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Benares – eaten and reviewed

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Once in a while everyone should give himself or herself a little treat. With it being my birthday (20th July for anyone interested for next year) I though the time was right for one of my little treats by heading off to my favourite restaurant, Benares in Berkeley Square.

Since my last visit (same time last year) the restaurant has achieved a Michelin star; I would like to think my review from last year helped it on its way, there is no evidence to prove for or against this argument so I’m going to stick with it. Would gaining this award (the second of head chef Atul Kochhar’s career) have lead to complacency?!?!

To summarise

12A Berkeley Square, Green Park,W1j 6BS

Expensive but worth it for the quality of cooking and sense of grandeur in the restaurant. The staff make you feel special, are chatty but not so much so that they get annoying. With a bar to sip drinks in before and after your meal if you can afford it you should make sure to visit at least once for a taste of India you may not think possible!

Ross says – 9 out of 10

To waffle

Crispy soft shell crabBatter fried john dory with minted, spiced peasMonkfish tail with coconut noodles and corriander dressingAs I have hinted to previously this is not the kind of Indian you pop into after a night down the pub guzzling ales. The main menu has a very large fish (and therefore Southern Indian??) influence with soft shell crabs or scallops forming the starters and more robust fish like halibut or sole coming for main’s. They also do curries but I couldn’t waste my one trip of the year eating that – though I am sure they are delicious!

Being situated in Berkeley Square the people visiting the restaurant are clearly rather posh. On my visit there was a office party going there simply for drinks (on cocktails at £10.50 a pop), a number of what looked like business dinners but also the odd normal people going there simply for the eating – of which I was one, along with Gemma. Between us we had:

  1. Crispy fried soft-shell crab with squid salad (starter)
  2. Foie gras and tandori chicken terrine with apple chutney and roti (starter)
  3. Roast monkfish tail with spicy coconut noodles in a coriander sauce
  4. Batter fried john dory with spiced peas
  5. Black dal
  6. Bread basket (cauliflower stuffed, tomato and plain roti)

With this being a Michelin starred restaurant you expect you food to both look and taste fantastic. Thankfully both these standards were met, if not beaten!

Both starters were really, really good. Having had soft shell crab last year I thought I would go for something new and what sounded like an interesting choice paid off, the creaminess of foie gras ad subtle spice of the chicken went hand in hand; and when eaten with the supplied bread tasted even better. This is one thing that drove home that all parts of a dish contribute to the taste and should not be left on the side to be eaten later (something I have been guilty of before)!

Mains continued the high standard with the flavour of beautiful fresh fish not getting ruined by spice but being enhanced by it. The john dory dish that I had was the same one as cooked on the BBC TV series “The Great British Menu” and how it was beaten I do not know; I think it’s a fix! Only think missing from the TV show was the potato element but thankfully the rich dal and tasty breads made up for this.

I was lucky enough to get a Friday afternoon table (thanks to toptable.co.uk) and because of the high demand, and my 7pm booking I was told that we only had two hours for the table. This was the only down point of the night. While I didn’t fell rushed I think driving this point home on the phone was unnecessary; especially before our meal. Without that one little quibble this would certainly be my first 10 out of 10!

Tags food, London restaurants, Benares, restaurant reviews, modern Indian, Atul Kochaar

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