Indian Essence

Silver Award

SquareMeal Review of Indian Essence

Silver Award

“Fab food, excellent service” is one reader’s verdict on Indian Essence – the result of a hook-up between Michelin-starred celeb chef Atul Kochhar (of Kanishka and Sindhu fame) and restaurateur Jitindar Singh. This flashy eatery brings a taste of high-end new-wave Indian cuisine to the heart of Kent, and despite an inauspicious roadside setting, the dining room shows its cosmopolitan style with lilac and mauve tones, latticework, flamboyant contemporary artwork and elegantly laid tables. The menu makes few compromises to the suburban location, offering signature plates of chicken tikka ‘pie’ with prune compote alongside the likes of marinated grilled rabbit with cherry chutney, tandoori monkfish with spiced broccolini, an Anglo-Indian ‘railway curry’ or fennel-scented lamb chops with wild rocket salad. Veggies should check out the courgette kofta with korma sauce and the ‘gunpowder’ spice-crusted baby potatoes with broad beans. ‘Traditional favourites are available on request’ says a note on the menu, while desserts such as caramelised carrot cake with turmeric ice cream show Kochhar’s trademark blend of Asian and European influences.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cool, Fine dining, Fun, Romantic
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating
Special Features
Vegan options, Vegetarian options
Perfect for
Birthdays, Celebrations, Dates, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


In the heart of Petts Wood, Kent, you'll find Indian Essence, a fine dining Indian cuisine restaurant from twice awarded Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar. The restaurant's award-winning concept is based on highlighting traditional flavours from across India but in Kochhar's signature, contemporary style. 

Ideal for a special occasion, the restaurant's cream colour palette gives off a sophisticated vibe and smart tables are topped with white tablecloths, while large artworks adorn the walls. Indian Essence is known for its tasting menus (which is another reason to choose this restaurant for a celebration meal), and has options for pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan diners. 

The tasting menus span seven courses, starting with the likes of ratte and sweet potato chaat served with a 'splash of chutneys', followed by tandoori Cornish lobster tail with lobster malai curry and dakshin chicken with southern spiced chargrilled chicken supreme, Mangalorean sauce, cauliflower kempu bezule and lemon rice. 

If tasting menus aren't your thing, there are plenty of others to choose from including the set weekend lunch menu which gets you a starter, main, side and dessert. Highlights include the spiced prawns pepper fry with garlic chilli chutney, and lamb sukka with onions, crushed peppers and curry leaves.

No party is, of course, complete without good drinks and so whether you're dining in a small group or a large one, check out the expertly curated cocktail menu which boasts a long list of concoctions. We like the sound of the Spiced Kir Royale which offers an Indian-inspired take on the original with Chambord, Crème de Cassis, chilli chutney and champagne.


Are there vegan options?


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Meet the team
Indian Essence

Atul Kochhar


Renowned chef Atul Kochhar has built a name for himself with over 25 years working on the UK culinary scene. He moved from India in the 90s and has since built up a collection of seven UK based restaurants where he shares his love of traditional cuisine made with local British ingredients. Over the years Atul's cooking has won two Michelin stars and he now boasts a number of award winning restaurants in his repertoire, one of which is Indian Essence. This restaurant, located in Kent, continues the chef's speciality of cooking classic Indian dishes plated in new and innovative ways.


176-178 Petts Wood Road, Petts Wood, Kent, BR5 1LG

01689 838700 01689 838700


Opening Times

All day
Mon 12:00-22:00
Tue 12:00-22:00
Wed 12:00-22:00
Thu 12:00-22:00
Fri 12:00-22:00
Sat 12:00-22:30
Sun 12:30-21:30


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10 Reviews 

Christopher D

20 October 2023   - Verified Diner
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 4

Michael D

05 November 2021  
Food & Drink 3
Service 0.5
Atmosphere 2
Value 2
Diwali Failure

Booked for 4 in November; delays in seating due to takeaway queues and heavy booking for Diwali Special Menu. Service very poor; apparently the kitchen lost our order and then did not prioritise us. Took some three hours overall with huge gaps in service. Food good - when it came-  but very noisy restaurant and excessive music led to poor ambiance. Apologies but no offers of bill discount for failed evening. Too many customers and too little management on the night. Indian Essence quality remains highly variable.  M D


