Paul Dunn left comforted by the well executed food at Masala Grill
Masala Grill, stationed on the Chutney Mary site in King’s Road, is the latest venture from the Real Indian Food Company of Amaya, Veeraswamy, and Masala Zone fame.
Decor-wise, Masala Grill is a comforting reboot of Chutney’s, which bestrode SW10 for three decades at the forefront of Anglo-Indian cuisine. On arrival, one notes that the centrepiece of the restaurant: a fig tree in the beautifully appointed conservatory remains from the Mary era, as does the fantastic service, in our case provided by waitress Frederica. And with mains priced at more than £20 , the grill still attracts a well-heeled crowd redolent -although more family orientated – of its previous incarnation, which is relocating to St James’s.
As the name suggests, the restaurant serves tandoori grills, plus excellent dahls with some street food thrown in.
We started with pan puri, well-priced Sancerre and London Meantime lager. The street snack tasted better than it looked: tamarind sauce served in a laboratory beaker (we were in SW10 not E8) to be poured on the crisp biscuits.
The “no boundaries” chicken sixer appetiser overdid the colouring, and did not bowl us over either. Crispy fried squid was radioactive red but better: batter was light and squid tender. Conversely our samosa starter looked amazing: a riot of this time attractive colours, tamarind and pomegranate, but was rather bland in flavour.
Mains were much better: in appearance and taste. King prawns were plump and succulent. Slow-roasted leg of lamb smelled appetising, it was smoky with good texture.
Sides were superb: black dahl , Punjabi style: earthy and hearty, again great consistency. The Kachumber salad – tomoato mooli, fried green chilli and and sliced onions was cleansing. Best of all was lasuni saag – spinach with burnt garlic – nutty, spicey, peppery with lots of cumin.
Desserts matched mains, applying a restrained modern twist on Indian classics. Shrikhand (Gujarati style strained yoghurt) served with strawberries and mint evoked English summer. It would not have been out of place at the Long Room or Wimbledon. Carrot hulwa, short crust biscuit and with saffron ice cream nodded to the Middle East. And gulab jamuns got an update with the addition of salted caramel ice cream.
We left comforted and sated by food more conservative than its predecessor but just as well executed.
Masala Grill, 535 Kings Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 0SZ
Words Paul Dunn. Paul is a lifestyle and sports writer, you can ctah him tweeting @twunnsy