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Chakra Holland Street, A Classy Classic in Kensington:
The last time I visited Chakra (and loved it), the location was closer to Notting Hill than High Street Kensington. And, the venue was glitzier, larger and just a tad less intimate. They moved recently and I jumped at the chance to return…
This time, I walked from Kensington High Street through those residential streets with houses that I dream about owning. You know, the sort that start with a six figure price tag for a one bedroom flat. It’s a lovely part of London and perfectly suited to the elegant Indian food that Chakra is so good at. Inside, the new venue is perfectly pristine with its Farrow and Ball paint scheme. Considerably more intimate than its predecessor, although the staff told me that there is further development and refurbishment work in the pipeline which will increase the number of covers.
A glass of champagne seemed in order, while my companion enjoyed a cocktail. Meanwhile we struggled to choose from a menu of delicious sounding dishes, the sort of cuisine you might describe as modern Indian.
My choice of Spice Crusted Tiger Shrimp (prawns to those of us more used to English terminology), with green chilli and garlic yoghurt was delicious, light and really quite morish. There were three – and I ate two, although our plan had been to share.
My companion’s Tandoori Chicken Breast with Red Deghi Mirch and Celery and Shallot Chutney was equally delicious, a beautifully cooked, tender and moist platter.
She picked the grilled chicken with tomato and cream masala and coriander as her main course – something which could have been ordinary, but which turned out to be far from that. A velvety rich and creamy tomato sauce garnished with snippets of coriander to lift the flavour went down very well.
Meanwhile, I picked a tandoori sea-bass which turned out to look rather evil on the plate
It was, however, thoroughly delicious and suprisingly for me, perfectly cooked so that the fish wasn’t dry and just flaked off the bone.
We’d asked for side dishes of sweet potatoes, okra and spring onions and of tarka daal, something not on the menu. If I have one criticism of Chakra it is that there are almost no vegetable side orders – instead if you are dining as a couple the option is to pick a third starter or main course. The sweet potato dish was utterly delicious and between two of us we managed most of it. Daal was a relatively moderately sized portion and, since we’d avoided ordering naan, worked to provide us with a little carbohydrate.
I couldn’t fault the cooking so far – we thoroughly enjoyed everything that was served.
Now, perhaps we should have stopped at that point. But temptation got the better of both of us and we ordered dessert. Chocolate soil with mint, chocolate stones and ice-cream looked pretty enough but didn’t seem particularly in keeping with the rest of the menu.
I tried my best to be restrained and asked for a half portion of Gulab Jamun caviar with pistachio toast and cardamom creme. Needless to say, a full portion arrived…and I somehow managed to devour the lot.
I loved the intimacy of Chakra. It feels like the slightly wayward glitzy teenager of Notting Hill has grown-up into a beautiful young woman, in all the best ways. It is elegant and intimate – the sort of place I’d love for a date evening – and the food is utterly delicious. Go while you can still get a table.
Chakra Kensington on Holland Street
33c Holland Street
London, W8 4LX
Tel 020 7229 2115