Atul Kochhar boasts a slew of upmarket Indian restaurants across the UK, with a number of them shining brightly in London. But despite his prolific status, I had yet to visit one of his highly acclaimed eateries. If you know me, then you're aware that I have a love of all things Indian food, whether it's a casual takeaway or upmarket affair. So when the chance to try out Kanishka in Mayfair came up? There was no way I was going to turn that down.
Oozing opulent sophistication on Maddox Street, this fine dining destination was an absolute treat for the eyes. The interiors were busy without being overwhelming; flaunting bright, turquoise walls contrasted by monochromatic striped detailing and a criss-cross entwined rope ceiling, it was smart and elegant, though with a little touch of delightful quirkiness. All the staff were immaculately dressed and immediately attended us at our elegant, white-clothed table in the intimate corner we were seated in.
We decided to start the evening with a round of cocktails. I went for the AK Malt Sour (£17.50), made up of fat washed Crabbies 12 whisky, egg white, lemon juice and maple syrup. Served in a coupette, garnished with a lemon and a maraschino cherry, it was a smooth, creamy marriage of sweet and tart flavours. My partner went for the coconut old fashioned (£15) (this wasn't actually on the menu, but after a lovely chat with the bartender, he made this specially for him), which was basically just a very well made old fashioned, but with subtle, sweet coconutty aroma to it.
As we ogled the menu with hunger rumbling in our tums, one choice stood out - the Grazing Menu (£75 each). This seemed like the perfect option so that we could try a bit of everything without being over-stuffed (or so we thought). The first of our many dishes was quick to arrive - the nastha (snacks). This included steamed chickpeas, which had a spongey, cake-like texture and contrasted nicely with the firm bite of the balsamic pearls that topped it. Alongside these, we each had a delightfully flakey, moreish samosa and a small poppadom casing filled with chilled chickpeas.
Then came the starters; bhuttae ke kebab, seafood seekh, bhatti masala lamb chops and reshmi chicken kebab, accompanied by pot of cooling dipping sauce. A sort of potato and corn pattie, the bhuttae ke kebab was a little bland and not really for me, although the masala lamb cutlets were superbly cooked - succulent and elegantly spiced, they literally melted in the mouth. And the chicken? Dayum, that was some of the juiciest poultry I have ever sunk my teeth into, elevated even more so by the smoky, intense flavour that slowly built up with each bite. However, the fish, which came in a kofta, cylindrical shape, was a little odd and didn't really add much.
Next up, the mains. Now, these guys don't scrimp on the portions - believe me when I said they were huge; four steaming, aromatic curries took over our table, and I couldn't wait to dig in. I piled my plate high with saffron rice before dolloping on the chicken kastoori, lamb kosha, prawn mappas and Kanishka signature black dal. The first was made up of roasted, corn-fed chicken breast, tender broccoli, plum tomatoes and a fenugreek gravy. Rich in colour with a lovely sheen to it, it was an absolute winner. The lamb, which was cooked with mustard and yoghurt, was equally delicious.
As for the dal - phwoar, this was so rich and unctuous, I would even go as far as to say it competed with Dishoom's version (if you know, you know). The only dish I wasn't mad on was the prawn mappas - it was a little thin and didn't really have the same oomph the others did. We tried our hardest to munch our way through these behemoth portions, mopping up as much as we could with the delish garlic naan, but we were defeated (we had to save room for dessert, after all).
All that feasting was thirsty work, so we ordered a couple more cocktails to keep us going. We both opted for the El Chapo margarita (£15 each), a combo of blanco tequila, Cointreau, oolong tea, grapefruit juice, lime, ginger and green chilli syrup. Somehow, it tasted botanical, almost like roses, with a sweet, jammy aftertaste. To finish, we received a pretty plate of vanilla mishti parfait and a chocolate delice presented side by side. The parfait was smooth and mellow, elevated by the tartness of the cherry jam accompaniment, while the chocolate delice was as indulgent as can be.
The DesignMyNight Digest
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kanishka - the service was warm and friendly, the interiors are like nothing I've seen before and the cocktails were sublime. If you're looking for a snazzy spot to treat your other half or a gorgeous, relaxed location to celebrate a birthday, you've certainly found it here.
💰 The damage: Just over £210, plus service charge.
📍 The location: 17-19 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2QH.
👌 Perfect for: Fancy date nights and special occasions.
⭐ Need to know: The bar takes special requests, so you can enjoy a creative cocktail to your liking.