Mar 7, 2012

The Red Fort, Soho, London.

There was really only one kind of cuisine for Mr SSG and I to try on our first cold, wet and windy night in London - Indian.  The Red Fort on Dean Street in Soho was just a short walk from our hotel but I felt every step of it with the wind chill and rain.  The Red Fort is a Soho institution and has been very well received by the British food press.  Its focus is on modern Indian flavours using the best of British produce.  The word 'curry' is barely mentioned in the menu, already setting it apart from its cookie cutter competitors.

From the moment I bit into my pappadum, I knew we were in for a night of Indian food quite different to what I'm used to in Australia.  The pappadums were large, tan rather than pale yellow and were so light that it was hard to believe they were fried.

The Red Fort's owner, Amin Ali strives for originality in the kitchen.  There are regular chef sessions where each chef of the team submits an original dish for the menu.  Despite this, the staff are more than happy to accommodate the particular tastes of customers who crave butter chicken (me) and for things to be 'less spicy' and with 'less garlic'.  Throughout the night, they were very attentive in offering extra chutneys and raitas to those who looked as if they needed them to temper the heat of their dishes.

Soft shell crab, Indian style.

We were a party of 3 for dinner which made it more fun as we could order an extra dish or two to share at the table.  Our first entree was a soft shell crab, cooked in the Indian style.  The flavours were smoky with just a hint of chilli.  The lime juice added a bit of zing to the dish.

Selection plate.
The Selection plate of entrees featured salmon tikka, pocha prawns, spinach patties and mushrooms.  Despite being cooked in the tandoor, the salmon wasn't overcooked and was my favourite of the plate.  The mushrooms were cooked in a cheesy sauce which I'd never tried anywhere else before.

Dumpukht Biryani.

Our table was unanimous in the need for a lamb biryani at the table.  The Red Fort makes theirs with Welsh lamb which was very tender and lean.

Selection of naan.
Our vegetable dish was the Bhindi Asparagus which was a stir fry of okra and asparagus in tomato, onion and spices.  Again, a way of serving vegetables in Indian cuisine that I've never tasted before.  The dish was light and very fresh.  Similarly, the butter chicken had a robust gravy but it wasn't laden with cream or oil.

Bhindi Asparagus (front) with a dob of the excellent cucumber raita.  My special order butter chicken  (right).
It got very dark (and crowded) in the restaurant which was great for atmosphere but terrible for my photos so I wasn't able to get focused pictures of a couple of the mains we shared.

Jhinga Nirala (bottom right).  Dumpukht Biryani (back).
Jhinga Nirala is a dish of king prawns flavoured with a Thai lemon leaf sauce.  It was a unique blend of Asian and Indian flavours.  It was just as well we ordered extra saffron rice because that sauce was too good to waste.

The Red Fort is not your run of the mill Indian restaurant.  As a visitor to London, eating here was an exciting departure from what I perceived Indian food to be (which in reality is a very complex collection of cooking styles from many regions).  However creative the food may be though, there is only one beer that is served here, Kingfisher, that quintessentially Indian beer wherever on the globe you may be.  I am also very grateful to the kitchen for making me butter chicken despite it not being on the menu and my not being a regular customer.

Red Fort on Urbanspoon


  1. Great to see you are having a good curry.  Have you been to the Borough Markets? If you have time, I recommend it.  Keep having fun, Fifi

  2. The Red Fort looks fantastic! I miss having a "Ruby" in London!

  3. Oh my gosh- your writing and the photos are making me crave Indian food. And lucky you- they made butter chicken just for you! It's my fave and I would have wanted it too. 

  4. Yum! What a glorious feast. As I've not been to India, I'd have to say that the best Indian food I've ever eaten was in London. This looks amazing even by London's standards :) 

  5. Have a great weekend sweety from Oslo:)
    Kiss miss


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