Benares 22

12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square , London, W1J 6BS

020 7629 8886

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SquareMeal Review of Benares

A beacon for Asian fine dining since 2003, Michelin-starred Benares brings French-inspired refinement to spice-based cooking “without depleting the authenticity of Indian flavour”. The kitchen delivers “awesome food” and “real creativity” across the board, although tasting menus are the undoubted showcase for chef Atul Kochhar’s talents – from pan-seared scallops with broccoli couscous and pine-nut podi (dry powder) to a crisp, puffy chicken tikka pie or tandoori lamb cutlets with rich, rogan-inspired jus and creamy black dhal makhani. Inventive set lunches might include piri-piri quail with smoked beetroot or prawn curry with Bengali-spiced kimchi, while a dessert of tarte Tatin infused with anise and fennel typifies the crossover approach. Kindly, engaging staff deliver “spotless service” in the slick, smart, white-on-black dining room, while street food and quirky cocktails are the main business in the lounge bar. Wine picks tackle the spicing admirably. “Pricey, but perfect for special occasions”, says a fan.

Restaurant & Bar Gift Vouchers

Squaremeal Gifts are vouchers that can be redeemed in over 70 restaurants and bars in the UK, including this one.

Special offers

2 courses & champagne cocktail: £29

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 6 diners. Includes VAT. excludes service.

3 Courses & champagne cocktail: £35

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.

6 course tasting menu, & Atul's book £98

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.

5-course Street Food Menu & Cocktail for 2 £40, In the Bar area only

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.

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6.0

Food & Drink: 6.5

Service: 5.5

Atmosphere: 6.3

Value: 5.3

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Jan W. 07 July 2015

We often eat at Benares especially using the special offers as we have always felt it was good value. Unfortunately yesterday although the offer clearly stated complimentary cocktail we were not offered one even though I raised the question. We were also charged for naan bread which was again shown as complimentary on the menu.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

bronze reviewer 26 September 2014

Professionally and personally, my meal last night at Benares was outstanding. The culmination of staff, food, drink and service was as a combined effort well worth its Michelin star. My party of six had an early sitting of 6.00 pm. We all arrived around that time where we sat in the bar and were not once rushed or urged to take our table, finally moving over to the restaurant around 6.30 pm. Being an #eventprof I had emailed prior to our reservation to Benares to ask to see the kitchen, chef’s table and other event spaces. The staff there bent over backwards to accommodate and showed myself and my family to the chef’s table and gave an in-depth explanation of the kitchen. We were even told if it wasn't booked we would have been welcomed to dine in there which blew me away and makes total sense. What an amazing experience it would have been…. The Chef’s table sits 4 comfortably and the kitchen (whilst not huge) was buzzing. The price for the chef’s table is only £100 minimum spend per person – well worth it for a special occasion or client event. Benares also has 3 further private event spaces. My husband now has his eye on the Sommerlier’s table where the Michelin starred cuisine is carefully matched to exquisite wines. There is a further 2 private event rooms and a buyout available for the whole restaurant accommodating 150 seated and 300 standing. Once seated, we were given the set menu which we had pre-booked through Bookatable. The deal is amazing. As well as a signed cookbook for only £35.00 per person, you get a 3 course meal and this amazing passion fruit cocktail (to which I had 2 hence the hangover this morning). Most of my party started with the Classic Lamb “Shami”, Mint and Tamarind Relish, Baby Radish which was fabulously presented and whilst not a huge portion, was just enough. My husband had the Bhatti Spice and Beetroot Cured Salmon, Cucumber Crème Fraîche, Fried Capers and this seemed a better choice for us and we all had food envy. For mains everyone had the same (apart from me as I am difficult). Everyone went for the Tandoori Spiced Quail Supreme, Wild Mushroom Biryani, Quail Egg, Pineapple Raita and I had food envy. It was absolutely delicious. I ordered from the A la Carte and paid a supplement. I had the Kadai Chicken ‘Classic and Contemporary’ Organic Chicken Cooked Two ways, English Peppers and Tomatoes, Chilli Oil. Whilst it was amazing, I should have also gone for the set menu option and had the quail. Each dish was fabulously presented and came with 4 different types of Nan to which we even asked for more. We got through a few bottles of wine (which also explains the hangover) to which for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called… It sure was tasty though and am pretty sure my husband (I like saying husband. We just got married lol) said it was a Malbec blend and around £30 a bottle. The highlight and best part of Benares though has to be the staff. They are attentive, knowledgeable and quiet frankly outstanding. Working in the industry you deal with a vast array of waitstaff and the Benares staff were the best I have had the pleasure of seeing. Nothing was too much trouble, they were in abundance and seriously, could not do enough for us. We told them it was our wedding a few weeks ago and that we were celebrating our parents wedding anniversary and the attention they gave us just made the evening. After pudding, we had a congratulations plate each that was delicious and were honored to meet Chef Atul… twice! I will definitely be going back. I think we all will and in terms of events, you really need to use the private dining rooms. I would use the Chef’s table for a client dinner or lunch without hesitation and as I mentioned above, I think my husband has his eye on using the Sommerlier’s table for one of his boys nights out. 5 Star on my #fance rating.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Gourmand Gunno platinum reviewer 30 May 2014

