The latest edition to Mayfair's opulent food scene, Jamavar busts the myth that you wine and curry don't marry. See Fiona Beckett's journey of sensory discovery and culinary delight, featuring Old Delhi butter chicken and Malai stone bass tikka...
Jamavar Mayfair, London
My dining companion was so thrilled with her meal she had already started plotting her return by course three…
Ask a wine lover about their favourite Indian restaurant and chances are it’ll be some small town in Surrey with a dreary wine list where they always end up drinking Kingfisher. The myth still persists – despite the efforts of London’s best Indian restaurants – that you can’t combine curry and wine. Until recently, restaurants that have tried have tended to go down the fine-dining route, producing small, exquisite, jewel-like creations with a hint rather than a thwack of spice. It’s almost as if they don’t believe it either.
But now along comes Jamavar in Mayfair’s pricey Mount Street where, despite an ambitious wine list (in terms of range and price), there’s no toning down of the flavour intensity. Maybe that’s because it’s the London outpost of a luxury Indian chain, but more probably because the chef is the talented Rohit Ghai, whom the owners had the chutzpah to seduce from much-fêted rival Gymkhana.
In the £30 four-course lunch menu (yes, unusually it is worth ordering dessert), the flavours sing. A bright, crunchy mutter chat samosa explodes with crunchy sev (deep-fried gram flour), while Malai stone bass tikka, as perfectly cooked a piece of fish as you could wish for, is accompanied by a marvellously thick green cardamom and avocado chutney. Old Delhi butter chicken is rich, creamy and tender, and a beautifully presented rhubarb chuski falooda (a textured milk pudding) would have made a great match for a dessert wine.
We decide to give the five-course vegetarian menu (£50) a run through too, to see how the kitchen would rise to the challenge. It did. Highlights were idli (delectably puffy little steamed rice cakes) with dark earthy beetroot and a tamarind broth, and stuffed aubergine, which arrived with an extraordinarily good black dal.
Wine service is a bit tentative, especially given the prices – though frankly if you’re patronising an establishment that occupies one of the most expensive bits of real estate in Mayfair, what do you expect? We struggled to find a bottle under £40, ending up with a Lis Neris, Fiore di Campo Friulano 2014 that actually survived the spice onslaught remarkably well.
The wine flight, which is available with the seven-course menus, is not unreasonably priced at £50 given the cost of the rest of the list, though I feel seven different wines could be wearing with food this complex.
My dining companion was so thrilled with her meal she had already started plotting her return by the time she got to course three. I may join her.
Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer. To get the first look at her bar and restaurant reviews from all over the world, subscribe to Decanter Magazine here
8 Mount Street
London W1K 3NF
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