Number 10 Lincoln Street is an address with an impressive pedigree for Indian restaurants. Its previous resident was chef Vineet Bhatia’s Michelin-starred Rasoi; now it’s home to this first solo restaurant from chef-patron Rohit Ghai, who trails a comet’s tail of starry Indian establishments behind him, having been head chef at Gymkhana and launched Jamavar and Bombay Bustle.
‘Kutir’ means ‘a small cottage in the middle of nowhere’ in Sanskrit and while the location on a side street near Sloane Square is hardly off the beaten track, it does feel homely, although this being Chelsea, it’s the sort of home that World of Interiors might splash on its cover. Diners must ring a doorbell (or rap the silver elephant door knocker) to gain admittance to a series of dining rooms tricked out with Zoffany wallpaper and fragranced with a rose-scented diffuser.
It’s an entrancing setting for modern Indian cooking that beguiles with spicing that is delicate and distinct. Take the 24-hour lamb rogan josh, involving lamb shoulder slow-cooked for a whole day at 90C and spooned with a glossy brown sauce made from the bones, and served alongside a cigar-shaped samosa of lamb’s offal rolled inside the thinnest, crispest pastry. Nose-to-tail eating doesn’t get any more refined.
Roast duck breast, meanwhile, comes with a cashew sauce as creamy as anything you’d find in French cuisine, although it’s not all so sophisticated: lamb chops are as primal a thrill as you’ll eat anywhere, but it’s typical of Ghai’s thoughtful approach that the palate-refreshing dish of sprouts on the side demands equal attention. Vegetarians, meanwhile, are well served by inspired combinations such as soft paneer offset by the crunch of sweetcorn.
Diners who find much modern Indian cooking too dainty are unlikely to be won over by the likes of a pair of perfectly cooked scallops presented on a silver banana leaf, and still less, perhaps, by the series of ‘Expeditions’ tasting menus with matching wines. And while prices are not outlandish for the quality of cooking or location, Kutir is unlikely to become a home-from-home for all but the most well-heeled of Chelsea locals. But for anyone interested to see how one of London’s foremost chefs is evolving the Indian repertoire with individuality and ambition, 10 Lincoln Street remains an address to remember.
Food image: Stuart Milne
Interior image: Tim Atkins