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MINTED
DAVID HUDSON REVIEWS MINT LEAF
Suff olk Place, off Haymarket, SW1.
020 7930 9020. www.mintleafrestaurant.com
Running for the past six years, Mint Leaf on Haymarket is
one of those successful restaurant ventures that you don’t
actually read about much in the press. Although making
waves upon its launch, it’s neither so achingly hip as to be
on the must-do list of visiting celebrities, it’s not headed by
a celebrity chef, nor so obsessed with chasing Michelin stars
that it’s mentioned as one of London’s fi nest establishments.
This is a shame, as it is defi nitely one of London’s best Indian
restaurants and has deservedly built itself a large following.
So much so that last year it spawned a second branch – the
Mint Leaf Lounge in the city.
Located on the tourist-trap stretch of Haymarket, the Mint
Leaf is easy to miss. Behind a fairly anonymous opening,
you descend an imposing black staircase, to be then led
into the dark and seductive basement venue. It’s a huge
room – apparently capable of accommodating up to 500 at
full tilt. However, the interior has cleverly been partitioned
using slatted wooden blinds and delicate metal grilles
into a series of separate dining areas. The colour scheme is
all black and dark wood. Delicate and dinky light fi ttings
dangle over each table, while a long bar dominates one end delightful and very more-ish. Small pots of quails’ legs orders included baby corn and bok choy, stir fried with
of the room, with hundreds of colourful bottles of spirits (£9), were rubbed in spice and dry roasted and dressed with toasted melon seed (£8), and potato with spinach, tossed
glinting in front of the backlighting. The overall eff ect is ground mustard and honey – delivering a suitably fi ery with cumin, roast garlic and pomegranate seeds (£6). We
intimate and sophisticated. kick. Chicken tikka (£8) was succulent lumps of chicken couldn’t possibly fi nish the dainty selection of naan breads
Executive chef Ajay Chopra has designed a menu of rubbed in a green kaffi r lime leaf and coriander paste, and rosti that they also off ered us, but managed to fi nd
contemporary Indian dishes, which are off ered as either dressed with a purple leaf garnish. They looked exquisite room for three small desserts – a coconut brulée, chocolate
small or large plates – allowing diners to eat either tapas and tasted wonderful. Jumbo prawns (£14) came coated in pudding and a pistachio and saff ron kulfi .
style or a more conventional main meal. Alternatively, you cumin and roast garlic. We couldn’t fault the food. It’s pricier than what you’ll pay
can also order a tasting platter, each of which off er three Moving over to main courses, we shared a lamb and at your local Indian restaurant, but the food is truly in a
diff erent dishes. spinach curry (£21 for a large plate) – very heavy on diff erent stratosphere.
We opted to try a selection of the kitchen’s signature the spinach but that didn’t stop us fi nishing of the entire For a special evening out, or just to expose yourself to
plates. After complimentary poppadums and pickles, we bowl. Chicken chettinad was a pungent bowl of curry, Indian cuisine beyond that off ered by most tandoori
began with soft shell crab, fried in a light tempura coating with choice cuts of chicken in a subtle sauce of tomato, establishments, Mint Leaf is a seductive treat.
and served with chilli sauce (£9 for a small plate). It was curry leaf and chettinad spice (£18.50 for large plate). Side
David Lesniak and David Muniz – two Americans now crumbs making for a perfect spicy coating. It came with a
SWINGING SOHO
residing in London. Their aim is to off er a changing, weekly potato salad.
selection of “classic Southern US cooking.” Being a bakery, the boys speciailise in cakes and brownies,
We started with Mini Macs (£5.95), which was a pleasingly and the dessert menu on the night of our visit consisted
DAVID HUDSON REVIEWS PENDULUM goo-ey and fat-laden little pot of macaroni cheese with of three types of brownie. The indulgent and rich Hepburn
56-58 Frith Street, Soho, W1. a coleslaw-style accompaniment. I opted for the Savoury Brownie (£3.50) was to die for.
0207 734 8300. www.pendulumsoho.co.uk Tart of the Day (£5.95) Service was swift and
– a pleasant mushroom very friendly, with our
and bacon creation. A bit lovely waiter, Thomas,
Recent changes down at 56 Frith Street seemed to have of greenery or garnish bending over backwards
caused a little bit of confusion. In case you’ve missed the wouldn’t have gone to make us feel welcome.
news, what used to be called Profi le has now be renamed amiss, but I couldn’t fault As a restaurant, Pendulum
Pendulum. Profi le bar has been relaunched as an entirely the tart itself. off ers a somewhat limited
new venue on Wardour Street, above Lo-Profi le. Pendulum For main courses, and perhaps unusual food
is a gay bar and restaurant owned by the Vince Power Music my companion had menu. With just three
Group. Veteran scene promoter Patrick Lilley is in charge Grilled Cheese – a thick starters and main courses,
of marketing the place, and is currently busy arranging a sandwich of Texan Toast a little more choice would
variety of diff erent nightly promotions, such as the Queer with mature cheddar and be appreciated. However,
Nation residency on Friday evenings in the main bar. tomato. It was lovely, as the menu changes
Little has changed on the ground fl oor, but acclaimed although £8.95 seemed weekly, it does stand-up
designer Shaun Clarkson has given the fi rst and second a little expensive for to repeated visits
fl oors a bit of a spruce up. Head upstairs if you want to what was basically a – particularly if you’re not
eat. The fi rst fl oor is a nice space – with geometrically- posh cheese and tomato sandwich. I went for Buttermilk currently counting the calories!
patterned black wallpaper, shiny white tables, orange Chicken (£10.95) – which was quite unlike anything I’d had A particularly good time to check it out is at the new
leather banquettes and dinky, clear-bulk light fi ttings. before. A thick, juicy breast of chicken, coated in ground Supper Club, which runs on occasional Thursdays and
The kitchen has been taken over by an outside company sour-dough Pretzels (yes, Pretzels!) that had been soaked features guest speakers and entertainment. For more details
– Outsider Tart. This artisan bakery is run by American boys in buttermilk. It was unusual but I liked it – the Pretzel about this, email Patrick at patricklilley@me.com
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