In Review

Flora Indica restaurant review: a botanical journey through India

This regal blue restaurant is oozing with nostalgia of times past

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Stepping into Flora Indica takes you on a time-travelling journey 162 years into the past.

Your visit transports you to the time Scottish explorers journeyed to India in search of the world’s most exotic plants. British botanists had originally planned to document all the plants India had to offer but upon discovering there were more than 70,000, they realised the task was bigger than they thought.

However, they didn’t leave empty handed. Armed with nothing but notebooks and pencils, the botanists drew detailed images of 7,000 distinct plants for more than two years and created the book the restaurant earned its name from: Flora Indica.

From the Scottish tweed material on the dining chairs to the artifacts on the walls, this regal blue restaurant is oozing with nostalgia of times past.

The eatery allows you to go on “a taste tour of India” right from your seat. For £44 per person, customers get to try a dish from each section of the menu and for £10 more, a glass of champagne will accompany the meal.

On our tour we journeyed first through the slow-braised short rib glazed with raan sauce and accompanied by turmeric hispi cabbage. The spices of the dish blended well together without fighting for dominance. The meat was tender, while the cabbage was well-seasoned enough that it could’ve been its own dish.

Our next stop was the slow-braised Suffolk lamb shoulder with rogan josh, a traditional Kashmiri dish. The combination of the tender meat with just a hint of citrus left us wanting to order another.

Along our journey we took stops with creamed spinach, artichoke, and prawn which were decent, but the spiced pulled duck cheela and the seviya chicken wings truly stood out. The duck came with coconut chutney and red amaranth, both of which added a flavorful kick and twang. It was also topped with a pound cake made of chickpea flower, which presented a nice balance. The chicken wings had a crisp outer layer and a moist tender centre.

There will be little room for dessert, but if you let that deter you, you will be missing out. We opted for the kulfi semi freddo with falooda noodles and clove-spiced chocolate sauce. The frozen dessert was truly mouthwatering – a cone-shaped chunk of ice cream with a fruit sauce oozing out of the middle and chocolate stripes dancing across it. To top it all off there was an edible flower atop the mountainous construction, a subtle nod to the flowers and spices that inspired those early botanists.

There are numerous botanical ingredients on display in the restaurant’s drinks list. The Chillitini, made with Ketel One vodka, Ancho Reyes, chilli liqueur, pomegranate juice, fig liqueur and citrus, complimented our dishes perfectly.

The basement of the restaurant is “the mind,” of the operation, manager Richard Kingue Kouta says.

“We’re travelling through time here. In the 18th century the only way to travel through India was through steam ship so this is our engine room, this is supposed to be the engine room of a steam ship.”

In this very engine room ,Kunal Nayyar from The Big Bang Theory dined and remarked that here he had the best Indian food he’d ever had outside of India.

Flora Indica isn’t just a curry house. It aims to offer non-traditional Indian dishes whose creation would not have been possible without the discoveries of the British botanists. More than just a meal, Flora Indica is an experience.

Flora Indica, 242 Old Brompton Rd, London, flora-indica.com

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