Best local Indian Restaurant in Essex 2014
One of the finest Indian restaurants in Essex Caraway Indian Brasserie, in Gants Hill, has won the prestigious Best Local Indian Restaurant Award in the Restaurant Guides
The Hart Brothers
The Hart Brothers, who have made Quo Vadis and Fino into such success stories
1 Percy Street, London W1
Tel: 020 7323 9130
This atmospheric French-Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of the Charlotte Street cafÃ© strip will charm you from the moment you walk into its dimly lit entrance.
Bam-Bou is not unusual in providing an immediate olfactory welcome, though the jasmine incense emanating from an antique vase in the hallway is a fragrance perhaps more commonly associated with the nourishment of the spirit than the stimulation of the taste buds. This association does not seem out of place, however, once you step into the ground or first floor dining area, where the Indo-Chinese wall hangings, predominantly dark wood interior, elegant French colonial allusions and minimalist, ambient music create an evocative and sensory environment.
This keen attention to detail is reflected in the oriental cut of the uniforms worn by the attentive and friendly waiting staff, and in the design of the serving dishes, bowls and utensils, ensuring youâre immersed in the atmosphere in advance of tasting the food.
The menu features an innovative blend of Vietnamese and French culinary traditions. Starters averaging Â£6 range in substance from the refreshing and crunchy asparagus and shitake salad served in a sweet peanut dressing to the deliciously smoky pumpkin and shaved coconut soup. The prawn spring rolls are an understandably popular appetiser and are delicately flavoured and accompanied by a spicy fish sauce.
Generously sized main courses cost up to about Â£14 and include a number of inventive crossover dishes such as grilled chicken brochette with lemongrass and peanuts and honey-roasted duck with pak-choi and water chestnuts. More orthodox Vietnamese cuisine is also on offer with a range of aromatic green and yellow curries - all served with fluffy coconut rice - and an array of dishes infused with the flavours of south-east Asia: lemongrass, sesame, soy, coconut and coriander. The stir-fried ginger noodles with spring onion and shitake are an excellent accompaniment to any main course.
The culinary fusion extends into the dessert menu, which includes the unusual, cigar-shaped chocolate spring rolls with kumquat and the exquisite passion fruit crÃ¨me brulee. With desserts costing approximately Â£5 and the house wine at slightly less than Â£14 a bottle, you can expect to pay about Â£30 per head for a three course meal with wine.
An evening at Bam-Bou should not be rushed; the atmosphere makes for more than just a gastronomic experience. And in case the ambience temporarily escapes you as you eat, you are once again reminded of its existence by the waft of jasmine incense that ushers you out into Percy Street.