The Painted Heron is a high-end Indian restaurant that has been serving the Chelsea locals for almost 15 years. It is somewhat off the beaten track, next to the river in an area lacking a tube station – one wonders whether this was intended to create a sense of exclusivity, making it slightly trickier to get to. The restaurant is housed in elegant if slightly understated surroundings composed of various shades of brown. The menu is extensive with traditional Indian dishes and quite a few more interesting combinations, using less typical ingredients with a fair amount of game on the menu. Other reviewers have mentioned the existence of a strawberry curry, although I hunted this in vain it was unfortunately not to be found on the menu when I visited.
The selection of starters that we tried were generally good. Particularly likeable were a chicken tikka selection – served ‘three ways’ with different seasonings, and a minced wagyu beef kebab – which was meaty and full of flavour. Seafood starters were a bit more mixed – a soft shell crab was delicious, having just the right amount of spice for that extra kick; although a pollock tikka was a bit on the dry side.
There is an extensive selection of curries to pick from as well – our favourite was a South Indian chicken curry which had a slightly unusual twist of being served with plantain chips. A Goan prawn curry was likewise a delight, with juicy prawns swimming in a rich sauce. A vension rogan josh was less successful – although the curry itself was good, the meat was served in fairly large firm slabs and didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the dish.
The weakest point of the meal was probably the desserts. We had a fig, plum and pistachio cake which was inspired although the accompanying ice cream had some ice crystals in it. Guess more than commuters are suffering in this unusually hot weather. As I write this I am dripping on my seat. No, it’s not drool but rather something you do when you are overheating. A more traditional carrot halwa was served with green tea ice cream – individually, these were decent enough but together, a slightly unusual combo that didn’t quite gel.
Overall, the Painted Heron was an enjoyable experience – the cooking struck a good balance between traditional and experimental; service was friendly and the surroundings were very refined with a careful atmosphere – the best word to describe the Painted Heron should be civilized. Proof of its charm, enduringly solid food and sometime atypical combinations if its longevity where many London restaurants are more transient. If you’re looking for a higher end Indian meal experience, then this place is definitely worth the visit (even if you are, like us, users of steamy, sweaty and rather uncomfortable public transport and not a Chelsea local).
A quiet eating 7.5/10.
We were invited to review, estimated cost (3 courses) is GBP35.
112 Cheyne Walk
London SW10 0DJ