Pan Indian Restaurant in London
Baluchi is a pan-Indian dining restaurant in London within the Lalit hotel, set in the historic Grade II listed former St. Olave’s Grammar School. Baluchi can be found in what was the Great Hall and it’s one seriously stunning location. The high ceiling, royal blue colour, dark woods and beams, floor to ceiling windows and chandeliers give it a truly sophisticated, regal feel.
The service reflected the sophisticated, premium feel. It was attentive, super friendly and passionate. We were introduced to Chef Jomon who was happy to talk us through the Naan’ery experience. Our host also introduced the wine for each course and made sure we were happy throughout.
Chef Jomon was funny, passionate and absolutely lovely. He told us tales and stories from India, the history to naan and tiffins (they are lunch boxes with different levels which used to be shared among colleagues/friends at lunchtime) and made plenty of jokes. You could see his passion for the food, and his team, shine through throughout the whole evening. He even introduced us to part of the team and let us know that they all have a say in the menu and how things are presented at Baluchi.
The Naan’ery experience, The bread bar
The Naan’ery experience at the bread bar (£55 for solo, £99 for two) at Baluchi, features four courses of bread with accompanying dips and wine, followed by a tiffin to share. We were sat at the bar, right at the front of the restaurant, where we could see the breads being prepared.
Chef Jomon told us how to make the naan – we even got to have a hand at making them ourselves! We rolled, filled and flattended them, ready for Chef Jomon to bake in the tandoor oven which is super hot! It was a fantastic experience getting to help and see it all up close. We were impressed by the fact they had a tandoor oven out by the bar so the bread could be cooked right in front of people dining.
The first naan course is a fig and cheese kulcha, made with paneer. The paneer was grated rather than in the usual chunky form, making it spread throughout and giving the naan a creamier finish overall, rather than just little pockets of oozy cheese. The fig added a sweet edge too.
The taste wasn’t too powerful, but it was still delicious. The bread itself, served warm, is just so tasty! It came with a potent coriander dip, and together was seriously dreamy with the slightly sweet and herby flavours coming together. The wine paired was a fantastic fresh and slightly citrus champagne, which went beautifully with the milder flavours and the coriander too.
The second naan is a porcini and truffle one. It’s a delicate balance of earthy truffle and nutty mushrooms. The definition of umami – a flavour which enlightens all the taste buds in the mouth. It arrived with a powerful tamarind dip, which added an extra element to the potent flavours and complimented the mushroom well. The paired wine was an MS Fratelli White; a smooth, crisp wine which complimented the mushroom well.
The third bread course is a blue cheese naan made with a French blue. Again, this isn’t overly powerful, yet the blue cheese adds a nice creamy touch and a delicious underlying flavour. You wouldn’t have thought it was blue cheese though if you hadn’t been told – this bread actually changed Chef Jomon’s opinion on this type of cheese! It came with a delicious, tangy tomato dip making this course almost remind us of pizza – the cheese and the tomato.
A glass of the MS Fratelli Red was served to accompany the naan. It was full-bodied, with tannins, making it quite potent. We thought the wine was fab, although perhaps could have had a slightly lighter variety to go with the cheese.
Last but not least, we ended on a sweet note with a coconut and mango naan. It reminded us a touch of peshwari, subtle-y sweet. It’s served with a fantastic red berry/cherry dip, making it feel like a dessert option. A small glass of Muscat de Beaumes Devenise accompanied the final course. It’s a sweet dessert wine which is very sweet, and incredibly moreish. We couldn’t get enough.
The breads were rounded off with a tiffin filled with Butter Chicken, Dal Baluchi, pilau rice and carrot halwa. The butter chicken was tender, creamy and aromatic. A fab, smooth and tasty curry which isn’t very spicy. We loved the lentil dal which was packed with flavour, and the pilau rice was perfectly cooked and fluffy. The carrot halwa was super sweet and stodgy making a delicious end to such a feast.
Baluchi and The LaLit also have a couple of bars on-site – the Headmasters Room and the Teachers Room, both named after the locations they now take. The Headmasters bar offers cognacs and champagnes, whilst the teachers bar offers cocktails and mocktails. There is plenty to choose from if you fancy an additional drink or two.
The Kashmiri Garden (£15) was a beautiful sweet cocktail, with Jasmine tea infused rum, Lavender syrup, Italicus Rosolio, rose water and fresh lime juice. It wasn’t overly floral but had a subtle rose touch.
The Indian Summer (£12) was a little more tropical and bitter, yet just as tasty. Made with Sipsmith dry gin, homemade chai tea syrup, Nardini rhubarb bitter, fresh lime juice and ginger beer, the flavours came together to form one super summery cocktail.
This was an incredible experience at a seriously stunning pan Indian restaurant in London. There was also next level service, which such passion and humour radiating from Chef Jomon.
The naans themselves, as well as the tiffin, were all packed with beautiful, creative and well-thought out flavours and absolutely delicious. The wines were beautifully selected and well-paired. For the amount of food, drink and the overall experience, it is reasonably priced – great for a special occasion!
East London Girl: Baluchi
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