There really is no denying it. The subcontinent of India does have the best food in the world. Since ‘curry’ just so happens to be Britains national dish, it’s incredibly satisfying to find top notch Indian restaurants in London. By Indian, I mean real Indian, and not what is passed of as Indian by incompetent fakes. Growing up in South India was what made me fall in love with dosai, idli, vadai and other Tamilian food whilst having a close family friend/aunt feeding me Keralan delicacies like appam, chicken stew, putt meant that heaven was usually never too far from the dining table.
Quilon is a 1 Michelin star South Indian restaurant in the Crowne Plaza hotel in Victoria. As the hotel is owned by Taj Hotels (luxury Indian hotel chain) you can be rest assured that the food is going to be amazing – Michelin or not. Having been once before to Quilon, I knew my yearning for South Indian food would be satisfied here.
Keeping to more traditional Indian table etiquette, the restaurant recommends ordering dishes and sharing. A few mini papads along with tomato chutney and coconut chutney kept us happy whilst we waited for our starters. For our starters we decided to go for lentil and spice crusted fish along with crispy cauliflower with chilli and curry leaf, both of which were incredible. The fish was tangy, crispy, little spicy and incredibly aromoatic, whilst the cauliflower was fabulously crispy but not battered (and hence, not bready)
A middle course of tomato rasam was out of this world – it’s basically a spiced tomato water/soup but thats like calling a diamond a shiny stone. A rasam is never to be described, only tasted. It’s spicy, spiced, aromatic, tangy, it flirts with every taste bud and lifts your soul into a blissful daze.
For our mains we went for Mango curry, Mangalorean chicken, Crispy okra and appams. The mango curry is made with raw mangoes in a yoghurt sauce and is exciting, tasty and a lesser known South Indian delicacy. The chicken was superb as was the crispy okra (give me okra any day!) and the appams are fermented rice and coconut pancakes, crispy and frilly on the outside, soft and moist in the centre. Along with this we also had pineapple and pomegranate yoghurt and lemon rice. Such bliss, I tell you, such bliss!
One look at the dessert menu and I was sold: lentil cappucino, cardamom shortbread, fig and honey ice cream. It may sound disastrous, but any Indian will reassure you it’s not. It’s basically a rice pudding made with lentils and spices. It may be an acquired taste for an non-Indian palate, so I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but if you love Indian flavours, then this is a must eat. The warm cardamom shortbreads were special – soft and just balanced with cardamom whilst the ice cream wrapped the whole dish up with glittery ribbons and made it perfect. Stupendously perfect. What better to follow it up with other than South Indian coffee? Happy days!
Incidentally, the name itself, Quilon, is the Anglicised version of Kollam, a city in Kerala. Can’t wait to come back for more!
Overall experience: 7
Recommend you go: 8