This is a nice area, must have lots of discerning, sophisticated people here. At least this is how Kingston beckoned to me when I got off the train. A particularly refined area of London. I thought that it must be a nice area to live in with the Thames so close to hand. It would offer by turns soothing calm and if the worst came to the worst, a place to drown your demons (Brexit, come here).
In such a locale, my friend, showing up from his morning sports, stuck out somewhat as a sore thumb. In which case, this area was not really a place for him.
Such was the conversation between my dining companion and I as we walked from the train station to the restaurant. When we arrived at the restaurant, the interior only reinforced our guesses that this would be a nice place to eat.
I had also been to the previous Chakra branch in Kensington a while ago and had a good experience there. As such, I had high hopes for this venue.
Virgin mojito, lime, sugar, sparkling water and mint leaves. Firstly, to put us all in the mood, I atypically had sometime besides water for my meal. Living dangerously, this was a clean start to the meal.
Papadam Chutney, Assorted poppadoms.
Chutneys. I enjoyed the tomato chutney – adding a little depth, the sweet sauce was enjoyed by my companion but I preferred something more savoury.
Avocado Ke Gole, Avocado dumplings served with pickled beetroot purée and mustard kewpie. These were as great as I remember from Chakra Kensington. Meltingly smooth with tasty avocado interiors, crunchy skins, all nestled on a bed of beetroot. An interesting progression of flavours as you moved from sweet to savoury, crunchy to creamy, excellent.
Punjabi Fish Fingers, Crispy tilapia goujon with Minted yoghurt and Indian lemon. Decent, if not something great. The problem with good things is that they invite comparison, so it paled in comparison to the other starter.
Kundpur Chicken, Southern spiced chicken curry with chilli, tamarind, curry leaf. The chicken was alright but it was outshone by the sauce. With a delicious depth of umami with a light kick, I could have eaten the sauce all day. Indeed, I think I used most of the naan mopping this up.
Sadgi Ka, Hampshire lamb simmered in a sauce of almond, sundried coconut, Iranian saffron. In contrast with the chicken, here it was the meat which stood out. Tender and succulent pieces of lamb, cooked in a lighter brown sauce, this was more quickly finished. I could have done with more of this.
Baingan Bharta, Smoked aubergine mash cooked with burnt garlic, pounded chilli, tomatoes. An interesting dish, at first I couldn’t really identify what it was. At first glance, my dining companion and I thought that it might be smashed or ground lentils. On spooning some on to our plates, we had an ‘ah ha’ moment. Eggplant it was. It was undeniably smooth but it could have done with a bit more flavour as it seemed a bit too plain for me. Or perhaps this is the curse of perspective again as a result of the curries.
Bhindi Do Pyaza, Okra tossed with onions, tomatoes and spices. Decent, if overshadowed by the curries.
Naan, Leavened flour bread. These served well as sauce moppers as their innate plain taste did not interfere much with whatever they touched. As they shouldn’t.
Sade Chawal, Steamed basmati rice. If a grain is more to your liking to get rid of your sauce, here was rice. It was nice.
Mango Kulfi, Alphonso mango flavoured Indian ice cream. Creamy with a slight tart kick, this was a gentle finish to the meal, leading to an ending of fullness.
Raspberry Sorbet, Raspberry sorbet, rice crisp, stem ginger coulis. Yet it was the very final dessert which was the finish line. With a cleansing flavour, this was a good way to end. Leaving the restaurant with a clean mouth (and breath).
Like its sister restaurant in Kensington, this is an Indian restaurant for the well-heeled. The decor and food suits the surroundings. Its location, however, may trump its sibling as seated as we were near the windows to the river Thames, at times, I couldn’t help but glance longingly at the peaceful river. The flowing body promised tranquillity in these dark days of political turmoil. So if you need something to smile about, a good Indian meal on the banks of the river might do the trick.
A quiet eating 7.5/10.
We were invited to review. Estimated cost (3 courses equivalent) is GBP35 per person excluding drinks and service.
Bishops Palace House, 1 Riverside Walk,
Kingston upon Thames KT1 1QN