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
17 Sloane Street, London SW1
Tel: 0207 201 6330
The Millennium Hotel holds a dear memory for me. It was here (or at the Chelsea Holiday Inn as it was then called) that I spotted my first celebrity, Brian Ferry, languidly sipping cocktails at the bar, complete with shoulder pads and swept back hair. My expectations were therefore understandably high as I entered the Hotelâs Japanese restaurant MJU.
As turns out, MJU has all but overshadowed my memory. So if youâre reading this Brian, sorry - but the food here is exquisite so itâs time you came back.
A first plaudit goes to the restaurantâs excellent wine list. Our learned sommelier recommended the Fleur de Lotus, a fruity, flowery wine, bottled exclusively for the restaurant. If you chose the âdÃ©gustationâ menu as we did (Â£40), you can also sample a different, specially selected wine with each course for Â£20 extra (choose between six or nine courses).
The cuisine at MJU is about unusual and delicate flavour combinations with an accent on immaculate presentation. Prices for a la carte and menus are very reasonable for such quality and at lunchtime you can have two courses with wine for Â£19.95 per head.
We began our gastronomic feast with oysters, which were delectably sweet thanks to a tangy ginger and mirin dressing. This was followed by a sushi trio, comprising langoustine, a tartare of tuna, and barbecued eel - the latter surprisingly the best.
The foie gras with marinated figs, spinach and balsamic vinegar, which sounded mouth watering even on paper, melted on the palate with just enough sweetness to surprise again and again with each mouthful. By this time, my friend and I had expected to feel too full to appreciate any more, but the crusted rack of lamb, served with peas, artichoke and smoked bacon, offered a well-timed taste of tradition against the previous sweet/sour courses.
A sorbet prepared us for our finale, a white chocolate and lavender mousse, which unfortunately let down what would have been a perfect meal. More of a missile than a mousse, the unthawed chocolate cone nearly shot off my plate as I dug in.
Setting-wise it is hard to escape the fact that this is a 70âs hotel. The decor is suitably slick and oriental (seductive even), but the nature of the architecture means that the space remains boxy; functional rather than fancy. But please donât let this deter you. Head chef Paul Peters has obviously put a lot of thought and love into his menu and you can have a truly memorable meal for just Â£35. Brian, your table awaits, but leave the 80s dinner jacket at home.
Price per head: Â£40
Value for money: ****