London

The Gateway to Indian and Culinary Bliss at La Porte De Indes Restaurant in London

31 Jan 2012

La Porte de Indes in London is one of the finer Marble Arch restaurants.  I took my girlfriend there recently, and we were startled by how quickly we had been transported from dreary winter London to the tropical coast of India, courtesy of one of,  if not the best,  London Indian restaurants. What makes this gourmet indian london option so different than the other London Indian restaurants? I’d say it’s French – Indian fusion and tropical Indian decor.

When you enter, you notice there are Indian artifacts everywhere. God knows how many, because the place is expansive, with many rooms that comprise the main dining area, as well as many private dining rooms as well. You really do feel like you’re a guest of some Indian Prince. When a hostess brings you to your table, you almost have to remind yourself that you are in the La Porte des Indes Restaurant, and not the La Porte Des Indes palace.

See what I mean? Did I mention that this was in London? La Porte Des Indes means “Gateway to India.” I would not have been surprised to find some sort of tunnel or stargate that did actually lead to India.

We were brought to our table by the host, who was exceedingly gracious and told us about the decor. I tried to listen, but my brain was too busy processing the torrent of visual stimuli around me, so there was little grey matter left to devote to sounds. I did catch that La Porte Des Indes is a part of the famous Blue Elephant group, and that there is another La Porte Des Indes in Brussels.

We got some pre-dinner cocktails. This was my first time seeing star fruit as a garnish. Pictured below is the stirred, shaken, and tossed Tamarind Margarita with tequila, Grand Marnier, and tamarind.

I felt like I was drinking in Super Mario World. After eating the star, I was impervious to harm for thirty seconds. You can see the Kama Sutra made of black bodka, passion fruit, and cranberry pictured below.

Since we chose the “Menu Maison” the chef prepared a little bit of everything in a three course meal for £39 per head.

The appetizers came in a sort of tapas style. There was a lot of food. We did not regret it.

  •     Parsee Fish:  Fillets of sole encased in a mint and coriander chutney and lightly steamed in banana leaves.
  •     Demoiselles de Pondicherry:  Large juicy grilled king scallops with a hint of garlic in a mild saffron sauce.
  •     Murgh Malai Kebab:  Chicken tikkas marinated with cream cheese, mace and fresh green peppercorns, grilled in the tandoor.
  •     Chard Pakoras:  Crunchy green and red chard and water chestnut pakoras with Bengal gramflour, green chillies, coriander, turmeric and caraway seeds.

We also ordered Naan that came piping hot. The Parsee fish blew my mind. Les Porte des Indes menu is Indian, but it’s representative of a French Colony in India, a place where French and Creole cooking have been marinating in Indian flavors for generations.

We went all out with the tasting menu. Look at this amount of food. We even had red and white wine on the table so we could experience all possible pairings and flavors available to us. I have to note that we ordered the food mild. Unlike most restaurants, Les Portes Des Indes followed through on our request.

  •     Barra Lamb Chops:  Best end of British lamb marinated with caramelised onions and garam masala, served with mint chutney.
  •     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.
  •     Saag Paneer:  A traditional dish of leaf spinach and cottage cheese sautéed in butter with green chillies and ginger.
  •     Rougail D’ Aubergine:  A speciality of smoked crushed aubergine, chilli, ginger and green lime from Pondicherry.

You are looking at a very happy man. The waiters you see behind me could not have been cooler, by the way. My girlfriend may have actually liked this food more than Colombian Empanadas. Don’t tell anyone. You can see her wiping away the delicouous mess the sweet naan bread left on her hands were the warm, moist towels brought to us after we finished the main courses. I also stopped off at the bathroomat this point. The photos of celebrities like Will Smith or Morgan Freeman posing in this very restaurant reconfirmed that I was dining in the right spot. Not that they are culinary critics, but I am sure their Assistant’s know the best places. Apparently Justin Bieber ate here last week too. Then dessert. No, this wasn’t the dessert tray. This was dessert. We got all of this. From chocolate cake to a lassi yogurt influenced dish we really stuffed outselves.

We may or may not have fought over this. This was right before I stole the Mango dish from her. And then Chai tea to finish it off. If you love Indian food, and you are in London, try to find your way to La Porte des Indes. It’s really something else. As far as gourmet London Indian Restaurant reviews go, this is my last one. I can’t imagine finding a better, more extravagant, London Indian Restaurant than this.