Cafe Society: Indian without tears

The Raj has had a far-reaching effect on the British way of life, even if it's rather different from the one originally envisaged. The Nabobs can never have thought they were building a homeland whose cornerstones would be tea, kedgeree and the lager-vindaloo diet. The Brits, genetically programmed to be suspicious of unfamiliar foodstuffs, would still be languishing in Brown Windsor Hell if it weren't for the Indian sub-continent: our array of foreign eateries can be traced back to chips with curry sauce.

Curry is as British as football hooliganism. Or not. We tend to forget that the French had an equally long and noble history of subjugating other races, and had their own presence in India, though the wide-flung and relatively tiny territories they held - Chandernargor, Yanaan. Pondicherry, Mahe and Karikal - would suggest that they were as much there to annoy the British as anything else. La Porte des Indes, a very swish restaurant in the southern reaches of Marylebone, specialises in Franco-Indian cuisine.

This is the kind of place to take your parents to show off just how sophisticated you've become since your mum used to spit on Kleenexes and rub your face with them. They will love it: from the wonderfully draped lady who greets you at the door, through the absurdly ornate frieze-covered bar (with excellently deadening acoustics), up the fashion-parade stairs where water trickles over a wall of black-and-white marble two storeys high, through the cupola'ed dining-room to the orchid pressed into female hands at the coat check, they will be wide-eyed with delight.

And they won't be wrong. The food here is to the Bolton Balti House what the Greenhouse is to the Little Tea Shoppe: subtle, clever, and presented with a flourish and elegant twiddly things on the side. Where your average curry is a kind of comfort food for slouching in front of the telly with, this is grown-up gear that really deserves sitting up to table and concentrating on: shellfish that's juicy not just rubbery, meat that melts, choices of rice that don't just look different but taste different too, some of the best breads in town. Of course, it comes at at grown-up prices, too. Cheapskates can try a lunch buffet at pounds 15 a head, but expect to pay something between pounds 40-50 in the evening. But it's worth it.

La Porte des Indes, 32 Bryanston St, W1 (0171-224 0055)


Four other Indian restaurants suitable for impressing visiting parents. Expect little change from pounds 40 a head

Red Fort 77 Dean St, W1 (0171-437 2115) Despite its positioning in the middle of chromeland, this plushy red-and-pink palace with its ornate gilded wall decorations is pleasantly restful. Staff are punctilious and well-turned-out, food a bit on the rich side, but very "occasiony".

Malabar 27 Uxbridge St, W8 (0171-727 8800) Plain decor, small tables, posh clientele; good for indecisive parents, as the thalis (small quantities of mixed foods) are excellent. Deservedly popular Sunday lunch buffet: book in advance, as you've not a chance of walking in off the street.

Cafe Lazeez 93-95 Old Brompton Rd, SW7 (0171-581 9993) "Modern" Indian brasserie with minimalist decor and the odd touch of ornately carved wood; grilled foods to die for. Great for snacky things, busy late at night as it also functions as a popular bar - though the weekend live music might not suit everyone.

Star of India 154 Old Brompton Rd, SW5 (0171-373 2901) or "Asterisk of India" as it's locally known, due to the supernova emblazoned on its facade. An old restaurant, probably the campest in London, with fabulous starters and formal knife-and-fork main courses. Get a table upstairs if you can, where a nice man will serenade you with torch songs.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'