Spiced scallop with white tomato soupMore pictures
I first started looking into Rasoi when I noticed the chef, Vineet Bhatia’s amazingly designed cookbook while doing a bit of Christmas shopping. With the winter now firmly here bringing with it the dark nights and cold weather I thought it was a good time to visit. I’ve always enjoyed a good curry and indeed it was 5 years ago that I first took my first step into eating out at London restaurants when I took myself out for a birthday meal at Benares back before it got its star and when chef Atul Kocher was actually behind the stoves. I was amazed by the mixture of spices and preparations not normally found down the local curry house, by the presentation, the atmosphere and thankful for the lack of bangra music banging in my ears and magical moving wall-art distracting my gaze.
Five years on and my search for an Indian meal equally as inspiring has not turned up too many gems. I’ve found some great curry houses such as Hot Stuff in Vauxhall or The Tower Tandoori on the Old Kent Road but while great places to go for a well spiced and sourced meal the wow factor isn’t quite there and my inner magpie wanted more shiny. It seems like I’m going to lots of restaurants that are set in old town houses and Rasoi continues with that theme. You ring a doorbell; announce your arrival via the intercom and the door is opened into a rather moody dining area housed in what in next doors property is probably the living room, dining room and conservatory.
I was happy to see a tasting menu and also interested that all the courses listed on it were not to be found on the standard a la carte. The chef, Vineet Bhatia was the first Indian chef in the UK to hold a Michelin star and is clearly a bit of a showman as fresh off the bat I was presented with a white bowl with a single large scallop and some contraption holding a test-tube of white tomato soup precariously on the side of the plate. The scallop was cooked well but maybe could have done with a few more seconds but the spiced crust and salsa combined tremendously with the soup and was a good indication of things to come; this wasn’t really Indian food but more like fine French style dining with spices.
The courses kept coming and spiced lobster and foie-gras both left a good feeling in my mouth (though again could have done with more cooking) but after the half way mark that the wow factor I was looking arrived. Blackened chicken was saffron upma (an Indian semolina) was a great marriage with the rich buttery grain adding extra depth to the taste of the blackened spiced enclosing the perfectly moist tandoor cocked bird. A refresher course (though that doesn’t really give it the credit that it deserves) of rose petal sorbet, champagne and marmalade was a perfect palette cleanser with the superb touch of having the spoon coated in marmalade so that with each mouthful you got a layers of sorbet and marmalade being washed down with a light bubbly champagne – it was really very good. The real winner was the lamb though. It was served engulfed in a bowl of smoke that wafted into the air leaving a delicate scent when removed and managed to combined the taste of an American BBQ with delicate spicing and a lovely rich rogan josh style sauce alongside a biryani curry.
The service was polite and friendly though the shape of the dining area did mean that a number of times I’d notice out of the corner of my eye someone peaking around the corner to see if they needed to take my plate and I have to say they couldn’t pour beer for toffee as they struggled on numerous occasions from keeping my King Cobra beer from over spilling the glass. Prices are high but I could feel where they were coming from as there were a number of added touches not found in many restaurants Indian or otherwise. If you’re a fan of Indian food but want to taste things outside of what you’ll find down your local restaurant then this is certainly worth a booking and a trip down to Kensington for.Tweet