Last Updated on
Southern Indian Food at Ooty, Marylebone.
Ooty, a new Indian restaurant in Marylebone, sits on the Baker Street site where Galvin Bistro de Luxe used to feed a lot of happy punters. Its name is an affectionate diminutive of Udhagamandalam (Ooty), ‘an idyllic hill-station in the state of Tamil Nadu’ and the restaurant’s culinary focus is that southernmost region of the Indian subcontinent.
Head chef Manmeet Singh Bali has fine form in the kitchen at Ooty having worked at Michelin starred Rasoi Vineet Bhatia in Chelsea, one London’s finest Indian restaurants, so I’m very happy to have been asked to review and my expectations are high!
The first thing that struck me on arrival was the layout of the room which makes much better use of the space than the Galvin Bistro ever did. It’s more open than before with green banquettes lining the walls, plush pink chairs and tropical botanical William Morris style wallpaper all adding to the elegance of the interior. There are monogrammed linen napkins and even a garden wall to keep us amused.
In addition to offering a selection of classics, Ooty has an intriguing cocktail list inspired by railway journeys through India. Her ladyship chose The Garden Reviver, a beautifully balanced blend of rosemary-infused Absolut vodka, apricot liqueur and elderflower juice.
Deliciously fresh and herbal, it was a perfect foil for the fresh poppadums that arrived with a moreish sweet mango and a fiery coriander and chilli chutney. My Pom Royal was a mix of Vouvray sparkling wine, Alphonso vermouth and homemade grenadine with a sprinkling of gold dust on top. It had a slightly medicinal quality (which I lovede!) that was diffused by our pre-starter of a palate-cleansing tomato and lentil chilli soup.
Our first starter was a Kid Goat Sukka. The meat was spicy and tender, cooked with coconut and chilli, sitting on a spinach and artichoke uttapam (like a mini pizza) and accompanied by a pepper duck egg and a lentil sambar. The flavours were deep and rich – a very satisfying plate. There is a sensibly curated wine list at Ooty. We chose a bottle of Riesling, Nik Weis, St Urbana-Hof, Schiefer, Mosel which had a good balance of sweetness and minerality with lemon and apple flavours. It worked well with the heat and spice of the food.
I always order soft shell crab if it’s on a menu but it’s hard to get deep-fried crab that retains its subtle flavour. The Telicherry Crab Fry did just that, arriving hot and grease-free from the fryer with a cool crab and lentil sprout chaat and a rich tomato chutney adding a little frisson of excitement on the side.
From the Griddle Menu, we chose the Eral Poriyal, a light, crisp dosa stuffed with tender, sweet and spicy stir-fried gunpowder shrimp. With sambal, coconut and tomato sauces giving it an extra kick, this was the finest dosa I’ve ever eaten – a thing of beauty!
Keralan chilli lobster was fiery and tender; the lobster was bathed in a tasty shellfish Charu bisque with a gentle cauliflower and ginger rice on the side to mop up the sauce.
I eat a lot of sea bass but the Gunpowder poha sea bass was deliciously different. Pan-fried with a crunchy topping and served with a healthy broad bean quinoa, the lime leaf scented tomato coconut moilee sauce added a real zing to the fish.
Our side dish of dal had a smoky earthiness that elevated this simple lentil dish to a higher plane, and with a light fenugreek parotta bread to scoop it up this was a very moreish mouthful.
Our dessert of Ooty coffee cream, a collation of coffee cheese, cardamom cream, raspberry fennel sorbet with a pistachio stick was an Indian Tiramisu, sweet, satisfying and a great end to the meal
There is no doubt that Ooty sits in the top rank of Indian restaurants in London. The cooking is technically excellent with a deep understanding of spicing, flavour and textural variety but it also took me on a luxurious journey to Southern India with impeccable service. If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine you should go!
66 Baker Street,
London W1U 7DJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 3727 5014