Rewind 15 years, and the phrase ‘Indian fine dining’ was pretty much a paradox in London. Tamarind was the only Indian in town to have been awarded a Michelin star - and even that felt like lip service.
Indeed, Giles Coren awarded the latter a perfect ten, choosing to eat there three times in five days. High praise from the infamously picky critic.
So when Gymkhana’s affable head chef Rohit Ghai decided to go solo with the launch of Sloane Square’s Kutir, we had to check it out.
The name Kutir loosely translates from Sanskrit as ‘small hut’, but that does quite a disservice to this stylish King’s Road townhouse - the former residence of another fine-dining Indian restaurant, Rasoi.
To enter, you ascend the limestone steps and ring the doorbell as if entering a members’ club. The similarities continue inside where you choose between a number of distinct rooms and then settle into soft, leather seating. It’s time to sit back, relax and think of India.
We opted for the Hunter tasting menu - partly to try as broad a selection of dishes as possible, partly because we’re stone-cold carnivores, and partly because it just sounds cool, doesn’t it?
The first kill of the hunt is quail. It’s served in a particularly original way: its meat torn and stuffed inside a naan. The fluffy bread is then piled high with masala egg akuri, and it’s all finished off with a drizzle of truffle oil and shavings of fresh truffle. It’s the best scrambled eggs on toast you’ll ever eat.
The hunt continues with a venison so spicy it will blow your head off. Fortunately, it’s served with a delicious millet bread to help mop up the heat
Next up is fresh partridge from Berkshire, served up as a brace: warm marinated breast meat cooked in a tandoor and a cold leg served with pickle. The spice is calmed with a cooling beetroot.
The hunt continues with a venison so spicy it will blow your head off. Fortunately, it’s served with a delicious millet bread to help mop up the heat. The dish is a speciality of Rajasthan - and now Kutir, too.
The final prey is wild mallard. Controversially, it’s served as a korma - a dish that I would usually turn my nose up at. But this is korma Kutir style. The duck is marinated with spices and delicately cooked with swede and korma sauce. It’s a triumph - and my favourite dish of the day.
It’s hard to match all this with just one bottle of wine; far better to opt for a by-the-glass wine pairing. It’s indicative of the menu’s diversity that within just the first three courses we bounce from crisp champagne to an earthy claret to a fruit-filled gamay, each pitched with precision.
Tucking into our final course - chocolate chilli mousse, banana fritters with toffee sauce - it’s difficult to imagine a London without Indian fine dining. With chefs like Rohit Ghai - and restaurants like Kutir - there’s no doubt the accolades will keep on coming.
10 Lincoln Street, London SW3. 020 7581 1144. kutir.co.uk