REVIEW : Dawaat – authenic South Indian cuisine at the Strand Palace Hotel

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Hotel restaurants have a tendency to get overlooked in larger cities. The sad truth is many locals consider restaurants within hotels to be either full of loud tourists or simply lacking in vibe and with so many other restaurants in London they just don’t get the air time.

The fact is, some of these restaurants have really well known head or executive chefs and the food is mostly faultless. This is exactly what we found at the Strand Palace Hotel’s restaurant, Dawaat Indian Restaurant. The restaurant is run by South Indian Chef, Asharaf Valappil who recently won Best Chef at the Curry Life Awards in 2016. The menu includes traditional dishes with a home-style twist with lots of vibrant colours, homemade curries and spice pastes and incredible chutneys made every day by Valappil and his team.

Elegant old school decor seems to be the theme of the restaurant with nothing too over the top or glitzy. The menu sounds overwhelmingly delicious packed full of Keralan delights . With poppadoms to munch on while we perused the menu we managed to eventually whittle our choices down to a starter and main each. The Pakora was the perfect amount of deliciously crispy batter and flavoursome vegetables dipped in a pineapple relish and the Lamb Kothu was like nothing we had tried before. Marinated lamb with spring onion, tomato and shredded naan was deliciously flavoured and mildly spicy with a thoroughly satisfying hum left in our mouths once finished.

As someone relatively unfamiliar with South Indian food and expecting dense and heavy curries- we were blown away by the delicate aromas of the dishes and the light flavours accompanied by refreshing yoghurt dips and sweet chutneys.

What the restaurant may lack in decor it certainly makes up for in colourful food and flavour with the Achari Prawn being a great spicy vibrant array of prawns along with the Tandoori Salmon with dill, ginger, yoghurt, lime and grape chutney. The salmon was cooked in one of the two traditional Tandoor ovens that are a main feature of the kitchen. These dishes were complimented perfectly as ever with rice- one portion was enough between two.

Indian food continues to thrive in London and having found a newly realised love for the dishes, I cannot wait to try more!All-in-all, well worth a visit!

For those looking for a great pre-theatre dinner in the heart of Theatreland, options are from £18 from two courses and £22 for three.

Dawaat Restaurant
2 Burleigh St, London WC2R 0JJ
www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk

By: Hannah Lovell

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