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What is it?
Fancy restaurants are, by their very nature, not easy on the wallet. They are expensive. And it’s an absolute certainty that you will leave their premises notably less well off than when you entered. However, this is a concession that diners are willing to make in exchange for a truly memorable experience: for a delightful setting; for perfectly attentive – though never overbearing – waiters and a knowledgeable sommelier; and for expertly assembled plates of delicious morsels, the kind of which you couldn’t recreate at home.
Trishna – in London’s chi chi Marylebone village – offers these qualities in abundance, so it’s no wonder that the smart, cosmopolitan crowds that fill it on a daily basis leave happy, satisfied with the gussied-up, but still gutsy Michelin-starred take on southern Indian coastal cuisine that the restaurant is known for.
However, there is one aspect of the fine-dining experience that Trishna seems to have missed the memo on. And that’s the damage to your bank balance. If there is a better-value, star-rated set-menu anywhere in London – or possibly even Europe – we’re yet to find it. Offering four courses for lunch or early supper, for £40 is not just verging on the ludicrous. It’s setting up shop there permanently.
Trishna is the sibling of one of the capital’s other great Indian restaurants, Gymkhana, both of which are under the auspices of chef-owner Karam Sethi, but what’s notable about it, is how relaxed it is in comparison. Where Gymkhana is serious about its starchy fine-dining credentials, Trishna is more cosily informal with its modern chic decor and labyrinthine layout. It feels more like a Parisian neo-bistro than a temple for sub-continental cuisine. And that laid-back attitude extends to the menu, which is very recognisably Indian food as you know it from other high-street restaurants (as opposed to something more deconstructed or loaded with luxury ingredients). Only infinitely better.
What should I order?
Aloo chaat – that street food staple of potato and chickpea – is here elevated with the sour tang of tamarind and yogurt. It works terrifically as an amuse bouche, that you’re encouraged to spoon greedily into your mouth.
Similarly, the substitution of lamb in a duck seekh kebab is a masterstroke, delivering a rich fattiness that is brilliantly spiced, and pairs exceedingly well with a pineapple chutney.
Indeed, it’s the spicing that sets the food apart. The roasted coconut and cashew chicken, with telicherry peppercorn – effectively a full Indian meal in itself, with rice, dal panchmel and aloo (Indian spiced roasties) – has a notable depth of heat and complex spice combinations to justify the Michelin rating.
Why should I go?
For a feed that’s as good for the wallet as the soul.
15-17 Blandford Street, W1U 3DG