We often hear the term ‘Modern British Food’ casually bandied around, but to my mind, I don’t really know what this means. At best, I’d say was traditional British dishes, deconstructed, poncified and served in measly portions – i.e. not terribly appealing. However, with Benares, I think Chef Atul Kochhar has created the very definition of modern British cuisine.
With Asian food becoming as ingrained into our diets as much as pies and roasts, ‘modern British’ food should essentially reflect the flavours that our palettes now desire. There’s probably not a house in this country without a bottle of chilli sauce of some description and most exotic spices are increasingly being used to liven-up the most traditional of dishes. So it naturally follows that Indian influenced food is as dynamic and modern as it gets.
What Kochhar has done here is created a menu full of stunning British produce with the most delicate yet masterful spicing to create a tantalising array of dishes that would appeal even to those who don’t like Indian food. However, resultantly, if it’s a powerful curry you’re after, this is not the place for you.
Our choice of the Grazing menu provided no less than twelve different dishes to try. Fear not though, as the portions are pretty small, so you won’t feel like you need a trip to the gym on your way home. I won’t go through every dish, as it was all by-and-large delicious. However to give you an example of Kocchar’s unique style, dishes included Pickled duck terrine with citrus jelly; Kaffir flavoured Monkfish with a tamarind glaze; Tandoor roasted rabbit in red chilli & yogurt; Roast lamb on rosemary chickpeas; and Chicken supreme with a Korma sauce. Even desserts were good, with the Lemon grass infused cheesecake really standing out. At £69/head for the tasting menu, it’s certainly somewhere for a special occasion, but pricing is still on par with other Michelin starred restaurants. Some well judged but fairly safe wine pairings can also be had for an additional £30/head.
Like the food, the venue also takes a contemporary approach. After a freak fire last year pretty much destroyed everything in sight, the new venue adopts the extensive use of dark woods and leather to create a fairly unremarkable dining environment, although the new Chef’s Table and a fountain in the bar add some character.
Cuisine type: Modern Indian
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £100
Benares Restaurant & Bar
12A Berkeley Square
Tel: 020 7629 8886