Restaurant review

Restaurant Review: Madhu’s of Mayfair

There was an unmistakable buzz in the air as we drove to Piccadilly Circus from Victoria Station on a chilly Friday evening. Crowds after work packed outside pubs and tourists cooed past London landmarks. Small groups gathered in Green Park to catch the last rays of the sun. Snowdrops and golden daffodils were a sure sign that the park, like the city, was beginning to wake up.

Our destination tonight was Madhu’s in Mayfair at the Dilly Hotel, a restaurant, I was told in advance, which brings a “revered reputation for high quality food and fine service” and a person who looks after events hosted by HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and even 10 Downing Street (although I didn’t see anyone bringing out wine cases the night we were there).

The restaurant could not be more centrally located, lying in the shadow of the bright lights of the Piccadilly Circus and the Fortnum & Mason list, the Royal Academy and the Ritz among its neighbours. The Dilly Hotel, featuring opulent Regency architecture, felt very grand and important, as did the bar at Madhu’s, which sports a jukebox of liquor and spirits.

Usually, I have the same apprehension about restaurants in tourist hotspots as I do about high-rise restaurants, where substance, originality and quality can often be lacking. But my worries were quickly allayed after I was brought a tamarind martini served with a refreshing sorbet on the side, which complemented each other wonderfully.

There was also a comfort to be found on the menu, which carried a range of authentic dishes not seen elsewhere. For the confused or, like me, the undecided, there are helpful ‘M’ markings representing signature dishes, which served as a worthy guide from which we did not deviate. To start, a pair of small plates including Robata Chops, perfectly pink in the middle, and Chilli Paneer, which was a delight to eat. Vibrantly red on the outside and white on the inside the long cubes of cheese carried a wonderful texture that was followed by a lasting flavor on the palette. The punchy heat was perfectly offset by a mellow Carignan.

The main course brought a fresh round of innovative dishes, with a cutting-edge chicken casserole cooked in a rich sauce served alongside fish masala, which is flavored with roasted carom seeds. Madhu’s Makhani Dal was a dish of dreams. I think, I think, 24 hours is the perfect harmony of flavors. Velvety, creamy, buttery, she alone was reason enough to give this enthralling restaurant a visit, served with cumin rice and bread with a typically alluring garlicy sheen.

The classic formula did well. Why oh why can’t we have more madhu?