Review: The Quilon Restaurant – a Michelin-starred taste of tropical south India

Escaping a rainy Saturday afternoon in London, there was no better way to avoid the drizzle than sample some delectable south west Indian cuisine at Michelin-starred Quilon Restaurant. Having travelled across Goa and Kerala, I was keen to try the menu that had roots in both culinary strongholds. Once we had occupied a cosy corner, already the spiced fruit scents wafting from the kitchen brought back memories of the tropical south, conjuring visions of trees bursting full of bright yellow mangoes, ripening under shade from the citrus and palms.

Quilon

Popadums & chutney

Chef Sriram was keen to send out an array of their best signature dishes, and we weren’t complaining. First came some mini warmed popadums along with the heady and fruitily aromatic chilli, coconut, tomato and lime chutneys.

Quilon

Fisherman’s catch

Rooted in south west coastal influences, seafood is the culinary lynchpin of the menu, as well as plentiful game and fish dishes. The excellent fisherman’s catch instantly wowed us. Subtly peppered shrimp was still plump and spiced with ground pink peppercorns, while the crab cake was bound with ginger and curry leaf, muddled with shredded crab claw meat. Exquisitely cooked, the tender halibut cafreal had a kaffir herby coating mixed with Goan spices, and the delicate chargrilled scallop was caramelised with sweet chilli relish. A flying start: we were suitably impressed.

Quilon

Chicken, quail & beetroot

We were in for a treat with the selection of earthy game, meat and vegetarian options, including the excellent stuffed quail legs, served on the bone, which were herbily bound with mustard and ginger. The beetroot chop was an original and delicious creation, spiced with cumin and accompanied with a tangy mango sauce. Mangalorean chicken with fresh coconut was lightly cooked and also tender from the marinade.

Quilon

Botanical garden & raspberry martini

I couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous creation in the botanical garden, which was laced with gin, grapefruit, sweet basil, pink peppercorns, cucumber and coriander. Equally tempting, the raspberry martini was a delicious blend, with chambord and fresh rose foam.

Quilon

Masala prawn & black cod

Next, the fish course. Flaking apart in caramelised layers, baked black cod was succulent and tender; a real standout dish. The huge and meaty masala prawn marinated with onion tomato, mustard, curry, leaves and coconut masala was a hearty meal in itself.

Quilon

Lamb shank

Braised low and slow, the lamb shank was flavoursome and tenderly pink with just the right amount of chilli and ground spices. Alongside, the basmati rice had the fresh pep of tomato, chilli and mint, accompanied by cooling pomegranate-studded yoghurt. The chef was certainly on point with all spice tempering across all the dishes.

Quilon

Malabar paratha

Malabar paratha was made up of golden doughy layers of bread and ghee, cooked in a skillet – definitely one that will break the diet.

Quilon

Red-hot chilli pepper

Meanwhile, the red-hot chilli pepper creation was its very own shade of spicy, married with a mixture of rum, honey and cranberry. The el diablo of the cocktail selection.

Quilon

Pistachio cake

It seemed like an unachievable feat after the generous feast that came before, but we managed some of the light pistachio cake with pistachio ice cream. Swiped with melted black sesame fondant (a nutty ebony-hued sesame paste), some miniature nuggets of sugared pistachios peppered the plate prettily.

Quilon

Chocolate fondant

Tempered with ginger and mixed spice, the sumptuous chocolate fondant had a rich ganache atop an almond, pistachio and nutty base. A bright red smattering of goji berries completed the exquisite chocolate artistry to a tee.

Quilon

Masala chai tea

To finish, a steaming silver pot of headily spiced masala chai tea made the exit outside to the London drizzle a little easier, after whiling away a few hours in this south west Indian style enclave. We were absolutely wowed with the array of dishes we tried on our visit, and already had our eye on the tempting beer tasting menu at Quilon for our next visit.

The Quilon Restaurant

41 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AF

About Lili Levi

When not gorging her face in London restaurants, Lili can be found prowling street feast markets and cooking up a storm for ‘Come Dine with Me’ parties. A few of her favourite restaurants currently are L’Autre Pied, Typing Room and sketch Lecture Room. She enjoys a good bake-off but the weirdest cake she ever made was a green marshmallow grasshopper pie.

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