Home Travel ReviewsAccommodation Reviews Colonel Saab restaurant review, Trafalgar Square, London

Colonel Saab restaurant review, Trafalgar Square, London

Colonel Saab restaurant offers sublime Indian cuisine inspired by the travels around the sub-continent of an Indian army officer.

by Sharron Livingston

A big thank you to the veritable Colonel Saab aka Colonel Manbeer Choudhary, an Indian Army officer, and his wife Mrs. Binny Choudhary for contributing to my recent culinary enjoyment in what may be one of the best Indian restaurants in London. Since I can’t do it in person, I am happy to pay homage to them by enjoying a cuisine curated by their travels.

Artworks at Colonel Saab Trafalgar Square

Artworks at Colonel Saab restaurant in London

The couple spent many years meandering around India, picking up recipes and a huge array of artwork along the way. A generation later their son, restaurateur Roop Partap Choudhary, collated and modernised their recipes and retrieved artworks from those roamings and is sharing the spoils in his two Colonel Saab restaurants in London, one in Holborn and a new one in Trafalgar Square.

I was delighted to be invited to spend a delightful evening devouring their new five-course tasting menu in the Trafalgar Square restaurant which, in essence, is a taste of India according to the Choudhary family history.

Ambience

Entrance is through an ordinary, mundane even, front door that doesn’t prepare for the ornate wood-floored interior.

Colonel saab bar

Colonel Saab marble bar crafted by Asprey

The centrepiece is a magnificent marble bar crafted by Asprey that was once the pride of the Maharaja of Patiala. Hanging from the mezzanine floor is a dance of dramatic pinkish Firozabad glass chandeliers while brick and terracotta-hued walls drip with artwork.

Colonel Saab walls dripping with artwork

Frankly, it was a visual overload and I wondered where to look –  the 17th and 18th-century paintings? Framed letters? 16th-century Tanjore art on wood? Or 18th-century porcelain plates (amazingly I had seen similar plates at my grandma’s place).

There are even a few handmade wooden doors hailing from temples of Gujarat and Nepal hanging on the wall with a valuable Rabab lute and antique bedsteads. And on it goes.

The panoply arouses so many questions that the manager offers curious souls an after-dinner tour. I took that opportunity, but not before I had settled at my table, eye-up the Colonel Saab’s new tasting menu and feasted.

Food & Drink

This evening it was all about Memsaab’s Tasting Menu comprising classic Indian dishes and regional specialities with a contemporary twist.

We started with Rasam. This is a tomato and lentil soup served with mini idli – savoury rice cakes – and puffed pastry bites. They say this is popular as a breakfast food in Southern India. Kudos to them; for me, it was palate-burningly hot but despite that, it was so delicious I had to finish it off right down to the last spicy slurp. The waiter brought me some yoghurt to sort out the burn. It was so worth it.

The decorative Marwad’s Raj Kachori rice puff ball turned up next. This was deep filled with spiced chickpeas, potatoes, pomegranate seed boondi topped with yoghurt, tamarind sauce and green chutney sauce. The colourful garnish was shredded carrots and beetroot and yellow balls of rice cakes. This was a formidable explosion of flavours, the kind you want to savour to keep the pleasure going.

On the side of the plate hiding under a leaf was a spoonful of Chavanprash – a paste containing 107 herbs to help with digestion.

Colonel Saab Anglo Indian chicken chop

Colonel Saab Anglo Indian chicken chops

Two teardrop-shaped cutlets of Anglo-Indian Chicken chops were served as the next course. These were Madras spiced pulled chicken cutlets served with a salad of sorts and a tomato raisin relish. Have you ever tried to “pull” chicken? It’s really, really difficult to achieve yet here it was delicious, soft, almost melting the mouth, full of texture and beautifully spiced.

After a mango sorbet palate cleanser came the Nada fish curry for me- beans poriyai, a soft Malabar parath-  and Sunday lamb curry – cumin potato and butter naan for my partner. Both came with steamed rice and a smoky, earthy dal makhani.

Colonel saab platter

Colonel saab Nada fish curry with Malabar paratha

We ended the feast with a raspberry, pistachio and coconut tart served with berries and pistachio sprinkles and a Mishti Doi cheesecake. The latter is a Bengali dessert of sweetened and flavoured yoghurt cake and jaggery syrup. We shouldn’t have done it, but we couldn’t help ourselves.

VERDICT: Colonel Saab restaurant is visually wondrous and gastronomically delicious with flavours that truly please the palate. A lovely night out.

 

How much:

  • Memsaab’s Tasting Menu – £80
  • Pair with wine add £50
  • Pair with cocktail add £60
  • Pair with Champagne add £105

Location: Colonel Saab, Trafalgar Square, 42 William IV St, London WC2N 4DD

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