Having already been head-over-heels for places like Asha's in Manchester and Sloane Square's Kahani, I'm always keen to try out an Indian restaurant with a fine dining leaning. This time around? Yaatra in Westminster was on the cards - a relatively new venue on the scene, having opened towards the latter end of 2022. Thanks to accomplished executive chef Amit Bagyal (formerly of the Michelin-starred Benares and Kanishka) at the helm, this place features in the Michelin Guide just months after starting out. Expectations were high, to say the least.
My first impressions? They've made this Grade II listed former fire station, once home to Mathura, look the part. With dining rooms named after precious gemstones, the venue's interiors follow a similar vein of opulent colours. Having been shown to the ruby restaurant on the top floor, which boasted a red (but not gaudy) colour scheme and was flanked by a shimmering bar to match, my guest and I drove straight into the drinks menu.
An ode to the building, the fire station martini (£12.50) was the cocktail that caught my friend's eye. This classic pornstar hit all the right flavours - sweet passionfruit, slightly sour citrus and a hint of vanilla, all wrapped up with fizz. For me? The signature Coconut Cloud (£12), which was a rich number whipped up from Indian-spiced white rum, toasted coconut and curry leaf shrub, lime and coconut cream; an indulgent start.
When it came to starters, I already had an idea of the two we should order. After asking our server, we'd been recommended the exact duo I'd hoped for, so we took the plunge with the togarashi-roasted scallops (£18) in a coconut butter and citrus podi along with some stir-fried chicken momos (£14). The former had a slightly hot umami kick from the Japanese spices, while not overpowering the seafood and possessing that perfectly soft, melts-in-the-mouth-like-butter feel - a stand-out of the night. Presentation and texture was equally great on the Himalayan dumplings, although the overall flavour was a tad bland.
Prompt service brought the mains to our table next, accompanied by sides of fluffed saffron rice (£4) and moreish garlic naan (£4). When a dish comes with its own mini spiel on the menu and a recommendation from the executive chef himself, you can bet I'm ordering that beauty. At Yaatra, that's the Himalayan-spiced Garhwal goat osso buco (£22) in a ginger and turmeric gravy. The curry was runnier than I was expecting, but the meat fell away from the bone at the touch of a fork and the warming, rich quality of each mouthful was hit. Our other pick was the tandoori lamb chop (£24). Another demonstration in tenderness, these smoky mouthfuls were gobbled up with lashings of bone marrow sauce and green pea chokha masala - two additions to the plate I was very grateful for, as the spice on the lamb itself wasn't very identifiable. Compared to some other fine dining destinations though, portions here were pretty generous without being overwhelming, which is a definite draw.
To finish? Rasmalai strawberry cheesecake (£9.50) - a sweetened cottage cheese number that was deliciously creamy - and gulab jamun (£7.50) sitting in rose and cardamom syrup. Yes, two cheese-based puds because I'm an absolute fiend for the stuff. Feeling like a great balance between indulgent and light to end the meal, these treats also perfectly summed up the menu's blend of more modern or fusion elements with traditional Indian.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Everything at Yaatra was cooked with exceptional skill, reflecting the weight of the name behind the kitchen, but I thought some dishes would've benefitted from a little oomph. If you like your Indian more on the delicate side, or want to pair a few fusion elements with a million dollar-feel to service, drinks and presentation, then this opulent eatery will still hit the mark.
💰 The damage: Around £130 for three courses and a drink each, plus service charge.
📍 The location: 4 Greycoat Place, Westminster SW1P 1SB.
👌 Perfect for: A fancy take on your usual Indian restaurant.
⭐ Need to know: They do tasting menus here too - the ideal special occasion treat.