Centrefold / Red hot lunch: Taste Rajasthan's finest delicacies in the company of ministers from a menu made for Maharajas

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Soho's prestigious Indian restaurant, The Red Fort, has come up trumps again with the most exotic of marketing gimmicks. If you happen to be walking past the venue in Dean St at lunchtime or during the evening in the next few weeks you will be transfixed by the spectacle inside its window: a sensual dancer clad in radiant colours covered in jewels and twirling her glass laced skirt, smiling gaily as she gracefully tips her head slowly backwards, eventually touching the ground. They're trying to whet your appetite . . . for food.

The owner, Mr Amin Ali, had the notion that a bit of regional Indian culture, in the form of The Rajasthani Food Festival, would spice things up and increase turnover, while of course, teaching his clientele a thing or two about the Indian way.

If you don't mind feeling like a goldfish, with passers-by unashamedly looking in, then enter. You'll be treated to a menu that was once made available to Maharajas, prepared by two of Rajasthan's finest chefs who have been flown over especially for the festival. On entering it becomes apparent that this is a restaurant with both attitude and image, as the assertive Asian hostess with the mostest hair (a plait that trails well below her knees) asks you politely but sternly if you've booked. Booking is advisable - we were competing for a table against Kenneth Clarke MP. The menu includes game that is rarely found in Indian restaurants - delicacies such as venison, hare and quail - and the dessert, Shahi Tukra, is actually covered with authentic edible silver leaf. The quality of the food is good but it's obvious that what you are paying for is the ambience and status. All is splendour, the music enchanting, most of the people beautiful, even the sugar resembles crystals and the prices reassuringly expensive - you'll be presented with a bill fit for a King.

The Red Fort Rajasthani Food Festival: 77 Dean St, W1 (071-437 2525) to 23 Oct

(Photograph omitted)

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