Last Updated on August 19, 2021
Grand hotel meets Indian fine dining
Madhu’s of Mayfair have taken up residence at the Dilly hotel serving authentic Punjabi food with a Kenyan twist. The restaurant offers diners good food in the extremely grand surroundings of the hotel’s Oak Room. The Dilly is the latest incarnation of the historic Piccadilly Hotel that dates back to Edwardian times.
The grade II listed Oak Room is a place that brings to mind an imagined past of sumptuous banquets and foxtrotting couples. The lighting is at the extreme end of moody – and all the better for it unless you are trying to read the menu without your glasses. Fittingly, the service here is attentive, friendly and characterful without being intrusive.
There is a long and comprehensive drinks list, including some cocktails with an Indian twist plus lots of classics. There is a huge choice too when it comes to soft drinks and mocktails. My companion tried the green coconut juice served in the shell, which she admitted took a bit of getting used to but turned out to make more sense once our spicy mains arrived. On the more alcoholic front, she enjoyed her Berry Mojito. I worked my way through a delicious pina colada-style concoction served in an irresistible copper pineapple and a well-made G+T.
The sharing starters – vegan, vegetarian, meat/fish – come displayed on a dramatic architectural silver wheel. This put a smile on our faces before we’d even started eating. We chose the vegetarian option and found ourselves with six delicious small plates to sample. Bursting with flavour these were Achari Gobi, cauliflower marinated in Indian pickling spices cooked on the robata girl; Paneer Tikka, Indian cottage cheese flavoured with chilli, turmeric and yoghurt Masala Mogo, crispy cassava chips coated in roasted spices; chunky, crisp Vegetable samosas stuffed with potato and peas served with a tamarind chutney; and my favourite, the Aloo Tikki, which are potato patties, peas, chickpeas slathered with yoghurt and tamarind chutney and mint.
We shared a pair of main dishes based on ingredients we knew would go well together – lamb and aubergine. The Baingan Ka Bhartha, a dish of mashed aubergine – described on the menu as char-smoked – came cooked with onions, cumin and green peas. Definitely recommended to all lovers of aubergine, it made a fine accompaniment to our other main course, Madhu’s signature lamb chops – Boozi Bafu. Big and juicy, the chops came with a rich coating of tomato and onion sauce flavoured with roasted spices.
The steamed rice was fluffy and a simple accompaniment to our rich main dishes. The tandoori naan was great too for mopping up the juices and sauces and a good balance between soft and bready with crunchy edges.
When it came to choosing our puddings, again we took our waiter’s advice and tried the two traditional Indian dishes on the menu at Madhu’s at the Dilly. My companion had the Gajar Ka Halwa – freshly made carrot halwa with pistachio ice cream – prettily presented within a circle of sweet biscuit decorated with petals. I chose the Rasmali, probably best described as a milk pudding without the rice or semolina. Perfect for people like me with a fondness for the nursery pudding, this is a fresh milk cake with a creamy cardamom and saffron pouring sauce. Both desserts were presented on plates specially designed to match them.
I hope Madhu’s residency at The Dilly continues for a long time. The restaurant has only been open since June, but is clearly already popular with people looking for a glamorous night out with excellent dining. The bar here is a thing of beauty too and well worth checking out for cocktails after a trip to the Royal Academy or the big Waterstones just over the world.
Madhu’s of Mayfair
London W1J 0BH
Looking for Indian dining in Chelsea? we recommend Kahani Restaurant