Jamavar: Among the best Indian experiences in London (March 2017)

After my somewhat disappointing recent visit to Vineet Bhatia, it was a decided relief to eat at Jamavar. It reminded me once again just how good Indian cooking can be, when in the right hands. The pedigree of head chef Rohit Ghai says it all – having previously worked at Gymkhana, Trishna and Benares, he clearly knows what he is doing. Moreover, Jamavar is being bankrolled by the Leela Group, owner of many luxury destinations in India, and so has strong support. Befitting to its Mayfair location, just minutes from the Connaught Hotel, Jamavar could best be described as the next Gymkhana, but without the crowds. The dining room is beautiful: think dark wood panelling, traditional Indian-style paintings and mirrors. The atmosphere is calm and refined. The food is excellent, and good value too. In particular, the lunch/ early evening set menu, priced at £20 for two courses or £25 for three (we opted for the latter) is a stand-out bargain. There are also a la carte options as well as a fully-fledged tasting 7-course tasting menu. The culinary emphasis is on dishes from the north of India, with dry spices, sambals and chutneys featuring extensively. Our group of three went for a variety of options across the set menu and we were not disappointed with a single one. Jamavar excelled perhaps most notably with its fish dishes. The stone bass tikka and Macher Jhol (Bengali fish with chilli, aubergine and potato) were among the most exciting enjoyed recently, the flavours lingering long after the meal was over. Portion sizes are perfect (three small courses was just right at lunch) and there was no shortage of rice and naan on hand too. We shared a carafe of J.Ehmoser’s Riesling, and it was pleasing to see some 14 wines listed in this format on the menu. More expensive options are also available. Reflecting again on my lunch two days’ after the visit, it is hard to identify any obvious faults. A definite success.