It doesn’t matter how many times I go to Benares, I just can’t get to like it. This was the first time for me for a while, but it hadn't improved since my previous visit. Clearly chef Atul Kochhar must be doing something right to have earned a Michelin star for the eighth consecutive year, and while the food may have been good, it certainly wasn’t outstanding, the whole experience far from cheap, and the atmosphere underwhelming. With regard to the latter, it is hard to get excited about a bland brown and white furnished room with no natural light, clinically minimalist décor and fairly appalling acoustics. Moreover, the clientele seemed largely to be of the suited sort, most likely dining on expense accounts. A brief look at the menu explains why: starters begin at £14 and one is hard pressed to find a main for less than £30. Atul’s angle seems to be one of selecting classic British ingredients such as Scottish halibut or New Forest venison and literally spicing them up with Indian flavours. The approach certainly works, even if some of the dishes do come across as being unnecessarily complex. My starter, for example, of crispy soft shell crab sounded appealing enough, but the addition of a ‘chilli squid ring’ and passion fruit salsa was perhaps excessive, the flavours jarring rather than melding. One of my comrades also pointed out that what Benares gained in presentation and taste (our mains were all excellent), they lost in terms of quantity. Small portions at these prices seems most egregious. The extras also lead to the bill mounting up: gin & tonic at £13, or a humble espresso at £3.75; is this really justifiable? At this price, one would at least expect superlative service. Our experience would characterise it as average-good, and by no means memorably good. One stand-out fault, which one wouldn’t expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant was our server bringing amuse-bouches to our tables while one of our party was using the bathroom. This meant the dishes sat there looking sorry for themselves for some time and our conversation was interrupted not once but twice in order for the server to introduce the dish (again) when our party was finally complete. If you’re after posh Indian in London, give me Gymkhana or Veeraswamy any day.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Nalini C. 18 November 2013

The evening stared really well. The atmosphere in the whole restaurant is brilliant and the staff very efficient, but as an Indian diner with a couple of English friends, I felt that the staff seemed to think that the English couple were ‘superior’ to us and gave a bit more attention to them. I had booked the table so felt that my partner and I should have been consulted first about ordering drinks or dealing with the bill etc.. Perhaps the staff do not realise that they are behaving like this. I would not fault the reataurant on anything else.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

GH platinum reviewer 07 November 2013

Excellent traditional Indian food. Buzzy atmosphere. Service is friendly but can be slow specially the bar service is rather abrupt.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Foodess platinum reviewer 14 July 2013

We were underwhelmed by all the food a couple of weeks ago. It scraped through as good, although service maintained standard. Benares was one of my favourites but it has to do better to warrant another visit. July 2013. Could Atul Kochhar match the subtle spicing of a lamb cutlet second time around, I wondered after booking a table at Benares? Most definitely….and not just spices were clever but textures too. Softshell crab was a superb opening dish for me, as was rabbit which both I and my co-diner thought divine. Although lamb wasn’t chosen this time, Monkfish was recommended without falter and I was utterly pleased that it had been – the flavours lived on in my memory for longer than average. Steamed basmati rice separated like grains of sand running through fingers and was the best I had encountered. Duck main didn’t quite do it for me, but then that wasn’t my main course choice. Décor was slightly suspect with plaster-of-paris panel design on walls, but otherwise a pleasant space, and with food this good, surroundings were of little consequence. Showing an interest in the food and the chef’s skill, we were asked if we would like to meet Mr Kochhar, which marked the occasion neatly. Compliments about his food were met with humble response and in that short encounter, he seemed like a pretty decent person who deserves the recognition he gets. In 2010, considering we were in a Michelin starred Mayfair restaurant on a Tuesday evening, £120 (a la carte) for two people including a couple of glasses of wine, water and beer seemed pretty good value to me.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Katherine C. bronze reviewer 17 March 2013

I booked this for a Saturday night at 2130, intending to head out afterwards for a glass or two. However the starters still hadn't arrived by 2245, after which the main then took a further 50 minutes. Got out of there after midnight (without desserts or coffee as the restaurant was empty before we had even finished our mains). Of course this is too late to get in anywhere in Mayfair, so we all gave up after what was a thoroughly disappointing evening. Extremely average food, nothing memorable at all, and the service was absolutely appalling. Avoid.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 1.0

Pinakin P. 26 February 2013

- the restaurant cancelled my booking the day before Valetines day, with no explaination – feel free to book but do expect them to cancel at the last minute – thanks guys

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Maria B. bronze reviewer 07 August 2012

Disappointed with Benares. I had been looking forward to going to this restaurant for a very long time and when I did, it was really nothing special. We had ordered our drinks to come with our main meal…our meal came but our drinks never did until we had asked the waiter twice. The atmosphere wasn't that great and nor was the food. It had to have been one of the worst “Michelin Star” indian restaurants in London.

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

Zaina A. 10 June 2012

So over-rated restaurant, not a good value for money. Very small portions, i went there for a friend's birthday and was still hungry after the three course meal. Will not go back again..sorry

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  • Benares Chef s Table
  • Benares Berkeley Room
  • Benares
The Chef’s Table

This private-dining experience gives views into the Benares kitchen. Groups of up to 10 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.

The Wine Room
The Wine 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 10 on one long table or two tables of five, it is set to one side of the main bar and has a glass panel looking out on to the main bar area. 

The 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.

The 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 Chef's Table
Capacity: 10
The Wine Room
Capacity: 10
The Berkeley Room
Capacity: 16
The Dover Room
Capacity: 36
Special offers

2 courses & champagne cocktail: £29

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 6 diners. Includes VAT. excludes service.

3 Courses & champagne cocktail: £35

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.

6 course tasting menu, & Atul's book £98

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.

5-course Street Food Menu & Cocktail for 2 £40, In the Bar area only

From: 05 October 2017

To: 31 October 2017

Max: 8

Maximum of 8 diners. Includes VAT, excludes service.