Southern Indian Michelin Starred Restaurant
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Indian
Address : 41 Buckingham Gate , Westminster, London, SW1E 6AF, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : www.quilon.co.uk
Opening Times : Mon-Fri 12am-2.30pm & 6pm-11pm; Sat 12.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-11pm; Sun & Bank Holidays 12.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm
Closest Tube : St James's Park
In a time when everybody‘s looking for the next big thing, the expression ‘an oldie but goodie‘ doesn‘t get bandied around very often. But after a trip below Green Park, we‘re thinking that it should. Quilon has been around for a while. Owned by the Taj Hotel Group, it was opened on Buckingham Gate last millennium, and was awarded with a Michelin star not long after, in 2008. While we are accustomed to visiting mostly restaurants that have just opened their doors, we were very happy to dine in a restaurant with such sound fundamentals as Quilon - where each dish has been perfected over a long period of time.
On a Sunday evening Quilon was surprisingly full, with everybody from young couples to families to tourists lounging on low slung seating and slowly making their way through Quilon‘s excellent menu. The dining room was recently redesigned with a colour palette of amber and jade. It‘s dimly lit with occasional spotlights illuminating tables, imbuing it with a nightclub atmosphere akin to Hakkasan. Dark wooden jaali screens separate the different areas of the restaurant, whilst tea candles recessed in the walls cast a flickering, otherworldly light on the scenery.
The reason why you should visit Quilon, however, is the food. Spearheaded by Sriram Aylur, the menu is a love letter to Kerala in specific and South India in general, with an eagle-eye focus on seafood and game. We eschewed the latter in favour of the former. The meal commenced with a raft of chutney, pickles and miniature poppadoms, which turned out to be the perfect complement to cocktails. Our starters arrived soon after. A mini masala dosa was a crisp, rice and lentil pancake impregnated with tempered potatoes and vegetables and accompanied by a kiln of sambhar - a Tamil tamarind and lentil broth. For anyone with a penchant for the piscine, the Fisherman‘s Catch is non-negotiable. A wooden canoe is brought to the table brimming with piquant pepper shrimp, ginger and green chilli crab cakes, lentil fish and grilled scallops.
We continued along the aquatic path, and were well rewarded. We split three main courses with a side of lemon rice and buttery Malabar parathas. Prawns prepared masala style were grilled with onion tomato, mustard, curry leaves and coconut. Baked black cod would hold punches with its Japanese cousin at Nobu, rich and subtly spiced. However, the Quilon fish curry was a tour de force, immersing cubes of tender halibut in a thin sauce of coconut, chilli and raw mango.
Dessert was a bit of a tall ask with all of the food that we‘d eaten, but we managed to split a delicious, diminutive spiced cold chocolate fondant with pistachio custard and candied pistachio. We thoroughly enjoyed the culinary odyssey through the region and would be happy to make return visits. Quilon is almost definitely the best restaurant in Westminster, and reasonably priced at that.