Last Updated on May 31, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Flora Indica – Stylish Indian Dining on Old Brompton Road
Lockdown is over (fingers crossed) and restaurants have reopened their interiors so no more sitting out in the cold under blankets huddling under heaters! So with inside dining restored, we were very excited to have been asked to review Flora Indica, an innovative Indian restaurant on West London’s stylish Old Brompton Road.
The restaurant’s interior takes its inspiration from the Victorian-era Scottish botanists who travelled throughout India classifying thousands of species of plants that were previously unknown to Britain. The book that came out of this research was called “Flora Indica” and was published in London in 1855. The décor pays homage to the book and this era with ‘an eclectic mix of splendid Scottish heritage Harris tweed fabric, Victorian steampunk in zinc, copper and brass and warm rich teak wood with Victorian period scientific curiosities decorating walls and shelves. The Flora Indica lounge downstairs seats up to 70 and has its own bar.
The food at Flora Indica marries together British ingredients with Indian flavours in a beguiling mix. The restaurant also takes its drink offer seriously with their own in-house beer, Flora Indica Amber Ale, created locally at the Portobello Brewery. For cocktail fans, the bar is well stocked with craft and premium gins.
Talking of cocktails, the chance to toast the return of ‘eating in’ couldn’t be resisted. We tried the Bombay Blossom, a delicious blend of the lime notes of Tanqueray Rangpur gin, the astringency of Rhubarb liqueur, the sweetness of lychee, apple juice, the smokiness of Earl Grey syrup and the floral essence of rose water. The Watermelon Cooler was a refreshingly zingy and driver friendly mix of watermelon juice, fresh mint, nectarine and lemonade, perfect for stirring the appetite and cleansing the palate.
It’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach so we ordered a couple of snacks from the à la carte menu. Cute looking cassava chilli pappads came with a cool yoghurty mint and sweet-sour tamarind dips. Crunchy okra fries were new to me. With a sprinkle of the mild heat of chaat masala on top, they were very moreish.
We chose four dishes from the small plates menu as starters. Crisp, juicy fried Malwani prawns from the western state of Maharashtra came in a rich yellow tomato chutney covered with shavings of black mooli
Salty deep-fried Jerusalem artichoke papdi chaat, replacing the flour-based crackers with the root vegetable, was slathered with the sweet-sourness of tamarind, creamy yoghurt and little explosions of pomegranate.
I love eating octopus but I’ve never had it pickled before. Soft and tender and with a deep umami flavour it was accompanied by unexpected shards of chilli tempura samphire and squid ink and yoghurt Doi Maach sauce.
A perfectly cooked fillet of smokey marinated tandoor salmon was given a hint of sweetness by yellow mustard and Achari pickled red cabbage sauce.
Moving on from the cocktails we tried a glass of white, a 2018 Finca Antigua Blanco from Viura in Spain which was well-balanced and had a long fruity finish, perfect with the spice and heat of the food.
The delicious and unusual Flora Indica Amber Ale, brewed with roasted Scottish barley, English hops and Indian botanicals was smooth with floral notes and a coffee finish.
Main dishes were substantial and first-rate. We tried a chunky monkfish and king prawn curry with a creamy coconut-based Bengali Malai curry sauce which spiced without overwhelming the fish.
Tandoori chicken tikka biryani came with moist ‘first-grade’ basmati rice, crispy onions and fresh mint. The meat was dry-spiced chicken and had a fragrant warmth from the spicing.
Sides were of a similarly high standard. Pilau rice was flavoured with cumin and onions and Naan bread was fluffy but with a good char for flavour. Creamy yoghurt with cucumber pomegranate had great textural contrast and flavour.
We tried two of the desserts on the menu. They were both Indian comfort food at its best, earthy, spiced and sweet all at once.
Shahi brioche tukda and tandoor pineapple were bathed in a condensed milk saffron cream with a pistachio crumb and a warm, candied, beetroot halwa was served with the yoghurt and mango based amarkhand with seasonal berries on the side.
If you are looking for Indian food with a twist set in stylish surroundings you should try out Flora Indica. There is a commitment to creativity that runs through the operation, from the interiors to what comes out on the plate, which makes it well worth a visit, and there is even free parking over the road in the evening!
242 Old Brompton Road
020 7730 4450
Looking for an Indian restaurant in central London? We recommend 1947 Indian Restaurant in Fitzrovia