Bagging a table is the first challenge at Mowgli, the lively Indian street-food kitchen that burst on to Bold Street in 2014 and has established itself as one of the city’s best Indian restaurants ever since. Simply furnished with wood, bare brick, rope and birdcage lights, and with a jolly monkey logo, this venue is packed with young professionals, students and fans who rave about its “delicious, innovative food” and “fresh, exciting flavours”.
Light, zingy dishes arrive in gleaming tiffin bowls and ‘boxes’, served as and when they’re ready by personable staff. To start, the ‘angry bird’ sees tingling spiced chicken thighs with tangy slaw, or you might fancy a veggie plate – perhaps ‘tea-steeped’ chickpeas with tomato and spinach sauce or tangy ‘picnic potato curry’ spiked with Bengali five-spice. We also recommend the piquant Agra ginger chicken, the fiery Goan fish curry and the delicately steamed rice with black cardamom and cumin.
To drink, classic cocktails such as Old Fashioneds, Espresso Martinis and Margaritas get spiced up with the likes of chilli, garam masala, cardamom and curry leaves, bottled beers and half a dozen wines (helpfully labelled as ‘good’, ‘better’ and ‘best’), as well as booze-free mixes and lassis for non-drinkers.
Weekend brunch, meanwhile, sees the likes of Indian takes on bacon sandwiches, cheese on toast, porridge and a full English (including a veggie version) alongside dahl with gram crisps and puffed rice, washed down with turmeric Bloody Marys and mango mimosas.
Mowgli is the brainchild of former barrister Nisha Katona, a self-styled ‘curry evangelist’ whose aim was to open a restaurant serving the sort of food that Indians eat at home and on the streets. With over 10 more Mowglis now open around the country – and more in the pipeline – as well as an MBE to her name, she hasn’t monkeyed around.