A Taste of India

Quilon's acclaimed head chef Sriram Aylur
I have to start this review by confessing that I’m not a big fan of Indian food. My experiences over the years have been quite mixed and as a consequence when I made my way with my partner to Quilon in the affluent region of St James’s Park, my expectations were not particularly high. For a restaurant that has been operational for over a decade, no one can ever accuse it of complacency since the establishment only received its Michelin Star in 2007 so it has been a natural progression towards success.

As we were shown to our seats I felt somewhat underwhelmed by the interior decor, which was slightly bland and somewhat clichéd. I could only hope the food would make a better impact than the aesthetics!

We opened our meal with a selection of starters, the stand out for us both being the seared scallops, garnished with coriander, raw mango and almond flavours and also the masala dosa, which is a rice and lentil pancake filled with tempered potatoes and served with a side garnish of sambhar.

The main courses that followed were fish based; baked black cod beautifully spiced and served with coconut rice and crispy okra and prawn byadgi, char-grilled prawns with ground byadgi chillies and accompanied by spinach poriyal and generous helpings of a superbly cooked paratha bread.

More disappointing was the side salad that arrived, looking like the poor relative of the overall meal and as though it was put together for the most undemanding palate.

Dessert was a mixed bag with some interesting yogurt blends making up for a somewhat uninspiring hazelnut cake and if there is one area I felt there could be improvement then it would have to be here. For someone like me who really looks forward to his desserts, it was a case of more variety next time please.

On a more positive note, the service was exceptional and the staff very helpful and informative when it came to an explanation of the dishes and overall they proved attentive throughout.

Quilon’s menu, which bases its cuisine on India's Kerala style cooking, from the South West Coast of India is co-ordinated and prepared by the highly acclaimed head chef Sriram Aylur, someone who has spent the last 20 years slowly fine-tuning his art.

There’s no doubting that the attention to detail and desire to prove himself remains as strong as ever with Sriram and overall the starters and main dishes were beautifully presented, tasting every much as good as they looked.

As far as Indian restaurants go, this is certainly one of the best in London and worth a visit to try something a little closer to the authentic; something most of us are unlikely to experience at the local take away!

Quilon, 41 Buckingham Gate, London SW1, tel: 020 7821 1899. Lunch Sun-Fri; dinner daily. Around £130 for two, including wine and service For further information visit the restaurant website at www.thequilonrestaurant.com


George R Vaughan