There is no denying how beautiful La Porte des Indes is. The surroundings within the restaurant are as striking as they are stunning, and a real surprise from the outside. The small corner entrance is very deceiving as the restaurant from the inside is astoundingly large. It even has its own waterfall (which is very calming) and mini forest! How many restaurants can boast that?
I also must commend the excellent quality of the staff. From having the door opened to us, having our coats taken, being seated, served menus, ordering food and drinks, having those food and drinks arrived to the restaurant manager talking through each dish with us in detail, we felt completely at ease and thoroughly treated. Sometimes with so-called ‘posh’ restaurants one can feel overwhelmed and out of place; I certainly felt like that when I dined at certain places. However La Porte des Indes works really hard to make each guest feel appreciated and at home. Glasses are (without asking) always refilled quietly, plates when finished are cleared with speed and precision, and our waiter even crumbed down the table after our meal.
We started with drinks. Alex ordered an Indian white wine and I went for the non-alcoholic cocktails. La Porte des Indes boasts an extensive non-alcoholic drinks menu with fresh juices and supplements including aloe vera, wheatgrass, spirulina and echinacea. My drinks were very bright and colourful, with a strong fruit flavour without being too sweet. I did not miss having alcohol at all and felt this allowed me to enjoy my food more mindfully.
Food started with a light rice cracker topped with a garam masala laced curry, and a mango and coconut soup. I gave Alex my soup as I am allergic to coconut, however the garam masala curry was not something I could ever share. Light, sweet, spicy and savoury – each mouthful (there were only two!) was expertly balanced and truly delicious.
We moved onto a platter of starters including scallops with a subtle saffron sauce (which were cooked perfectly), minced lamb meatballs that were rich in spice with a hint of chill and tandoori oven heat, a chard pakora which despite being a little dry had a lovely rich iron flavour and a soft interior, and a chicken and cream cheese mousse which was very dry unfortunately and not to my taste. These were served with an epic mango chutney that was amazingly sweet and soft, and a coriander and lime sauce that worked beautifully with each dish. (Apologies for the image quality here, my camera ran out of battery!)
Our main courses (please note the S) then arrived. We had a round tray of Indian delights with saffron and spiced rice (not too dry and well balanced), three types of chapati with cheese (which tasted a little like pizza) and more of those epic sauces. The whole roasted prawns were a challenge to get into and a little dry, however the flavour was amazing with a real kick of star anise and a spicy finish. The lamb chops were cooked medium but still nice and juicy which worked really well with the chill spiced spinach. The butter chicken was soft, moist and incredibly creamy making it wonderfully moorish. The pork curry, which we initially underestimated, grew in fiery heat and spice leaving your mouth and lips tingling all over. The pork is served with a single roasted ghost chill (I dared Alex to eat this, he said no) and tiny pickled onions, however these couldn’t detract from that amazingly complex sauce. I didn’t like the okra at all but I don’t like the vegetable itself so that’s no reflection on the restaurant.