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Square Meal Review of Benares ?

Benares has been cited as one of London’s top culinary ambassadors, but last year’s feedback suggested standards were slipping and we’ve noticed a further downward trend. On the plus side, the suave vibe is appreciated, although not everyone is sold on the ‘drab’ chocolate and cream-toned dining room with its low ceilings, poor acoustics and echoes of a ‘conference centre’. Michelin-starred celeb chef Atul Kochhar is well capable of delivering some ‘amazing’ dishes founded on studious technique and clever-clever presentation – consider a ’superb’ starter of crispy soft-shell crab with lobster cocktail and chilli cress, khasta murgh (chicken-tikka pie with wild-berry chutney) or pan-roasted stone bass with vermicelli and a beautifully judged coconut and curry-leaf sauce. However, minuscule portions and sky-high prices cause regular complaints, while service can be slow, ‘abrupt’ and ‘charmless’. Thankfully, the well-considered global wine list makes some amends.

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  1. Published : Saturday, 19 July 2014

    My Friends Recommend :: Benares

    f like a lot of us, a large chunk of your celebrity chef knowledge is gleaned from lazy weekend mornings watching BBC's Saturday Kitchen, then you will no doubt be familiar with Atul Kochhar and you have probably already heard of his upmarket Michelin starred Mayfair eatery, Benares.

    This regular face on the show serves Indian food to die for, which means the downside is that your local curry house will never be good enough again.

    If you can afford it, splash the cash on the tasting menu with its paired wines. It is well worth the £82 for the food plus £55 wine cost. The staff are attentive and...
    More from My Friends Recommend »

  1. Published : Sunday, 9 December 2012

    SamTheFoodFan :: Benares

    Another week and another 'end of project' celebratory lunch. We had a lot of people to celebrate with, but this is the last one, I promise! Our American project manager and my dear friend, loves Indian food and so our hosts chose to take us to Benares in the heart of Mayfair.

    Chef Atul Kochhar was the first Indian chef to win a Michelin star (at his previous restaurant Tamarind) and still retains a star at Benares. This isn't your usual curry house you would find on every British High street, that is for sure! Atul combines his heritage Indian flavours with traditionally British ingredients to create a unique...
    More from SamTheFoodFan »

  1. Published : Monday, 24 June 2013

    Samphire and Salsify :: Benares

    Benares is a Michelin starred Indian restaurant in Mayfair. We’ve only had one taste of Indian food at Michelin level before at Trishna in Marylebone which we thought was utterly brilliant, so we were excited about our lunch visit...
    More from Samphire and Salsify »

Private Dining at Benares

The Lounge
Located next to the restaurant, The Lounge is a spacious stand-alone bar that can be hired for exclusive use for up to 30 seated guests (60 standing). Bar platters and canapés can be organised for drinks receptions.

Benares Restaurant
The main dining room at Benares seats up to 100 guests and can be hired for exclusive use. The dining room can be combined with the restaurant’s other private rooms for parties of up to 150 seated (300 standing).

Chef’s Table
This private-dining experience gives views into the Benares kitchen. Groups of up to six people can watch the team at work and meet the chefs as they introduce each course on the private room’s bespoke menu, which includes matching wines. This room can accommodate up to 10 standing.

Berkeley Room
Separated from the sommelier's room by an impressive wine wall, the Berkeley Room features hand-crafted ornamental doors made from Indian wood, and rich terracotta walls. It seats up to 16 people (22 standing)

Dover Room
The largest of Benares’ private rooms can seat up to 36 guests (40 standing). This long room at the far end of the restaurant is perfect for banquets, while its flexible design and sliding doors mean that the space can also be opened up and incorporated into the main restaurant for larger functions.

The Cellar Room

The Cellar Room houses a small proportion of the 600-strong wine list but the bottles lining the walls in black wooden racks and contrasting high-backed taupe padded chairs, combine with white linen tablecloths, napkins and black and gold glass show plates to give the room a distinctly gastronomic feel. Seating up to ten in one long or two tables of five, its set to one side of the main bar and has a glass panel looking out onto the main bar area

Capacities

Private Room Capacity
The Lounge 30
Main Restaurant 100
Chef 6
Berkeley Room 16
Dover Room 34
Exclusive Hire 150
The Cellar Room 10

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Atul Kochhar

Atul Kochhar's interest in food began early, while helping at his father's contract & event catering business in India. Ignoring pressure to become a doctor or engineer, Kochhar followed his heart & took on a chef apprenticeship with the Oberoi group of hotels. He rose through the ranks to become a senior sous chef of the fine-dining restaurant of the Oberoi New Delhi, before being headhunted to come to the UK as head chef of Tamarind, which opened in November 1994. Kochhar was at the helm when Tamarind won its Michelin star in 2001. Finally, Kochhar decided to go it alone, opening Benares as chef-proprietor & continuing his Michelin-starred career.

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