Chakra – a hidden delight in Kensington:
Earlier in the year we were pleased to be invited to the re-launch party for Chakra and to sample their food and drinks, but these events can only ever give a glimpse of what the restaurant is capable of, so we were more than happy to be invited back to experience the Northern Indian food and drink in less frenetic circumstances.
Although only a couple of minutes walk from Kensington High Street, Chakra is an area with a village-like vibe; it has a local pub, jewellers, a hairdresser, and Musa boutique (highly recommended if you want to find something a little different from the usual High Street offerings) as neighbours. Taking its cue from these rather arty neighbours, Chakra has been re-launched, with a pretty front patio, and a gorgeous colour scheme inside. I don’t know exactly why, but I really loved these plates on the wall.First, we were treated to an amuse bouche from the chef. A delicate trio of red kidney bean tiki, beetroot puree and cream cheese with a sun-dried tomato. These really did get us excited to see what else the chef had in store for us.
We’d asked the restaurant to choose us some dishes that would look pretty in the photos, but not to be afraid of giving us spicy dishes as we are both rather addicted to chillies. I hope that will help to explain the vast number of dishes set before us and featured in the post – a veritable feast indeed. First to arrive was a dish I wasn’t too sure about from the menu, the Avocado Ke Gole; tiny encased balls of avocado, deep fried. They turned out to be lovely, and the creamy avocado seemed very decadent. I did ask how they were made, and it seems that the secret is to freeze the avocado first so that it remains in shape throughout the cooking. Our next starter gave a nod to Indian Street food, the Samosa Chana Chat came with crispy black chickpeas, tamarind sauce, yoghurt and sev. This wasn’t the prettiest dish of the evening, but it was packed with flavour; I’d order this again in a flash. Then we were treated to tandoori monkfish. This is a dish that I’d almost be guaranteed to order, combining my love of healthy fish with delicate spicing. The monkfish was moist and kept interesting with the carom seed crust, the kasundi mustard paste and the wasabi yoghurt for a little kick. The perfect ‘little black dress’ item on the menu.Along with another item from the tandoor also good for figure watching, the ever-popular chicken tikka. Again the meat was succulent and tender with subtle spicing. Our dish of lamb rogan josh was everything it should be, rich, and packed full of flavour. The chicken biryani arrived sealed and the ‘pot’ opened in front of us. The fragrant dish was served with cucumber and yoghurt. This was the wow dish of the evening for Alex, my companion.My own ‘wow’ dish was the Okra. We’d had a little laugh at the beginning of the evening when we’d be asked about any food restrictions, to which I’d said, “none, but I hate Brussel sprouts” and we’d all agreed that would be a rare find on an Indian restaurant menu. I forgot to mention that I generally loathe okra too; I like the outside but can’t bear the slimy inside part. So I was rather hesitant when the dish arrived, but I braved the dish and was so glad that I had done so. It seems that I’ve been wrong all these years, all it needed was deep frying to become delicious! We finished with a miniature selection of desserts. A perfect cheesecake, chocolate fondant, and sorbet. The star of the show was the warm Gulab Jamun which I’d always imagined being too sweet for me, but it was perfect, like a light steamed pudding.
I so wish that this was my own neighbourhood northern Indian restaurant. The food is perfectly cooked, without compromising on the spicing, yet served prettily in a lovely setting.
Chakra has another branch in Kingston.
Disclaimer: We were guests of Chakra
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