La Porte des Indes, literally translated of course means the Gateway to India which I think is an apt name for a restaurant that does an amazing job of transporting you from the London streets to, well, India.
The restaurant doesn’t look much from the outside but once you wind down its marble staircase you enter a vast space, filled with light, tropical plants, a waterfall and waiters and waitresses who are donned in traditional Indian dress. This is not your typical Brick Lane curry house!
The clientele are a mix of families, friends and business diners and there were areas that cater for a quiet business lunch or a more raucous affair if needed. We are handed one of the largest drinks menus I have ever seen which includes all manner of fresh juices, smoothies, bubble teas and of course your obligatory kingfisher and cobra beer. Being a lunch service, I enjoyed one of their super juices. Sipping my juice whilst tucking into my curry was rather an odd experience but one that actually really works!
The menu here does not look overly familiar. The cuisine is largely based around the cuisine of Pondicherry which is a former French colony in India and the recipes have French, Tamil and Creole influences. We took the easy way out and let the chef create a tasting menu for us which certainly makes you try things you wouldn’t typically order. We had scallops, butter chicken curry, vindaloo, king prawn curry, some delicious flat breads, lamb cutlets, vegetable dishes – it was an onslaught of flavors that at some points were unusual but nearly always delicious. We ended the menu with a selection of Indian desserts and a tea from their separate tea menu which was of course extensive.
Afterwards we wanted to see a bit more of the restaurant and so took a small guided tour (yes it is that big) and discovered that the space was once an Edwardian ballroom. La Porte des Indes was as impressive food wise as it was setting and I would certainly recommend it for anyone with a passion for Indian cuisine. Though prices wise it is probably best left as a special treat.