Having seen executive chef Santosh Shah demonstrating his delicious food earlier this year at both the Surrey and Middlesex Food Festivals, a friend and I decided to go along to the LaLit London for a spot of lunch and check it out properly. Boy, am I glad I did!
The LaLit is a former grammar school by London Bridge, which has been lovingly restored over a period of some five years, retaining many of the original features. The result is a stunning hotel, which offers a sense of style, peace, and serenity – just minutes away from the bustling crowds of City office workers and tourists.
The Naan’ery in the hotel’s Baluchi restaurant is London’s first and only dedicated space to offer contemporary twists on traditional Indian bread recipes. There is a vast tandoor oven and guests are seated on stools around a bar where they can see their food being prepared. The Naan’ery Experience (which I and a friend were having) is a tasting menu, with paired wines and is reasonably priced, at £55 ahead or £99 for two. The menu comprised a selection of different Indian breads, each accompanied by a different sauce, followed by a traditional tiffin, with a selection of small dishes of butter chicken, tamarind curry, soft pilau rice, and a delicious carrot halwa.
Our menu was delicious and nicely spaced out, allowing plenty of time to chat and enjoy the lovely Indian wines that accompanied each course. We had porcini & truffle naan; fig & cheese kulcha, blue cheese naan with tomato chutney (my favourite I think) and a delicious coconut & mango naan. The tiffin was beautifully presented and a perfect finale to a spectacular dining experience. Santosh’s skill is very evident in the well-adjusted seasonings of the different sauces. The heat of the chilli was carefully measured, and often an initial rush of heat quickly softened, allowing one to taste the other carefully balanced elements of the dish.
The Naan’ery Experience would also be a fun event for a group of friends, family – or office team – to enjoy a very different celebration together. They can seat up to 15 around the bar (possibly a few more if prepared to squeeze up a bit!).