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SteamPunk Indian on the Old Brompton Road:
When I first moved to West Brompton, the current site of Flora Indica was a Chinese restaurant. It was a little tired even then, though I remember being fascinated by the full wall aquarium in the basement dining room. The transformation has been extensive and the result is stunning. Flora Indica is now a fabulous tribute to the Scottish Botanists such as William Roxburgh, who, during the reign of Queen Victoria, travelled throughout India cataloguing the exotic plants they found and publishing Flora Indica in 1855.
Designed by Henry Chebaane of Blue Sky Hospitality, the decor has a Braveheart meets SteamPunk feel to it, with a distinctly British feel, thanks to a wealth of Harris Tweed. There are vintage Indian stamps, prints from the book and even an installation made from an old gin still. And everywhere, a pretty floral marque – on the walls, on the website and on the menu.
We rather liked the cocktail that we started with. So much so that my companion ordered a second. Flora Eden was flambé fresh sage & rosemary in green chartreuse, gin, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, Earl Grey & lavender syrup. Suprisingly light tasting, I avoided the second round and opted for a glass of Vino Verde instead…
Meanwhile, we were working our way through a selection of small plates. Starting with a papads basket- lentil and sabu dana with mixed kachumber, tomato & mango chutneys.
That was closely followed by a sweet potato chat- roasted sweet potato and potato, chilly coriander, date tamarind, with yoghurt & nylon sev (a nest-like savoury made using chickpea flour).
We both loved the zesty chicken tikka- lemon zest, chilly coriander and tossed black sesame.
And, I could have eaten the entire plate of tandoori paneer- pickling spiced cottage cheese with honey & lemon vinaigrette, & tossed almonds. The crunchy almond flakes added just enough texture and flavour to make this dish really delicious
I think we were both a little disappointed by the Sufyani Salmon- Scottish salmon, dill yoghurt & turmeric which seemed a little bitter I suspect it had just a little too much turmeric for our delicate Western palates?
But I was actually quite delighted that my companion didn’t want to eat lamb – because the entire portion of tandoori lamb served with pickled beetroot paste and mixed leaves salad. Tender and perfectly cooked sweet lamb cutlets in a perfectly spiced sauce contrasting beautifully with the pickled beetroot paste.
My dining companion was particularly looking forward to the butter chicken, which didn’t disappoint at all. A rich, creamy buttery sauce must have been a day’s calories per serving.
We also enjoyed a Dal Makhani-slow cooked black lentils finished with butter & cream, Saag Paneer- Indian cottage cheese cooked with spinach and some Zafrani Pulao- basmati rice flavoured with whole spices (dum), cooked on hot plate together with butter naan.
For dessert, a plate of sticky, smoked figs with a tonka bean custard, blueberries puree which didn’t seem particularly ‘Indian’ but was quite delicious and the perfect way to end the meal.
242 Old Brompton Road,
LONDON SW5 0DE
OPENING TIMES: 12PM-1AM MON-SUN