On the former site of the Galvin brothers’ Bistrot de Luxe, Ooty is a south Indian specialist named after a hill-station town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It combines three separate spaces: an 80-cover dining room, a basement bar, and ‘Ooty station’ – an all-day casual dining space and cocktail bar.
Ooty aims to offer a more refined and genteel approach to the cooking of the sub-continent than some of the big-name recent openings on London’s Indian restaurant scene.
The very pretty dining room bears little resemblance to the venue’s former life as an ersatz French bistro – think pastel tones, floral wallpaper and a ‘living’ wall of greenery (which our cheery waiter later admitted is artificial.)
Ooty’s menu of dishes inspired by Indian staples – albeit remixed for small-portioned fine dining – is mostly a winner. The best thing we ate was the kid goat sukka: strips of tender goat shoulder brimming with spice, served on uttapam (a doughy, omelette-like disc of spinach and artichoke) and finished with a fried duck egg quivering with a glossy yolk. Splendid stuff.
Elsewhere, our tiger prawn biryani wasn’t as punchy as we’d hoped, but we were won over by the standout pudding of jaggery pineapple bake – juicy and charred chunks of golden fruit served on a bed of smoked cardamom rice pudding and finished with a scoop of black sesame ice cream; an unconventional, but seriously effective combination.
Some diners may lament Ooty's lack of bold flavours, but we were ultimately charmed by its cosy atmosphere, refined dishes and delightfully sweet staff.