Although dated December,this review also takes into to consideration several other visits this year. The current tasting menu offers dishes of Michelin star quality at a reasonable price, given the exceptional quality of the cuisine. Wise menu choices mean that the food outperforms the bill.
The menu offers a creative balance of classic, classic with a twist and innovative and diners can mix and match those elements. Classic dishes include Country Captain of chicken and authentically cooked biryani. Innovations use classic ingredients with different textures: the chicken soup uses hot spices to create a pleasant warming effect such as one gets from brandy after a winter walk. The dhal's homely heartiness drew a tear of nostalgia from my wife as she savoured a mouthful of childhood. Slow cooked lamb dishes keep the fibre and flavour of the meat with a tender smoothness and rich sauce.
The balance of hearty and delicate, refinement and flavour, traditional and futuristic make a meal here a very full evening's entertainment. The match and balance of spice with meat or vegetable develops flour with poise. This restaurant is able to sustain its techniques in the dessert menu too where banana and fig kulfi sit alongside neat fruit brûlées.
The wine list is well-chosen in terms of price, quality and variety without being the size of the Oxford English Dictionary. Similar perspicacity is evident on the concise beer list where Meantime IPA sparkles
The staff are like quietly enthusiastic disc jockeys in the way they guide you through the menu and match your tastes to the menu. Their particular talent is to take you out of your comfort zone to enjoy a little adventure with the menu. Understated but attentive service replenishes drinks in a timely fashion but also reads the diner well, knowing when to leave a conversation to flow and when to attend the table. Comfortable lighting and well spaced tables give the restaurant the feeling of a club. The only membership requirement for this club is to enjoy food and appreciate the expertise behind the cuisine. All these factors have make it a favourite for diner a deux or business meetings. It was the perfect venue for our wedding reception a couple of years ago, where sensitivity to the occasion and cuisine to match has drawn us back repeatedly.
This being Britain in a recession, I conclude by pointing out that whilst this is not a cheap restaurant, it provides very good value for money and occasional special offers in the website are a bargain. Once in a while, a vehicle of pleasure provides the highest quality at an accessible price (the Jaguar E type, Swatch). Chutney Mary's ethos is hungry for a Michelin star and it is the modern diner who benefits.
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