My Favourite Restaurant: Veeraswamy, Curry house with a doorman

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The Independent Online
PHILIP WILLIAMSON, marketing and commercial director with the Nationwide Building Society, has been with his current employers for the past 10 years, but it was 10 years further back that he discovered his favourite restaurant - The Veeraswamy in Regent Street, London.

At that time Mr Williamson, now 51, was working for Lloyds Bank as senior manager of its Piccadilly branch. "The Veeraswamy was unusual and quite difficult to find," he recalls. "The restaurant is on the first floor. There is usually a doorman in Indian regalia outside its entrance in Swallow Street."

Mr Williamson first fell in love with the place when he was dashing out to get a quick lunch with work colleagues from the bank. "They had delicious buffets - you could be in and out of there without having to wait around for waiters", he says.

"The restaurant has been there for around 70 years. The food reflects the homeland of the current owner - Henry Lobo is from Goa, and it's classic Indian," he says. His favourite dishes are classic chicken tikka, biryani and Indian sweets. "They don't over-stuff you. They concentrate on flavours rather than quantity," he adds.

Mr Williamson, a native of Liverpool, tries to visit Veeraswamy's whenever he travels up to London on business from Nationwide's head office in Swindon - a town which has "a variety of restaurants," he says, diplomatically. The tables at Veeras- wamy's are nicely spaced, he says, a big plus in the West End, where greedy owners often crowd the tables, making conversation difficult.

"The service is good and the decor reasonably modern. It's good value for money. I reckon you should be able to get away with pounds 25 for two, including beer," says Mr Williamson. And how about the wine list? "You've got to drink beer with Indian food. It's traditional," he insists, with a twinkle in his eye.

Veeraswamy, 99 Regent St, London W1 (Telephone 0171-734 1401).