Hankies @ The Montcalm (Indian) – Marble Arch, LondonAdvertisement Advertisement HALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu except guinea fowl
For one, this eatery is part of the 5 star boutique hotel located a few roads down from Hyde Park Corner called The Montcalm.
Secondly, the brains behind this venture is Anirudh Arora (check out our interview in the video below), a former protégé of Michelin-starred Indian chef Atul Kochhar.
With that said, Chef Arora has opened two restaurants, including sister restaurant Hankies Cafe in Soho, before launching this in the middle of Upper Berkeley Street in January of this year.
And the menu appears to be an exciting one too, as it aims to elevate the small plates of casual Delhi street food into something far more sophisticated while presenting these in a beautifully chic, modern setting befitting of a luxury hotel.
There’s also the option of hiring their spacious private dining room for between 15-20 with the restaurant catering for bespoke menus.
The name Hankies is actually derived from the style of rotis this restaurant specialises in. Hence, in ordering a portion of their Roomali Roti, which, if it’s your first time, ought to be the reason for your visit, you’ll get to see the restaurant’s artisan roti-maker deftly tossing humongous pieces of semi-transculcent and ultra-thin spherical dough high into the air to help further its surface area, before expertly landing it atop a large, burning hot Roomali Tawa, and finally folding it into hankie to be served.
A trio of mocktails and a lassi opened up proceedings, with the latter turning out to be quite the milky drink.
While we found the ice to water things down, it didn’t quite spoil how gorgeously thick and luscious this lassi was courtesy of the Greek yoghurt. As such, it was well balanced, and certainly not your typical sweet or watery type. Forget the ice and enjoy this on a nice hot summer’s evening alongside one of the more spicier dishes reviewed below.
Of the mocktails, the Angoori Ginger, whose initial hit of minty freshness quickly gave way to the ginger which lingered pleasantly at the back of the palate, was expertly balanced and combined beautifully with the apparent flavour of grape therein. Beautifully layered with clear tones.
As for the Smash Berry, then the vanilla, despite being relatively tempered by the crispy sweet apple juice, caused this to err on the sweet side.
The ruby coloured Raspberry Kiss was the least powerful, but arguably the most intriguing, with the shredded raspberry making this an attractive looking mocktail. In the end, the mixture of the raspberry, cranberry and the ginger ale made this a tasty one.
With a truly crispy-cum-crunchy exterior, it was the marriage between the herby batter, with its subtle spices, and the sweet ‘n’ sour mango dip that made this such an addictive munch.
And though the cod had that deliciously familiar fishy taste, we would have enjoyed more than just the three fingers for that price.
This is how the masala water for any Gol Guppa should be: powerful, heady and in your face.
In this case, and had with the crispy balls full of an assortment of fillings, we received the full brunt of masala chaat hit along with the salty and sour. One of the best we’ve had!
Taste-wise, it was pretty darn good too with the variety of flavours and textures making this an interesting eat.
The raviolo was softly textured, warmly spiced, with a nice chewiness to the chicken.
Couple that with the lentil salsa and the chilli oil, and this was a really nice dish.
Another innovative plate which, as it turned out, actually split the crowd.
In spite of two Lions considering this to be a “spicy, tangy, crispy, crunchy, sweet, aromatic” dish which ultimately served as “a very surprising experience” that “shows great promise for the rest of the menu”, the remaining Lion considered the texture to be “a weird one” what with the dried okra “almost tasting stale by the end”.
In all, a thought-provoking and challenging one.
A nicely presented Dahi Bhalla which turned out to be far sweeter than we’d anticipated.
As such, while the tamarind provided that expected sweet tanginess, and the pomegranate seeds a tiny crunch, the sweet yoghurt, in spite of the hint of spice therein, meant that this came across as more a dessert than anything else. What was needed was something sour to properly counter said sweetness.
As for Hankies’, then this was an incredible piece of meat. Expertly spiced in a chilli oil marination and perfectly barbecued to achieve a delicate crust, we were presented with a thick, juicy chop of epic proportions that was dreamily tender, with the knife just gliding through with ridiculous ease.
One of the best we’ve ever had!
For all intents and purposes, this masala-laden fish dish shouldn’t have worked, particularly given the strength of its marination; and yet it did.
Even with all that masala pasted across the top, and despite the thinness of the seabass with its crispy skin, the natural sweetness of the soft, flaky fish managed to filter through nicely.
Nevertheless, the yoghurt dip may be required from time to time to help temper the heat, which for us lingered in the background.
The difference of opinion revolved around the level of smokiness achieved here.
Thus, while one Lion described this as “tremendous”, thereby appreciating how this complimented the delicate spices used as a marination in cooking such soft and tender prawns, another thought it was “far too salty after the initial cumin hit” with ” too much burnt char” and not enough of the chive and garlic.
The third reviewer thought that the squeeze of lime along with the mint drizzle helped balanced things out enough to make this a good skewer.
