Our Dinner With A Celebrity Chef In A Converted Fire Station

Whether it’s watching aspiring cooks battle it out on MasterChef or challenging the country’s biggest names to replicate iconic food a la Snackmasters, we just can’t get enough of chefs on the small screen. One such familiar face is Atul Kochhar; among the first Indian chefs to win a coveted Michelin star. You’ll probably recognise him from Saturday Kitchen, Great British Menu and Million Pound Menu (just to name a few), but what about his restaurants? From the blue-hued Kanishka in Mayfair, to Marlow’s Sindhu and Indian Essence over in Petts Wood, he’s covering a lot of ground. And up on our hit list in 2022 was hit latest venture Mathura.

Mathura Westminster Fire Station Restaurant | DesignMyNight

Mathura mixes sultry decor with elevated Indian food.

Situated on a quiet road in Westminster, opposite the longstanding Grey Coat Hospital school, the restaurant doesn’t give much away at first glance. But once inside, we realised we were standing in the old Westminster Fire Station – spruced up with giant low-hanging pendant lights and ornate red velvet banquette booths, yet still retaining the off-white tiles that stretch all the way up to the high ceiling.

Visiting on a Saturday night with the other half, we settled into our cosy table and went straight for drinks. There’s a gin trolley and dedicated cognac menu, though we were eying up a cocktail. Inspired by India and its surrounding countries, the list features concoctions such as a tequila-based Royal Nepal and pomelo-tipped Exquisite Myanmar. For us, a couple of tangy Beauty Of Bhutans (all £10), combining gin, green mango, black pepper shrub, lime, ginger beer, mango and black pepper.

Mathura Westminster Review | DesignMyNight

The Persian kebab platter is a must.

To start, it was Atul’s chicken tikka pie for him and the tandoori goose for me; the former cooked dainty, crumbly, and cooked well, though the latter slightly bland. And each overpowered with an unnecessary dollop of cranberry sauce. Ushering mains through with a bottle of Prosecco Rose DOC (£45), I welcomed the tandoor spiced corn-fed chicken since it had come recommended by the waiter who likened it to butter chicken. Not quite the saucy, flavourful dish that I had envisioned, it was quickly overshadowed by the Persian kebab platter (£11 supplement). It’s easy to see why these costs more, with a trio of tender lamb chop, succulent grilled prawn and chunky paneer tikka giving me serious food envy.

With room left for dessert, we shared a couple. The chocolate bomb was beautifully presented and equally as tasty, though again decorated with cranberries like they were going out of fashion. As for the pistachio cake, it was light but filling, with a pistachio crumb and floral, red crisp. Mopping up the last of dessert, we spotted Atul making his rounds through the tables. He posed for photos with diners, chatted to waiters and ended up at ours to say hello. We’d all come for a taste of his cooking, but didn’t expect an actual appearance. A sweet note to end on.

The DesignMyNight Digest 

There’s no denying that Mathura is gorgeous, with an imposing dining room and intimate tables that make for a stunning setting. I’m not sure the set menu would entice me back though, as the dishes didn’t hit the spot as much as I imagine the premium one would. Perhaps splashing out is the way to go here.

  💰 The damage: around £130 for a cocktail, bottle of wine and 3-courses for two.

  📍  The location: between Victoria and St James's Park stations.

  👌 Perfect for: upmarket Indian dining.

 ⭐ Need to know: Atul is often cooking in the kitchen so keep an eye out.