Indian Accent London restaurant review: acutely excellent
Inventive Indian with a dash of Mayfair flair
Four years ago, scientists in India undertook an unusual research project, attempting to decode what makes their country's food so popular by analysing it at a molecular level.
Researchers from the Indian Institute for Technology in Jodhpur discovered that unlike Western cooking, which tends to pair similar ingredients, Indian cuisine often brings together flavours with almost no overlap at all.
"We found that average flavour sharing in Indian cuisine was significantly lesser than expected," the researchers said.
In other words, the more two ingredients share a flavour profile, the less likely they are to co-star in a single Indian dish.
Yet new science is surely called for to determine why the dishes at India Accent are so far ahead of those being served up by many of the restaurant’s high-end Indian peers.
A visit to the restaurant begins simply enough: Indian Accent occupies a handsome though not ostentatious space and offers a menu that is subdivided in more or less the usual fashion, with firsts, seconds, mains, breads, sides and desserts.
This however is where the familiar ends and the excellence begins.
Our meal opens with an amuse bouche, a puffy blue cheese-filled naan accompanied by a micro jug of pumpkin and coconut chorba – an understatedly spectacular pairing.
Next up, our starters arrive, with selections well steered by our waiter to accommodate my dining partner’s dietary restrictions.
The tadka hamachi, a subtle sashimi-like dish, served with avocado and Calcutta chutney is beautiful to look at - scattered with pomegranate seeds and edible flowers - but even better to devour. It achieves that rare feat of being simultaneously rich yet light; satiating yet moreish.
Alongside it, meetha achaar pork ribs, basted in sundried mango and onion seeds arrive perfectly tender, their meat falling off the bone. The Wild Boy Chardonay we opt for alongside it all is a citrusy delight, bringing out the best of both meats.
What follows reinforces what has come before - seared scallops and chilli prawns are served with dried shrimp rice, reinvigorating a classic combination through a contemporary lens.
The night’s showstopper, though, is the ghee roast lamb, a nod, surely, to the classic Chinese Peking duck. Here though, gauze-thin roti pancakes stand in for rice paper, and chutney for hoisin.
Like everything on the menu, it is a triumph that I definitely plan to subject to further scientific scrutiny, as I begin plotting my return visit even before I have put down my cutlery and asked for the bill.
Indian Accent, 16 Albemarle St, Mayfair; indianaccent.com