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The term ‘Tardis’ springs to mind – alongside fantastical, exuberant & OTT – when describing this 300-cover Indian pleasure dome just off Oxford Street. Customers enter through a relatively
small ground-floor lobby, & a member of staff in flowing gear leads everyone past carved screens & water features to a double-height dining room crammed with greenery & artefacts. A
celebration of the culinary styles that grew out of French colonisation, the menu is big on specialities from Pondicherry, such as a spiced seafood cassoulet or Creole duck breast with a spiced
tamarind sauce. But there is also plenty to satisfy those who would rather stay in the more familiar world of tandoori grills, biryanis & chicken tikka masala. Staff are willing, &
fixed-prices lunches are an attractive proposition. ‘An absolute treat.’
Square Meal is proud to be supporting homeless charity StreetSmart in their 2014 campaign, for the sixth year running. StreetSmart works with over 500 restaurants nationwide by adding £1 to every bill throughout November and December, which is donated to local homeless charities.
The comparatively understated exterior gives you no indication as to what lies within and you walk through a small entrance straight into a two-storey, domed, palm-strewn extravaganza. I wasn’t expecting to find this oversized conservatory behind Marble Arch and it was a surprise. Apparently, it was converted from an old Edwardian ballroom. According to its website, it boasts lots of antique artefacts and a 40ft waterfall. Perhaps I was too engrossed in conversation (it has been known), but I didn’t actually notice the waterfall. No matter, there was plenty to occupy me on the menu...
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So on matters Gallic and spice we arrive neatly at the kitschly splendid palace of La Porte des Indes, a restaurant of quite Titanic proportions in a tardis fashion, nestled in a Mayfair warren. Quite why I’d never heard of this sumptuous Southern Indian French Creole culinary Mecca (and, breathe) is a mystery, although from the outside you wouldn’t guess at what lies beyond the doors. It’s bold, overstated, colourful and tropical all at once; a sort of Keralan equivalent of a tiki bar if you like, although draws it’s influence from Pondicherry, a former French trading quarter. Think Quaglino’s meets Mahiki. I know,...
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