An Excellent Indian in Paddington – Hankies
We are already big fans of Hankies, Marble Arch, a rather classy Indian restaurant attached to the Montcalm Hotel there. The name of both restaurants comes from a special kind of classic Indian roti, a Roomali Roti, which is tossed like a pizza so that the dough becomes paper-thin, then baked on a special burning hot metal Roomali Tawa before being folded into ‘hankies’. While I generally try to avoid naan, in some effort to keep my weight under control, delicate hankies seem perfectly acceptable. That is, until you visit Hankies, Westbourne Terrace and discover their folded stuffed hankies…more of that later!
Hankies Westbourne Terrace is a few minutes from the station, tucked into a beautiful stucco-fronted terrace, on the edge of a hotel, just like the Marble Arch branch. There’s an open kitchen where you can see the chefs in action and the Hankies being made. And, there’s an excellent menu of small plates and main-course dishes. Like all the restaurants I’ve visited which are attached to a hotel, the Covid protocol is spotless and guests are expected to check in with the NHS app and have their temperature taken before being seated in a carefully socially distanced space.
To start though, a glass of fizz for me and a cocktail for my friend. Shouldn’t every meal start that way? I quite like pairing cocktails with Indian food and there’s certainly the opportunity to do that at Hankies. But, for the rest of the meal, I opted for my old favourite – a glass of sauvignon blanc!
What you should do at Hankies, of course, is shape your order around accommodating at least one of the folded hankies. They are a new creation and, think along the lines of Indian Calzone and you’ll have a reasonable approximation of what you’ll get.
We started our meal with small portions of Malai Chicken, Chilli Lamb Chops and Chive n Garlic prawn.
Chilli Lamb Chops were meltingly tender inside and perfectly pink, with a charred exterior and a spicy chilli sauce.
Malai chicken was tender and succulent and Chive and Garlic prawn, totally morish with a mild spice contrasting with the sweet prawn and roasted pepper coulis.
Before our main courses arrived we were treated to one of the folded hankies. I’d be quite happy to pop into Hankies on the way home and order a folded hanky and perhaps some dal as a light supper. Our full dairy paneer hankie came stuffed with kale and halloumi, but there were three other variations to choose from. At £7.50 each they are the perfect alternative to a pizza – and I would imagine somewhat healthier.
Our main courses came from the ‘Pots’ section of the menu.
My companion remarked how well balanced her butter chicken was, with a pulled tandoori chicken slathered in a buttery tomato sauce laced with fenugreek.
For me, a delicious dish of cashew prawn, which we learnt had some Eastern influences. Tiger prawns, crispy chilli and chives in a dry sauce made for a light and fragrant main course that was well complemented by a side dish of turnip saag with turnip, walnuts and Jersey royals.
If I’m honest neither of us needed dessert, but my companion loved her white chocolate cheesecake and I was far too easily tempted by a portion of homemade salted pistachio kulfi and a portion of gulab jamun.
For me, this is accessible Indian dining. The dishes seem to my Western eye to be authentic without being pedantic. The spice balancing is excellent and everything is freshly cooked. The m£6enu is long enough to allow a reasonable choice of dishes but not so long that you have no idea where to start and end up ordering chicken tikka masala (not, incidentally on the Hankies menu!)
Prices are reasonable too with ‘pots’ at between £8 and £10 and grills from £6 to £11. So you can afford to experiment.
Hankies Restaurant is around five minutes walk from Paddington station and it’s the kind of place I really anticipate coming into its own as lockdown lifts and people start travelling again. In addition to their in-restaurant dining Hankies offers a takeaway and home delivery service, which we’ve already reviewed.
Definitely one to keep in your address book!
57 Westbourne Terrace,
London W2 3UY