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Flora Indica: Indian dining with a twist

Luxury & Lifestyle 04-12-2017

On the Old Brompton Road sits an unassuming restaurant which at first glance appears industrial with steel and copper pipes visible through the window. As you enter and scan your eyes over the establishment, you’re transported to a world which seems like a chapter from Phileas Fogg’s adventures in India. Welcome to Flora Indica.

The restaurant gets its name from the title of Sir Joseph Hooker’s book published in 1855. Hooker was a close friend of Charles Darwin and one of the greatest explorers of the 19th century and served as Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.

The friendly and inviting manager Richard greeted us, and showed us to our table for lunch while explaining that we’re in for an afternoon of culinary delights.

For me, food has to be an adventure, an experience, one which evokes the senses of fragrance, sound and sight, as well as taste. The sound of smooth jazz with Indian tones seep through the ceiling speakers as I review the menu. It’s refreshing to find ingredients such as octopus and venison not traditionally found in an Indian menu. Though we were enjoying lunch, it was easy to imagine the colonial surroundings lending to a fun and culturally amazing experience.

So out comes the food. For the entrée, we’re served Kurmure okra fries with chaat masala. Okra can be slimy and if not cooked well can go terribly wrong. But these were perfectly crispy – boldly spiced but a great start.

The following culmination of small plates included:

  • Malwani prawns
  • Spiced pulled duck cheela
  • Suffolk lamb chop tandoori
  • Amritsari softshell crab
  • Venison gilafi sheek
  • Jerusalem artichoke papdi chaat
  • Pickled octopus with squid ink doi maach sauce which was my absolute favourite.

 

Having exotic ingredients is one thing, but cooking and serving them in the correct manner is a whole new ball game. With ingredients like octopus, duck and venison it is an art-form to prepare them well with just enough seasoning to enhance the flavour of the key ingredient. All the starters were cooked to perfection and the fusion between Indian spices and British ingredients made it much more interesting.

All the starters from this selection found themselves at the top-end of the scale with the duck and papdi chaat both hitting 9/10. (Richard the restaurant manager’s personal favourites are duck, crab and squid)

For our mains, we had:

  • Monkfish & king prawn in Bengali malai curry with coconut
  • Paneer kofta, Jerusalem artichoke and baby spinach
  • Slow braised Suffolk lamb shoulder rogan josh
  • These were served with naan bread and rice.

 

After the main course, Richard graciously gave us a detailed tour of the restaurant. Taking us downstairs where the establishment teases us with a completely different feel. Private cabin holes seating four guests, and intimate tables hosting larger numbers, along with a private bar. As with the upstairs, the walls are adorned with travel memorabilia accentuated with great lighting.

The restaurant has very carefully been positioned between fine dining and casual. Richard explains the vision for the restaurant, with the diverse infusions of culture hand in hand with traditions of classic and modern.

A three-course meal with wine at Flora Indica will costs in the region of around £50-£65 per person.

This is a very special restaurant indeed. Something different which plays upon a number of your senses and takes you on a journey which you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Sometimes it’s nice to push the boundaries and see where it can take you.

I’m very much looking forward to my next adventure at Flora Indica.

www.flora-indica.com

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