After the exhilarating matinee performance of Les Mis, we returned in a splendid mood to our room to freshen up prior to our short walk from the hotel to a quite stunning restaurant, La Porte des Indes, part of the international Blue Elephant Group. Run by the highly acclaimed chef Mehernosh Mody, Master Chef from Mumbai and a recent winner at the 2012 Craft Guild of Chefs Awards at Wembley.
The short walk allowed us time to savour the delights thus far, a luxury comfortable and highly hospitable hotel, a marvellous musical reflecting the very best of London theatres, all with the backdrop of the London Olympics with reminder at every turn of the sporting events going on throughout London, some of them close by with the prospect of more to come.
This really was a gold medal winning break.
The entrance and initial effects of the restaurant do take your breath away, bright, extensive, warm, and welcoming. The fusion of ornately carved wood, the plants, greenery and flowers, the gentle backdrop of spices floating around the rooms allowed us almost to dance to our allotted table, highly appropriate because the building was once an Edwardian ballroom, full of glitz and glam, a mirror image of the decoration in the restaurant first opened for business in 1996 and delivering award winning food ever since.
I had been eagerly awaiting this visit for some time, following on some seven years after I had the pleasure of visiting its Belgian equivalent bearing the same name in Brussels, and savouring not only the delights of the food and service on offer but in the sheer charm and obvious friendly nature of the staff, as attentive to us as they were of Lucy, then six months old and the centre of attention for all.
I had already studied the excellent web site, http://www.laportedesindes.com/london/ to plan my meal ahead of time but, as with many of my visits, my intentions were re-routed as mood and a reading of the actual menu brought other dishes to my full intention.
As we sat at our table, affording us a wonderful view of the restaurant, we toasted out good health, Scott secretly planning his culinary journey with a wide variety of pit stops en route.
We decided on the Menu Maison is a fantastic concept where you can sample “a little of everything” – a 3 course meal with a wonderful array of tempting dishes, many offering Olympian quality at a time when London 2012 was reaching its peak.
Among our wonderful starters were Parsee Fish: Fillets of sole encased in a mint and coriander chutney and lightly steamed in banana leave and Demoiselles de Pondicherry: Large juicy grilled king scallops with a hint of garlic in a mild saffron sauce, very tasty if a touch undercooked if I am permitted to be picky!
Our mains included a gold medal winning items including Barra Lamb Chops: best end of British Lamb marinated with caramelised onions and garam masala, served with mint chutney, simply superb!
Poulet Rouge: Chicken marinated in yoghurt and red spices, grilled and served in a creamy sauce.
Crevettes Assadh: Prawns simmered in a mild coconut curry with green mangoes, turmeric, chillies and ginger, another promising dish that could have benefitted from an extra minute in preparation.
Saag Paneer: a traditional dish of leaf spinach and cottage cheese sautéed in butter with green chillies and ginger, simply superb, a sublime example of charm of this restaurant.
Rougail d’ Aubergine: a gem of a dish, a speciality of smoked crushed aubergine, chilli, ginger and green lime from Pondicherry.
Washed down with a fine Beaujolais this was heaven indeed!
It is not the food alone that acts as a powerful magnet at this simply stunning restaurant; it is the service of the highest standard, born from real staff training, monitoring and highly reflective of the standards throughout the Blue Elephant Group of which this restaurant is an integral element.
Two contented and replete diners made our way back to our hotel, full of excellent food but more, filled with culinary memories that will last for many years.
We slept well naturally!