"Don't judge a book by its cover/ restaurant by its décor..."Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
I presume that given it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, the same goes for judging a restaurant by its décor? Given that I do the former constantly, I have no shame in saying that the dining room of Hankies at The Montcalm gave me all the interiors feels; the blue and white china, gold cutlery, blue cut glass and delicate napkin rings - sourced from Indian markets and antique stores by Hankies founder Anirudh Arora - lend an air of sophistication you won’t find in Hankies’ Shaftesbury Avenue café.
Their outpost at The Montcalm is no ordinary hotel restaurant, offering an upscale take on authentic Indian street food but minus the wince-inducing price tag. Named after the classic roti, hand spun until slender enough to read through before being folded into 'hankies', it's an irresistible slice of Indian culinary life and amazingly good value for money given its luxury feel and exclusive postcode.
With such a wide ranging menu it’s easy to let your eyes be bigger than your belly and order one of everything, especially with the generous portion sizes. Start with the gol guppa, crispy little wheat puffs that you fill with a tangy, sweet chutney water, satisfying little bites with a decent kick to them. The spinach roomali was delicious, filled with creamy spiced feta and roasted tomato, while the crispy gold cod arrived in the form of a grown up fish finger, coated in perfectly crisp breadcrumbs and with a sour mango dip. A sweet potato bomb, however, won the award for favourite starter. Accompanied with sprouts, chickpeas, jaggery and chilli jam, it was a taste sensation.
For mains there’s a wealth to choose from, incorporating both grilled dishes and pots of curry as well as plenty of vegetarian-friendly options. I went for the classic Delihi style butter chicken, a comforting mountain of meat in a rich creamy tomato sauce, with a side of rice and an indulgent truffle naan, as well as a plate of sprouting broccoli, served somewhat deliciously, charcoal grilled with cream cheese, thyme and chilli. It was so good I’ve since tried recreating it at home. The meal did take a slight turn for the worse when a miscalculated mouthful resulted in chowing down on what I thought was a piece of the aforementioned broccoli, only to discover seconds later it was in fact an entire green chilli. Cue much flapping and ice administration on my part, and the restaurant manager promptly delivery a bowl of yoghurt to soothe my burning tongue. Needless to say I paid slightly more attention after that. Luckily no lasting damage was done and I was still able to taste the rest of my meal, thankfully.
After such a feast the lightest dessert option - pineapple carpaccio - was unfortunately off the menu, so we settled instead for a trio of homemade sorbets. While the passion fruit and red guava & chaat were both refreshingly tropical, the strawberry & cumin was something of a letdown, the concentration of the latter being altogether too much to create an enjoyable flavour.
Despite chilli-gate and the sorbet being below par, the food at Hankies was exceptional. With a vibrant menu of dishes that manage to be creative, yet classic and a beautiful setting that won’t break the bank, it’s sure to become a favourite haunt.
Laurel reviewed Hankies at The Montcalm on Tue 24 Apr 2018