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8 Mount Street
“Magnificent cooking in elegant old-colonial surroundings” is the promise at Jamavar – a Mayfair revelation that reminds readers just how good Indian cuisine can be in the right hands. The regionally inspired food is a perfect fit for the wood-panelled dining room’s “calm and refined” atmosphere. Top calls are many and varied: peppery soft-shell crab perked up with damson chutney; delicate scallops on a mound of puffed rice; char-grilled and pulled ‘Old Delhi’ butter chicken; stone bass tikka with green cardamom and avocado relish – in fact there isn’t a dud to be seen among the line-up of “memorable” dishes.
Such “high-calibre” food doesn’t come cheap and the sharing plates aren’t exactly generous, but set lunches and early-bird dinners are currently a Mayfair bargain. Smart and comfortable without seeming obtrusive, Jamavar is a destination that can confidently allow the food to do the talking. What was a downstairs bar is now a second dining room – much needed, judging by the packed house when we visited.
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8 Mount Street
Bond Street Tube Station 445m
Green Park Tube Station 629m
Medici Gallery 339m
Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm 5.30-10.30pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 5
Visit-one to Jamavar in March for a work lunch filled me with the belief that this could be among the best Indian restaurants in London. A second visit, on a recent Saturday night sampling the full tasting menu reinforced the notion that Jamavar has a lot of potential; but, our experience was let down by the service. It wasn’t actively bad, more characterised by utter indifference. Fine dining should be about theatre and experience; one expects chefs to be pushing the boundaries both in terms of preparation and presentation. Similarly, there is an expectation that those bringing the dishes will share in the endeavour, highlighting the restaurant’s creations with pride and enthusiasm. Likewise, for any well-trained sommelier, half the fun of the job is composing an interesting and innovative wine list to pair with such dishes. Subsequently explaining the rationale for why each wine was chosen to go with a given dish only enhances the dining experience. Sadly, no-one at Jamavar seems to have explained these notions to the waiters. Each dish in our seven-course menu was almost dumped on the table with little more than an uttering such as ‘the chicken’ or ‘the aubergine.’ Furthermore, at no time was there any synchronisation between the food and the wine – we would always be left waiting for one when the other had already arrived. The wines, when they did come were, again, virtually plonked on the table, generally with an absolute absence of ceremony. This was a real pity, since what we ate and drank was superlative (the chef and the sommelier did their jobs properly), at least as good as Trishna, which probably remains the benchmark for first-rate Indian innovation in London. Omnivores and vegetarians can both delight in the offerings here. On my seven-course menu, there was only one slightly questionable dish (the lamb chops), with everything else – from soft shell crab at the beginning through to chilli chocolate fondant at the end receiving high praise. The wine selection too was great, with the French Burgundy and the 10-year Tawny Port being the highlights. At £115 including paired wines, the price is also competitive against other comparable offerings. Herein, I think, lies the problem: the food and drink are excellent, they are priced reasonably, and the restaurant is located in central Mayfair close to many of London’s top hotels. In other words, Jamavar does not have to worry about getting customers in through the door (indeed, the place was packed when we visited), and so it appears to have taken the somewhat disappointing view that it doesn’t need to put any excess of effort into the service. However, without some improvement, it will be hard to see the place getting a Michelin star; and, in the meantime, it won’t be an immediate priority for us to return.
We started our lunch at Jamavar with a glass of champagne for me and a V&T for the hubby while we read the menu at our table (there is no bar), as we had a rare, midweek day off work, so we decided that a long lunch was the order of the day and I and I have been singing its’ praises ever since (the food that is, not the day off work). Their lunch menu is terrific value for money, particularly given the Mayfair address, 2 courses for £20, 3 courses for £25 and 4 courses for £30. We ended up having 2 courses each which was the perfect amount of food for us, but I wish I could have squeezed in more. We shared the Vegetable Samosa with yoghurt (2 pieces), Lamb Sheekh Kebab (one piece but substantial) and then the Old Delhi Butter Chicken and a dry beef curry wrapped in a dosa. Included with the main courses are rice, bread, potato aloo and dhal. All the dishes were perfectly spicy, just enough heat so that your lips tingle for 20 minutes after you finish. We drank a young and dry but very quaffable bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Bangalore. The restaurant is decorated in old colonial style, light and airy and tables nicely spaced, the waiting staff informative and friendly without being intrusive and the total bill came in at just under £100. I can’t wait to go back and taste the sample of the menu.
Food + drink: 4
After my somewhat disappointing recent visit to Vineet Bhatia, it was a decided relief to eat at Jamavar. It reminded me once again just how good Indian cooking can be, when in the right hands. The pedigree of head chef Rohit Ghai says it all – having previously worked at Gymkhana, Trishna and Benares, he clearly knows what he is doing. Moreover, Jamavar is being bankrolled by the Leela Group, owner of many luxury destinations in India, and so has strong support. Befitting to its Mayfair location, just minutes from the Connaught Hotel, Jamavar could best be described as the next Gymkhana, but without the crowds. The dining room is beautiful: think dark wood panelling, traditional Indian-style paintings and mirrors. The atmosphere is calm and refined. The food is excellent, and good value too. In particular, the lunch/ early evening set menu, priced at £20 for two courses or £25 for three (we opted for the latter) is a stand-out bargain. There are also a la carte options as well as a fully-fledged tasting 7-course tasting menu. The culinary emphasis is on dishes from the north of India, with dry spices, sambals and chutneys featuring extensively. Our group of three went for a variety of options across the set menu and we were not disappointed with a single one. Jamavar excelled perhaps most notably with its fish dishes. The stone bass tikka and Macher Jhol (Bengali fish with chilli, aubergine and potato) were among the most exciting enjoyed recently, the flavours lingering long after the meal was over. Portion sizes are perfect (three small courses was just right at lunch) and there was no shortage of rice and naan on hand too. We shared a carafe of J.Ehmoser’s Riesling, and it was pleasing to see some 14 wines listed in this format on the menu. More expensive options are also available. Reflecting again on my lunch two days’ after the visit, it is hard to identify any obvious faults. A definite success.
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