08 May 2021  
Food & Drink 3
Service 3.5
Atmosphere 1
Value 1
Very poor birthday celebration

Having got to Indian Essence on Last Thursday, was astonished to find our table was outside on the pavement in the pouring rain!!!! You provided umbrellas but was raining so hard water was running off the table onto our trousers. When the birthday boy and his wife arrived they were astounded!!! They had rung to confirm the night before and there was no mention of the cover being broken over the tables on the Monday previous. To my knowledge you can order these on Amazon and they are delivered the next day. This was THREE DAYS after. Our friends have patronised this restaurant many times. For a Michelin star restaurant this is appalling. We were not really apologised to or offered a complimentary drink while the rain was hurtling down. We persevered, the food was very good, but this does not excuse the lack of covering. Very poor show!!! I am sure M Kutcher would be most displeased to hear of this and will be sending a report to him. Have been to places locally and they have totally understood the current situation and although cold provided adequate covering for diners. We travelled 1 1/2 hours to get to this lunch!!!!

Alberto C

29 March 2019  
By Atul Kotchar, best affordable indian food.

Sandra P

21 March 2018  
Fantastic food, with a focus on locally sourced (and often foraged) produce. Beautifully attentive but unfussy service. Take special dietary requirements in their stride. Relaxed atmosphere yet a feeling of specialness.

Andrew F

21 March 2018  
The young passionate team have created something quite incredible hidden away in the heart of Brighton's North Laine. All 25 and under, they bring an ever-evolving tasting experience that showcases Sussex on a plate. The only restaurant in Brighton to offer a full dining experience that reflects the bounty of the region, from apples grown in Isaac's mums garden and Wild Garlic foraged locally to their all English wine list that is mostly made up of Sussex wines too. The restaurant is intimate with a lovely scandi style decor and the tasting menu is the best value in the city, with every single ingredient the best quality they can find and as locally as possible. The table by the pass was a fun spot on my last visit as you get to have a bit of a laugh with the chefs and see them in action. Alex is brilliant on the wine front and looks after you well!

Hayley C

15 June 2017  
Best Indian Restaurant, excellent food and service.

Stuart T

04 May 2017  
Great tasting Indian fusion food, special occasion treat due to the cost.

Siva P

27 January 2014  
Food & Drink 3.5
Service 3
Atmosphere 2.5
Value 2.5
Went for dinner with my wife at the weekend. Food was wonder, but service a litle haphazard – clearly everyone is trying quite hard, but there seemed little communication between the staff (three different people talked to us about our table before we were seated and then the pre-dinner drinks orders came some 10 minutes apart). That is a minor quibble on what was a great meal – the food is inventive, with finely nuanced flavours. The venue itself is not grand, but perfectly comfortable.

Two T

18 April 2013  
Food & Drink 4
Service 4
Atmosphere 4
Value 4
Beauty is skin deep
Had to try it due to the celebrity status of the owner (and fair doos to Mr K, he actually chef's there at weekends, so book in advance as he draws a crowd). The venue is cleverly located in an area of Greater rather than Central London, aiming to attract some of the cash from surrounding areas such as Chiselhurst, Bromley etc..a cunning move and one successfully delivered by nearby Chapter One. The restaurant itself suffers from a distinct lack of class from the outside and a rather unusual bar area that feels more like a drafty conservatory looking out onto a bus stop than a top restaurant bar. Yet, once successfully passing these hazards and entering the main area, the surroundings are contemporary and comfortable…although it can get rammed during weekends and thu nights particularly. Service levels vary but are never bad (based on 3 visits). But now to the reason I go there…the grub. Sensational..not much more to add. Layers of flavours, delicate spicing, intriguing menu. Example dishes include lamb neck slow cooked masala, John dorry and, my favourite, chicken curry. It's more Benares than local curry joint after the pub..not quite up there with big hitters like Cinnamon Club (for reference my favourite place of all) but same league in quality terms. If it was in a different building I could see it getting well acclaimed. Would recommend for food experience. Look to wear a £100 bill for 2 with (1) bottle of red. Tasting menu is £38..also good.
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