Short & Sweet: Darjeerling Express
Monday, May 28, 2018 at 6:55PM
Vix in Indian, London, Reviews, restaurant

Style: Indian (Bengali)

Budget: Mid-range 

Venue and atmosphere: Just looking around you can tell that this is going to be a different kind of Indian restaurant. Garish colours, white tablecloths and religious iconography are replaced with modest tones, wooden furniture and tasteful black and white photographs. The dining room, which opens onto the top balcony of Kingly Court, is light and airy, the summery feeling amplified by splashes of colour from the blue tiled sections of the floor and pot plants, which are dotted around at different levels.

Service: No frills, but efficient. 

Food: 

Whether or not you will like this place really depends on what kind of curry scratches your itch. The Meat and 2 Veg loves a “dirty curry” – the kind that you feel the next day, a wee bit greasy and packed full of heat. He enjoyed Darjeerling Express, but “it didn’t make my balls tingle”. If you prefer something a little lighter and subtler, then this will be right up your street. 

Starters were the highlight for me. Tangra Chilli Garlic Prawns, a street food snack from Calcutta, were sticky, salty, zingy and juicy – everything I want in a bite-sized morsel. Mutton Shikampuri Kabab – "spiced minced mutton cakes stuffed with a thin layer of hung yogurt and mint" – were like an Indian lamb kofte and contrasted beautifully with the sweet tomato chutney they served on the side.

The M&2V wasn’t convinced on the Bihari Phulki, since it declared itself loud and proud as a vegan dish on the menu, but he was won over by the spicy green chilli sauce which accompanied these light and crispy lentil fritters; it really packed a punch.

The mains lacked oomph for me. I don’t need a dirty curry to scratch my itch, but these were under seasoned and a little too refined for me. Methi chicken, which on paper sounded a bit dull – “boneless thighs cooked with fenugreek and tomato” – was by far the best dish; succulent and tender chicken in a generous, mildly spiced, creamy sauce. It needed a lot of salt, but we added that on the plate.

Goat Kasha Mangsho – Bengali style goat curry – had robust flavours, but was missing the meltingly tender meat that is why I order a goat curry. Kali Mirch Saag Keema – “spinach and minced beef spiced with black pepper and dried chillies” – was more sauce than a curry, but worked really well piled into the Puris (fried bread) with a crunchy and refreshing Kachumbar Salad. 

The M&2V, who has just reviewed my review, says the Puris deserve a special mention "because bread is an important part of an Indian meal and they were particularly good." He's right - they were so light, airy and crisp you wouldn't believe they were naughty.

Drink: A handful of interesting, Indian inspired cocktails to get you started, a great range of soft drinks and a small selection of wines and beers. Nothing stand out, but all reasonably priced.

In a nutshell: If you like to dabble with Indian flavours, but don’t want to get your hands dirty, then you’ll love it.

Out of 10:

Darjeerling Express: Top Floor, Kingly Court, London, W1B 5PW; +44 (0)20 7287 2828; info@darjeeling-express.com

Article originally appeared on One dish closer (http://www.onedishcloser.com/).
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