Wednesday, January 03, 2007


As I hinted at in an earlier post, there was so little time and so much to do in London that I simply gave up on blogging about each place I visited whilst there. Instead, I am going to post about a few of the notable places at which I ate. And as y'all can see, yes, I did take photos! And possibly annoyed my friend during his lunch.

Veeraswamy was founded in 1926. Legend has it the proprietor was the descendant of an English general and a Mughal princess (if I remember it correctly). Today, its interior is posh and colorful, yet very elegant. We went to the Picadilly Circus tube (subway) stop and walked around for a while, just looking at all the sites (well, my one friend, who had off from work that day, had seen it all by now). We hit a long semicircular row of beautiful buildings. Okay, it was just one looooong building occupied by many businesses, like a long rowhouse (here's a Google map image of it).

We went into the lobby and saw this stainless steel wall tile (very neat), then went up an elevator to get to the dining room. And a lovely dining room it is, all covered in lush tones with rainbow light fixtures above. The luxurious feel continued in the seats themselves, with purple pillows festooning the benches that served as much of the seating, and rose petals strewn all over each table.

For lunch, we went for the fixed price meal for £16 (about $32, but that is disturbingly cheap for a nice restaurant such as Veeraswamy). This gave me three courses of things I would never have thought to order by themselves. For starters, we got a concoction the size of a large muffin, but certainly more interesting! Served on a neatly cut banana leaf, this appetizer featured wheat biscuit, yogurt, pomegranate and other good stuff. I actually can't remember it all, and the photo didn't turn out, sadly.

Then came our main course, a chicken tikka in a not-so-spicy coriander sauce. This came with okra in a ginger sauce that my friend said was the first okra he has ever liked (me too, for the most part, as it's so often slimy when I do eat it). I really loved this, despite the small amount of food. Normally, this paltry amount would not be worth 33% of $32 - and, okay, it isn't. But if anything comes close to being worth that amount, it was this. Very yummy and tender, this chicken tikka was more tender than most chicken tikka I have eaten. And yeah, the okra was pretty good, again with a lovely presentation.

Our final course came in the form of a blood orange sherbet. Both of us were thrown for a loop by this one, as this pinkish sherbet was served with rose petals and a raspberry in a martini glass. It didn't taste like an orange, but it was tasty nonetheless. And again, there's that ubiquitous banana leaf. Not for eating, mind you, but decoration.

Altogether, our bill came to about £44. This includes two meals for £16 each and two bottles of water, plus tax and tip. This water, by the way, is made by the Belu company, whose profits all go to water conservation and clean water projects, both in the UK and in other countries. One project involves the digging of wells in Mali. We got served with classy glass bottles, though Belu touts its biodegradable corn bottles. It is very proud of only using local sources of water, instead of imported water from other countries.

I am trying to think of the closest Bawlmer-area match to Veeraswamy. Although I haven't been in yet, my best guess would be the Brass Elephant. Although I have never eaten there (and after this trip, probably won't for a while), the atmosphere certainly is of the same caliber as Veeraswamy. quotes the restaurant's description of itself, the restaurant telling us to step back in time, dine in "an opulent Victorian mansion of hand carved teak, tiffany skylights and lavishly appointed dining rooms."
The menu shows not a drop of Indian cuisine, but for its atmosphere alone it may offer a similar dining experience.