Our visit to Chor Bizarre in Mayfair was by invitation, and we were totally spoilt. Having the opportunity to try several of the dishes on the rather eclectic menu, which covers feasts like the famous Kashmiri Wazwam, South Indian Tiffin, the quintessential Indian street food Chaat, along with other well known Indian dishes. I am going to have to use the word eclectic a lot as that very much sums up Chor Bizarre. The decor is both stylish and eclectic (and some of it is even for sale). The food is equally eclectic covering several Indian regions, we ordered a fairly mixed range of dishes. Sambar, Gazab ka tikka, a lovely mild dish with very moist chicken marinated in cheese and cream that is also served in Chor Bizarre’s New Delhi branch. Dakshni crab cakes, light and as spicy as advertised, Lamb Rogan Josh, Pepper Scallops, Baghara Baingan and Palak Makkai a rather delicious spinach dish.
The restaurant has an extensive wine list which they are happy to match to your food, something I always struggle with in Indian restaurants. For a useful guide on pairing see Charles Metcalfe’s Chor Bizarre Wine and Food matches. We had a nice bottle of Castillo de Clavijo Rioja Crianza, which only really worked with the milder dishes.
I very much wanted to try their Tandoori pineapple dessert, but alas after our feast I had no room, I just managed to fit in some mango sorbet and a nice glass of dessert wine.
Chor Bizarre which translates as Thieves Market has a nice relaxing buzz to it, on our visit it comfortably handled groups, couples and single dinners.
I really like the Mint Leaf, but it can be expensive for what it is (a mid range Modern Indian restaurant). Fortunately Top table regularly offer 50% discounts on the food, covering a subset of the menu. I did notice however on this visit that the size of the menu had shrunk for the toptable deal, which is a shame.
The food is first rate, we were especially impressed by the delicious Chicken Tikka, the sauce was amazing.
The dessert selection is also good, I especially like the way they recommend matching wines or liqueurs.
You will find the Mint Leaf just off Haymarket in Piccadilly, it’s an ideal pre-theatre location.
The entrance is a bit off putting, but once you get in, there is a smart bar and very “Modern Indian” Restaurant. The food is off a high standard and designed for sharing. I would recommend you order maybe 6 or 7 of the smaller dishes to share between 2. This being subject to appetite and wallet!. This approach can get expensive, so I would look out for one of the toptable deals that offer a 50% discount, they come up quite often for the Mint Leaf. Some nice wines too – no discount on them unfortunately.
There is also what I can only describe as a Cat Walk in the main dinning room, so I guess you could “pose” here too. The restaurant has 1 AA Rosette, which it certainly merits.
Bloomsbury, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Holborn, Marylebone, Mayfair, Seven Dials, Soho, St James and Westminster.
That is a pretty large area, so I am going to focus on the centre of the West End or Tourist Central, i.e., places around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. This is mainly because finding a decent restaurant or bar in this area is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.
So here are recommendations, in no particular order.
Thai Square, Trafalgar Square – it’s not the best Thai restaurant in London by any means, but it is part of a reliable chain. (It has recently won an award to say it is the best – so judge for yourself). It is also a good location for larger groups.
Asia de Cuba, St Martins Lane Hotel – Very stylish and expensive venue, food is specifically designed for sharing, so ideal for groups of 4 or more.
The Mint Leaf, Piccadilly – a stylish, Modern Indian Restaurant and Bar. Good Pre Theatre venue.
5th View Bar & Food, Waterstones, Piccadilly – For a book store cafe, this place is great, it does good reasonably priced cocktails and the food is way better that you would expect (limited choice though). Nice selection of cakes – the carrot cake is particularly good.
The Wolseley, Piccadilly – European Style Brasserie, very popular, stunning room – great for people watching if you can get a table.
Atheneaum Hotel, Piccadilly – The restaurant focuses on British style food. The hotel also does a really good “Afternoon Tea” and has a bar that is both cosy and stylish (and expensive!).