It’s not often you come across a restaurant like this. Sat proudly on Kings Road, Chutney Mary exudes a luxurious air, from the moment you walk in. It’s Kings Road location gives you a clue as to what the place might be like inside, but Chutney Mary is rare, in that along with its rather high-end reception, plush interior and beautifully elegant décor, there isn’t a hint of the stuffy, snobbish staff attitude you might associate with such a high quality eatery.
Chutney Mary’s main dining area is low-lit, wrapped in warm hues and positively stylish. Attention to detail is everywhere from the stunning look of the conservatory (complete with a few good-sized trees), down to the glassware and cutlery. This isn’t the kind of place that skimps on anything.
We settled into our seats, and were provided with an espresso cup each of soup to sip on as we leaf through the menu. Full of cumin and blends of spice, it hinted at the flavoured wow factor we were about to experience with the rest of our meal. The menu here isn’t rammed with endless choice, but a good handful of dishes that definitely veer off the beaten track of chicken kormas and baltis.
To start we chose the Tandoori Portobello mushroom and goats cheese salad, which was spiced, beautifully cooked and worth every mouthful. We also decided on the Tokri Chaat, which is described on the menu as a “potato basket, filled with street food favourites, stained yoghurt and chutneys”. Now you might be forgiven for thinking that with “street food” in the title, it could be a quite casually presented starter. Well, no. The Tokri Chaat arrived on our table looking like a work of art – the kind that you might consider giving up your month’s wages for. Tumbling out of the woven-crafted potato basket, was an assortment of intensely good street food: lentil cakes and chickpea patties, covered in a sweet, light yoghurt and finished off with a scattering of ruby-red jewel-like pomegranate seeds. You know that flavoured wow factor mentioned earlier? This was it. Aside from the great pain we went through in destroying the Tokri Chaat, to satisfy our hunger, it was a wonderful experience. And you can’t say that about many meals, let alone a starter. It was beyond worth every mouthful – we could have eaten it three times over if someone had only read our minds.
Our main meal was a similarly memorable experience. In a bid to try as much of the menu as possible we ordered the Goa Green Chicken Curry (the hottest dish on the menu for all you chilli-lovers out there), and the Tasting Curry Platter, which comprised Punjabi nalli gosht, Mangalore prawns, Goa green chicken, baingan masala and rice. We also ordered some Makai Palak (fresh spinach cooked with corn, garlic and green chilli), in the naïve hope that we would be able to finish everything. The Green Curry was as fiery as predicted, although somehow managed not to muster a flinch out of my chilli-addict of a dining partner. The Tasting Curry Platter was a quite fabulous way to dive into as many of Chutney Mary’s offerings as possible. As always, a favourite emerges from a platter, and it had to be the Mangalore Prawns, which our waitress knowingly recommended. The staff at Chutney Mary know the menu inside out - you don’t run the risk of asking about a dish and getting a blank look in reply here, which is a refreshing find. In a place where you could get fazed by the luxuriousness of your surroundings, there are no snobbish attitudes or patronising tones to put you off your food. A confident, competent approach emanated from the staff at this stellar restaurant, which was the seal on a fantastic meal out.
But we’re not quite finished. Dessert was yet to come, and with the temptation of the chocolate orange fondant and cardamom spiked, pistachio-flecked ice cream, we revelled in our choices and savoured every mouthful. Chutney Mary is not the kind of place you wonder into after the pubs have shut, to soak up the liquid intake of an evening. It’s the kind of place where you walk in for an unforgettable meal, and walk out, feeling as though you’ve eaten like a king.
Chutney Mary: 535, Kings Rd, London, SW10 0SZ
Tel: 020 7351 3113
Reviewer: Helenka Bednar