Dining at Veeraswamy is a treat and twice I had the pleasure of experiencing the hospitality and the fantastic food this restaurant offers. Veeraswamy is the oldest Indian restaurant in London, dating back to 1926. Located in the heart of London, on Regents Street, Veeraswamy specialises in traditional regional Indian dishes, cooked to perfection. And it’s so good, it was awarded a Michelin star.
Over the years Veeraswamy was the dining choice for many iconic people such as Winston Churchill, Indira Ghandi and Charlie Chaplin. Soon after opening, Veeraswamy gained its reputation as the first high-end Indian restaurant to serve European royalty. In 1930 the restaurant was taken over by Sir William Steward (a British politician who got to be known as the King Curry) and his famous wife Greta Gaye, who ran it successfully until 1967. Legend has it that Veeraswamy might have instigated the trend for drinking lager when eating Indian food.
Stepping inside Veeraswamy is like entering a Maharaja’s home. The opulent décor is completed by intricate artwork on the walls, hand-woven carpets on the floor, and silver-clad ceilings with Venetian chandeliers and lanterns from Jaipur. The service is impeccable, from the warm greetings given by the doorman, to the extreme attention to every single detail from the waiters.
As Veeraswamy is one of London’s most sought after Indian restaurants, it is highly recommended that you book a table ahead of time, as it is very unlikely you will get a table if you are a walk-in.
The restaurant is on the mezzanine floor and to reach it you need to take the elevator.
After I arrived and my reservation was checked, I was led to my table, which to my delight was near one of the large windows overlooking busy Regent Street. Shortly after, the waiter arrived with the food and drinks menus.
I decided to start my evening with a cocktail whilst browsing through the food menu. It took me a while to make up my mind which one I wanted, as there were so many amazing choices. In the end I went for the guava and passion fruit mojito, which was so tasty.
The Tasting Menu Experience
Whilst Veersaswamy focuses on executing the classic Indian cuisine to perfection using the highest quality spices brought directly from India, the menu is a collection of dishes that you probably haven’t come across before. This is because the chef has selected some of the tastiest regional dishes from across India.
After carefully reading through the menu, I decided to try a little bit of everything and ordered the tasting menu.
Before starting the extravagant tasting menu, the chef sent an Amouse-Bouche. The delightful small cup of mulligatawny soup had a strong taste of curry leaves and coconut milk. The tiny fresh apple pieces gave a wonderful texture to the tasty soup.
The first starter was the Tandoori Green Prawn. The large Madagascan tiger prawn was covered with a mix of fresh herbs (coriander, mint, and chili) and cooked in the Tandoori oven. It was served with three different sauces. The prawn was perfectly cooked, juicy but still firm.
The second starter was the Banjara Chicken Tikka, a small but extremely tender and succulent piece of chicken, served alongside a fresh mint and coriander chutney. The flavour of the chicken was enticing, with hints of ginger and aromatic spices. The dish was quite spicy, toned down by the green chutney.
The main course on the tasting menu is served in a silver crescent of four bowls and includes four of the chef’s speciality curries: Lobster Malabar Curry, Chicken Mirchi Makhani, Kashmiri Rogan Josh and Fresh Pineapple Curry. The main course was served alongside lemon rice and freshly baked naan bread.
What a feast the main course was! Each curry was so different and so fragrant!
I started with the Lobster Malabar Curry, which was so delicate, with a fantastic mustard, mango and coconut gravy. The lobster was cooked perfectly, firm but smooth and soft when biting into it. The curry sauce complimented the lobster so well, enhancing the flavour rather than overpowering it.
The Chicken Mirchi Makhani is the classic butter chicken. But this dish didn’t taste at all like the butter chicken you order at your local takeaway. The gravy was rich, with a tasty creamy tomato base and a balanced spice given by the Mirchi chili. The chicken was tender and full of flavour, which I assume was from what it was marinade in before being cooked.
Whilst I loved all the other curries on the silver crescent, the Kashmiri Rogan Josh was my highlight. I usually don’t order Rogan Josh because I feel it’s always too spicy for my taste. However, if only all lamb Rogan Josh tasted the same as Veerasawamy makes it, I would never stop ordering it. The thick gravy had an intense, deep and complex flavour. The spiciness of the dish was perfectly balanced to allow all the individual ingredients to shine. The layers of flavour coming one after another were just a delight for my taste buds. The lamb shank pieces were perfectly cooked as well, melting in my mouth. Each spoonful was a celebration of flavours.
The fresh pineapple curry was the surprise of the main course. It was sweet and fragrant, with a soft tanginess. I am thinking about it now and I can still imagine the taste. It’s without a doubt a memorable dish.
I had no idea what to expect from the dessert. The “Fresh Alfonso Mango” name on the menu didn’t give much away about what the dish was all about.
The dessert, served in a Martini glass, was a perfect ending to a copious dinner. The bottom of the glass was filled with an airy mango mouse, topped with fresh slices of mango. On top, the dessert was finished with a scoop of creamy ice cream, sprinkled with (what I believe were) pistachio and raspberry crumbs. The combination was light and heavenly, and even if I had already been full, I would still have enjoyed all of it.
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