It was all about the quality of the chicken utilised in this Peshwari Tikka.
Full of natural flavour, with the light herb marination allowing the poultry to stand on its own two feet, it was as tender as you’d like, and went well with the coriander and chilli drizzle.
This ‘Gosht’ 5 Oz Ribeye was accompanied by a cute little mortar and pestle full of a garlic, paprika and masala rub. All that was required was a liberal sprinkle of said rub, before carving the meat up appropriately, and devouring it with unabandoned glee.
What we encountered was a mouthwateringly juicy piece of ribeye perfectly cooked to medium, with crispy fatty edges. The masala succeeded in adding a light fragrant salty-cum-chilli aftertaste, which one Lion considered superfluous given the sheer quality of the steak.
POTS & PANS
This was the chilliest dish we had on the evening, though not in an unpleasant way.
Nevertheless, the aroma and taste of the crab stood true, with the pot having an almost soft, omelette-esque texture to it.
Thoroughly enjoyed this unique Kankda; but, may not be appropriate for the chilli-challenged.
This Gosht Kacchi Mirch was a well made curry, with plenty of tender cubes of lamb that were addictively chewy, rich in flavour, and covered in a semi-dry marination.
An excellent dish that demands one or two of the crunchy tandoor naans mentioned below.
Wow; now this is how a Butter Chicken should be. The depth of rich, buttery flavour achieved in this fingerlicking, sweet and spicy curry sauce had us cooing with utter delight.
The chicken was soft, the heat perfectly judged, and would go well with either naan or plain rice.
There’s a reason why they’ve stamped their name against this lentil pot. In light of its creamy consistency, with the lentil managing to retain some good texture, this was a well executed Hankies Dal. The heat, courtesy of the garam masala, was warm enough to linger soothingly. In short, perfectly tempered and good enough to enjoy on its own.
But, arguably the dish of the evening, was this amazing Khumb Kofta. The mushroom kofta was huge, softly textured, and surrounded by plenty of smooth, creamy sauce that was deliciously sweet, courtesy of the cardamom, with a spicy undertone. Absolutely lovely and highly recommended!
Given the heady piquancy of the finely matured blue cheese filling, this was an outstandingly good naan, which retained enough of its crispiness to make it a really enjoyable eat.
Probably the best Blue Cheese Naan we’ve ever had!
A really decent attempt at a Keema Naan. With a soft exterior, you’ll certainly be making recourse to the accompanying sweet yoghurt, given how strongly spiced the keema is.
A tremendous trio of homemade achars and chutneys.
The Mushroom was tender, pickly, mellow, with a touch of heat; the Chicken tender and oily; and the Tomato ‘N’ Sultana a sweet chutni with a hint of masala chaat to it.
What made this such a delicious dessert was the balance achieved in terms of its overall sweetness.
The lovely caramel sauce drizzled over the Gola, or sphere, worked nicely against the bitterness of the dark chocolate shell and the tutti fruittiness of the ice cream interior, which, truth be told, could have been less frozen.
The cubes of soft walnut brownie had a lovely chewiness to them, while the nuts added some textural contrast.
A top, top Masala Chocolate Fondant!
Just imagine: a decadently gooey, rich chocolatey centre; a perfect soft exterior with a touch of crispiness to it; all nestled beside a smooth, though not overpoweringly strong, coconut ice cream.
The dessert of the review we’d say. This Gulukhand Kheer was a pot of delights.
Relying on the natural sweetness of the caramelised, melt-in-your-mouth mango wedge, this was expertly judged vis-à-vis sweetness. What we had here was a seemingly rose flavoured rice pudding, with bits of crunchy ginger honeycomb and pistachio crumb, all of which came together to utterly floor us!
Another well conceived dish this Meetha ‘Caviar’. Made up of three elements: barfi, biscuit cake, and halwa, we appreciated each element for what it was.
The barfi, or cheese as it’s called on the menu, was exquisite both in terms of its smooth texture, and its cardamom-infused taste. Both were so well judged.
The fruit cake melba was good, and the orange halwa slightly sticky and pleasant to taste.
What better way to end the evening than some tea and coffee.
We enjoyed the way in which the mild bitterness of the coffee played out against the masala therein. As such, we preferred this over its cousin below.
Far milder than the coffee above, what made these two beverages far more memorable was the selection of various Indian-based cane sugars, smartly presented in a specially designed wooden box, that came with them.
We were, thus, left to experiment with the three choices, making this an enjoyably relaxing finale to a high quality evening.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- UBER EATS
Not only has chef Anirudh Arora given great thought and consideration to each dish, but also possesses the requisite skills for pulling off what is an ambitious and innovative little menu.
What's more, if the prices aren't enough to entice you down, especially given the location (Marble Arch of all places), then our review and the final rating ought to.
NOTE: The duck, which was sadly unavailable on the evening of our review, is now Halal.
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