Ever since its opening, I was mystified by Lokhandwala. I loved the look of their interiors on social media but I had heard mixed reviews of the food – some people loved it and some didn’t. So the best course of action was to try it for ourselves and form our own opinion.
The good news is that the restaurant is bookable; none of that queueing nonsense. However, on the day, we were delayed because of traffic and missed our booking. By the time we had arrived, our table was gone and the place was heaving.
Not the ones to give up so easily, we decided to stick it out until another table became available. This gave us the opportunity to try out the speakeasy upstairs – Vijay’s Lounge – a cozy, low-lit bar, perfect for some pre- or post-dinner tipples.
I knew what I wanted in terms of drinks, having seen the photos a million times on Instagram. It is one of their Signature Cocktails – Like a Bird (Hendrick’s Gin, Blood Orange, Organic White Wine, Orgeat Syrup, Peach Liqueur). The cocktail comes in a bird-shaped glass, delicately placed inside a birdcage. Once you are ready to drink, it is taken out of the cage and put on a tiny cushion to rest and sip. In terms of presentation, it rocks! But it’s not all style over substance, as it was quite delicious and went down smoothly.
Halfway through our cocktails, our table become available. Downstairs in the main restaurant, the interiors are a lot more opulent, with ornate chandeliers and frequent use of mirrors.
We tried an array of dishes from the Tapas section. One of the highlights included some zingy Jumbo Prawns (Kasundi Mustard and Honey Marinated Prawns). The prawns were really tender and juicy, further amplified by the pungent ‘kasundi’ – a type of grainy mustard.
The Seekh Gilafi (Minced Rabbit Meat Cooked in Tandoor) was a revelation. We were expecting a heavy dish, but it was a light and nicely spiced kebab, with some understated but nevertheless lovely flavours. There was a lightness to this dish which made it perfect for summer eating.
But my favourite was the Goan Crab (Baked Crab cooked with Ginger Garlic Chilli with Cheese). Presentation-wise, it was not a looker at all, but dig deep and you will find the creamiest and most delicious crab concoction ever.
The mains were a slightly more conventional affair. My Chicken Biryani had some nice flavours and textures, enlivened with sprinkles of crispy onions and ginger. But overall, the dish was too mild and wimped down for my preference.
Kris’s Slow Cooked Lamb (Lamb cooked with Onion, Tomato and Ginger) stood out from the lamb dishes I have tried in other Indian restaurants. The meat was very tender and had a distinct homely taste to it.
Special mention to staff member Janina who looked after us well.
Overall, we had a pleasant time at Lokhandwala. Whilst we were not blown away by the food, our overall experience was much better than expected. The starters definitely impressed more than the mains. But there were a lot of mixed messages from the menu. What Lokhandwala needs is a couple of really strong, signature dishes (much like its cocktail and interiors) for it to become a truly great destination Indian restaurant.
Location : 93 Charlotte St, Bloomsbury, London W1T 4PY
More information can be found here.