London Bridge Indian Restaurant – Baluchi at the LaLit:
I can never resist an invitation to go for a curry; I think that I’m completely hooked on the art of spicing which the best places manage to achieve and that I strive to replicate in my own home. When you add an old school that’s been converted into a hotel into the mix, then it’s too good an opportunity to miss. Could this be the best Indian restaurant in London Bridge?
The LaLiT is about a 10-minute walk from London Bridge station along Tooley Street. The historic Grade II listed former St. Olave’s Grammar School is hard to miss, but if there’s any doubt, just look for the welcoming Elephant!
LaLit have other hotels in New Delhi, Goa, Mumbai, Srinagar, Bangalore, Jaipur, Udaipur, Khajuraho, Chandigarh, Kolkata, and Bekal, and the flavour of these is reflected in the staff dress and the decor of the former Assembly Hall where the 3 huge chandeliers were commisioned and made in India (thankfully without any Only Fools and Horses moments). My dinner companion remarked how reminiscent she found the decor of the hotels that she’d stayed in whilst travelling in Rajasthan.
The Head Chef, Arup Dasgupta, explained that the Indian hotels in the group tended to serve very traditional dishes, but that the cuisine has evolved so much in London that Baluchi offers a modern take on Indian cuisine, as well as some old favourites. We pondered the menu whilst nibbling some poppadums and homemade chutneys and sipping a perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio chosen for us by the Maitre d’.
We both opted for modern Indian dishes to start. My companions’ Panch Pohran Mahi Tikka was Monkfish served with green pea puree, kasundi mustard and tomato emulsion and garnished with herbs; it made for a very pretty dish and was suitably spicy.
I chose one of the vegetarian options, Bharwan Zucchini, which was a deep fried courgette flower stuffed with paneer served with curried yoghurt and pickled garlic. This was very subtly spiced, and the courgette stem had a lovely crunch to contrast with the soft paneer.
I kept to the modern part of the menu for my main course, choosing the venison dish. This came with quinoa, salsify, beetroot powder and stuffed savoury profiteroles. The venison was served nicely pink and was beautifully tender, and I loved the tiny stuffed profiterole. But for me, the spicing was too safe, I found it a bit bland and would have liked a sauce.
My dinner companion opted for a more traditional butter chicken, which she said was incredibly tender and beautifully spicy. We shared a biryani and a speciality naan (the choice of breads was excellent).
Something that I found to be an oddity about Baluchi, was that the menu was really very clear about which dishes were suitable for vegetarians or for those needing to be gluten-free, but gave no indication about the spiciness of the dishes. Whilst it’s easy enough to ask the waiting staff if something is hot or not, it’s a bit of a pain to have to do that for multiple items.
Feeling rather full, we went into the rather grand Headmasters study where we enjoyed the bartenders’ interpretation of an espresso martini. These were really good, but we were both rather glad that we weren’t wearing anything white as the outside of the glasses were dusted in cocoa, which could have led to a horrible mess!
If you are looking to try some refined Indian cooking in an unusual setting, then you should look no further than Baluchi. It has to be one of the best Indian restaurants in London Bridge.
We were guests of Baluchi.
Baluchi at the LaLit
181, Tooley Street,