squaremeal.co.uk | 41
Mary has never been a restaurant based on notions of what's
fashionable; instead, its three owners, sisters Camellia and Namita
Panjabi and Namita's husband Ranjit Mathrani, have always had
excellence and originality as their aim. Their pioneering masterstroke
was to focus on the seven main cuisines of India, which in turn
attracted the most ambitious young chefs from the subcontinent to
London, setting a new benchmark for Indian cooking in the capital.
The food remains as high-end as ever, so that venison samosa turns
out to be two cones of wafer-thin pastry �lled with rich minced meat;
Rajasthani lal maas has fork-tender osso buco and boneless lamb
shank wallowing in a richly spiced sauce; and kul� gets reinvented
with salted caramel and cinder toee. Other dishes to have impressed
on our visits include crisp fried prawns, fragrant Afghani chicken tikka
and diverting side orders of thin garlic naan and creamed mustard
leaves tasting like �ery spinach.
For lunch there are salads, small plates and lighter dishes - which
we'd recommend you eat in the bar facing St James's Street. It's as
suitable for snacking on sandwiches at a long, shared table as it is for
taking in an excellent Watermelon Cosmopolitan on a jewel-coloured
sofa in the evening.
The wine list continues to
merit serious attention; the
service from smart, urbane
sta is as polished as it was in
Chelsea; and there are two very
well-appointed private rooms downstairs. With breakfast soon to be
added to the attractions, the all-new Chutney Mary has everything
you could want from a smart Indian restaurant - and feels every bit
as up-to-date as it did in 1990.
KEY TO REVIEWS Prices are based on a two-course dinner (starter and main)
for one, including half a bottle of house wine, coffee, cover charge, service and
vegetables. Square Meal stars are awarded to favourite restaurants based on
the overall experience. Two and three stars are given (more selectively) to places
that truly capture the zeitgeist and bear comparison with the best in the world.
THE LAST WORD After leaving Chelsea and moving east to mark its silver jubilee,
this modern Indian pioneer �ts polished St James's to a masala T This classically inclined list
is made up of reliable names
and familiar styles for plenty
of choice at all price points; though it's
best to ask advice on pairing with the
spicy food before you order. By the glass
and half-bottle options too.
BEST BUY La Flor Malbec 2014, Pulenta
Estate, Mendoza, Argentina, £40.