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“Fab food, excellent service” is one reader’s verdict on Indian Essence – the result of a hook-up between Michelin-starred celeb chef AtulKochhar (of Benares 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.
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