Being the foodies that we are, while in London Glenn and I set our hearts on enjoying a fabulous Indian meal together. Indian cuisine has been thriving in London for centuries. Some claim in fact, that the first restaurant in the city was the Hindoostanee Coffee House, opened in 1810. After so many years of mixing and mingling in the melting pot, the delicious traditional flavors and techniques of India have transformed and evolved, birthing iconic new dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala—a British favorite.
Wanting to try the most exciting Indian fine dining that London had to offer, we were pointed toward the new Chutney Mary, tucked among the glamorous old gentlemen’s clubs on London’s prestigious St. James Street. After a successful 25 years in Chelsea, the restauranteurs chose to relocate to this landmark location in the center of the city, revamping the concept and offering an even more sophisticated, adventurous experience than before.
Smart move, right? In business you always have to be evolving to stay current and the restauranteurs behind Chutney Mary get that. I was unsurprised to find women behind the decision. Chutney Mary is the brainchild of Namita Panjabi, and founded along with her husband Ranjit and her sister Camellia. The family had a vision for a more upscale, chef-driven take on Indian cuisine, starting with their 1983 restaurant Bombay Brasserie.
Opened in 1990, Chutney Mary was determined to be even more elegant and elevated. It pretty much invented the concept of a contemporary Indian restaurant, sourcing the finest ingredients and keeping up with the latest dining trends. While I’ve never been to the original location, it’s clear that the new space on St. James is a super successful brand evolution, showcasing the owners’ commitment to innovation.
First of all, the atmosphere is amazing. The room sparkles with soft warm lighting, mahogany-paneled walls, and sumptuous patterned fabrics in rich jewel tones. Glenn and I were immediately impressed by the wine list, with outstanding by-the-glass options and a great selection of bottles as well. We chose to start our meal with a plate of crispy, delicate chicken wings—which who knew could be so light and delicious?
For our mains, we ordered the butter chicken and the lamb biryani. Both arrived artfully presented with stylish restraint and were absolutely delicious. The star of the show however, was the tandoori black pepper dover sole. This was a dish worth coming to London for—it was seriously that good—fresh, perfectly cooked and bursting with the most delightfully zesty flavor. After eating that, Glenn and I were satisfied we had found exactly what we were looking for.
As is au courant for all the best restaurants in the world right now, Chutney Mary’s menu changes with the seasons, but always features a mix of classic Indian favorites, elevated street food and creative new dishes from the Chefs. While waiting for a table, the Pukka Bar at the front of house invites you in for a drink. With a stunning stone and leather bar, gold pillars and a wood-paneled ceiling, it’s a chic place for lunch, cocktail hour or afternoon tea, featuring an enticing cafe menu and expert mixology.
We’ll definitely be coming back here on our next adventure to London and highly recommend it to lovers of not only Indian cuisine, but fine dining in general. Whether you’re on a date, with your girlfriends, meeting with clients or hosting a celebratory team dinner, Chutney Mary offers an exquisite, one-of-a-kind experience with something for everyone.