After years of restraint dominating culinary trends, gluttony has fought back, materialising in bottomless brunches. Being a person who lives their life in excess, I’m all for this. But is there really any more need for more smashed avocado on toast? How about we ‘av-a-go at something else? Cue The Mint Leaf Restaurant, Piccadilly’s ultra-chic celeb spot serving bottomless drinks with a 5-course brunch of their contemporary Indian food.
This underground spot is cool and collected – think low-level lighting and dark interiors, an intimate setting away from the chaos of Haymarket above.
Firstly noted was the range of drinks available in their brunch – red/white wine, Cobra beer, bloody Marys, bellinis and prosecco, ensuring it’s not lack of variety that keeps you sober. To adhere to at least one Sunday tradition I began with a bloody Mary, a nice spicy kick start before the feasting began.
Indian cuisine is always good for an appetiser, and the Mint Leaf Restaurant is no exception. Move aside pathetic poppadum and welcome the wheat crisp with puffed rice, tamarind and a spiced potato cake. Flavours you expect but reimagined to make a tantalising beginning.
By this point I have moved on to a bellini. It’s worth ordering just to appreciate its ethereal appeal as prosecco bubbles dance above the cloud-like peach purée at the bottom of the glass.
On to the second course, a personal favourite, paneer. Mint Leaf Restaurant enlivened the paneer with crushed pepper and chilli, which the cheese uptakes beautifully. Accompanying this was tandoori broccoli – itself deep fried in cheese, and it made me wonder why paneer is always coupled with saag, when a harder vegetable gives an appreciated bite to its contrasting softness?
Mint Leaf Restaurant showcases a carnivore’s delight for the third course – the herb-packed lamb seekh kebab, deliciously tender chicken breast, and spicy salmon fillet. They have carefully selected flavours such as kasundi mustard or Kasmiri chilli balanced with lentil chat to enhance rather than overpower the meat.
And for the main event, the curries, I opted for the chicken thigh curry, and my friend the Kerala-style fish curry. These didn’t venture too far from the rich, creamy delights every one associates with a good Indian dish. The twist here lay in the dal makani, an earthy-tasting extra that added some appreciated gusto to our fill.
To finish things off was a trio of desserts. This was my first time trying the Indian sweet, Gulab Jamun, which is best described as a similar vibe to a hot doughnut, but superior as the moistness runs all the way through the warm, doughy delight. The rich star anise and dark chocolate mousse was a decadent finale whilst the mango and passion fruit cheesecake made a zingy alternative to ensure every sweet tooth is covered.
The bottomless eating will reign supreme for some time yet, but now eggs have been done to excess, it’s time for to brunch out for some Indian cuisine.
Mint Leaf Restaurant
4 Suffolk Place, Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4HX