Heritage (Indian, Fine-Dining) – Dulwich, LondonHALAL STATUS Halal food menu (exc. game: duck & venison; prepped & cooked separately) • Alcohol served
The single most important reason we’ve been looking forward to visiting south east London’s Heritage, more so than any other that’s opened up this year, is the man behind this fine-dining establishment: Chef Dayashankar Sharma.
He was the maestro behind the flawless menu, we had the pleasure of reviewing in 2017, which culminated not only in north east London’s Grand Trunk Road becoming only the third restaurant at the time to achieve the perfect rating of 5/5, but also going on to win #FtLionAwards 2017 Restaurant of the Year.
Fast forward to 2021, and the circumstances couldn’t be more starkly different. Where before, Chef Sharma was in partnership in helping make GTR a success, this time he’s going at it alone as Chef Patron of a restaurant during the worst crisis this country’s hospitality sector is facing in living memory.
With all that wealth of experience behind him though, Chef Sharma strikes us as a man who’s phlegmatic, quietly confident in his abilities, and not averse to facing challenges.
After all, this decision of flying solo isn’t any less bold and ambitious than the one he took back in 2016 when deciding to leave Mayfair’s Michelin-starred restaurant Tamarind to launch GTR in a part of London as unassuming as South Woodford.
And located in the residential area of Rosendale Road in Dulwich, Heritage isn’t situated in any less a modest locale than its predecessor, with an interior that’s smart enough without being anything spectacular.
With a canopied alfresco dining area available for 12, there’s an additional 44-covers indoors, with a small alcohol bar located at the far end of the restaurant.
Their food menu is predominantly Halal, with the non-Halal game meat of venison and duck prepped and cooked separately with dedicated utensils.
The only question that remains to be answered is whether Chef Dayashankar Sharma can replicate the brilliance he displayed all those years ago for Heritage.
If you’re after a soothingly cold and watery, light coconut lassi, with the floral taste of the saffron running in the background, this is the one. Essentially a lassi pina colada!
But if you’re looking for something more varied, then it ought to be the Elderflower & Cucumber Spritz, whose initial deep sugary hit grabs the attention before mellowing out into a more refreshingly sour drink, with a pleasantly sharp bitter aftertaste.
While the distinct flavour of the fruit is certainly there in the Guava Soda, the addition of the mint only ever makes this an ordinarily acceptable one.
You’re very unlikely to have anything like this attractively presented Potato and Quinoa Cake at your local curry house.
What an absolutely extraordinary invention this is, with the Quinoa dexterously shaped into delicate balls before being stuffed with a stringy cheese, which really did impart some smokiness, to go with the chilli heat, the mint sauce, the moments of sweetness, as well as the occasional ginger freshness. A delightful starter that’s likely to be shortlisted for our #FtLionAwards at the end of the year.RECOMMENDED
Putting aside whether this is Heritage’s desi-take on cod and peas, this Goan Stuffed Fish was another brilliantly conceived plate in its own right.
Coated in a lightly crispy semolina casing was a portion of Tilapia whose lean and moist flesh offered a delightfully aromatic taste – reminiscent of cod in fact – which combined beautifully with a mildly tart dollop of sauce.
But what really elevated this dish was that coriander pesto base. Not only did it offer some pleasant heat, but being roughly chopped, also offered some crunchy textural contrast while providing that vibrant freshness to each mouthful.RECOMMENDED
The driving force behind this cleverly constructed and deceptively intricate Jodhpuri Tawa Chicken was that potato mash, whose cumin-infused fragrance married well with the red dollop of sweet chilli atop thin segments of succulent chicken to make it three out of three for Heritage’s Small Plates.
In keeping with the restaurant’s vision of serving “nostalgic authentic dishes passed down through the generations”, albeit “reimagined into modern Indian dining”, Heritage has gone the extra mile by installing an entirely traditional charcoal clay tandoor in order to deliver on those authentic flavours.
The result was an exquisite degree of charring and depth of smokiness that simply cannot be achieved through the use of the ubiquitous gas-powered tandoors typically found at most curry houses nowadays.
And this unique Shatkora Jhinga was a prime example, with plump and juicy king prawns executed so impeccably, that they managed to retain just that right level of chewiness of perfectly cooked crustaceans.
You then have a subtly sweet and peppery marination, that’s elevated by the smoky richness courtesy of said magic tandoor, that sets this seafood dish apart from so many others we’ve had in the past.
It doesn’t end there though, for when you give these little babies a dip in that contrastively green mint and coriander sauce, you then begin to wonder if this is the best chargrilled prawns you’ve ever had. Outrageously good!RECOMMENDED
While those were uniquely coated in an oil-based marination, these were covered in a yoghurt-based one, with enough heat, smoky goodness, a hint of sweetness, and the added quality of texture, to make these an addictive eat.
As for the French-trimmed, double-bone chops themselves, then these turned out ultra soft and tender, with a sexy pink interior.
It was evident back when we reviewed GTR, that this Chef had an extraordinary ability at combining spices with such precision as to tantalise and perplex the tastebuds.
And he exemplified those very same qualities with these main dishes too, starting with this Nariyal wala Jhinga. Hence, this skill of tempering the heat such that it lingers pleasingly on the palate, while allowing the gentle mustard aroma in a relatively creamy sauce which had an edge of sourness to it, to play its part.
We also ordered a portion of fragrant Kesar wala Pulao Rice which we thoroughly enjoyed with this tender prawn dish.RECOMMENDED
While this Ghost Nalli wasn’t quite as memorable as that, only because of phenomenally good that was (still the forerunner for lamb shanks we’d contend), it was, nonetheless, an especially good one, with a quality piece of meaty-cum-fatty lamb-on-the-bone which flaked away with minimal effort.
But it was that creamy textured sauce, made rich and sweet, no doubt, by all the brown onions making up its base, that made this bowl sing the high notes.
And again, it was the careful combination of the masala that coated the palate to titillate the tastebuds, and that heat ambling in the background, that we’ll be admiring for some time to come.RECOMMENDED
Although this wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing dish of the evening, what with the aubergines entirely coated under a blood orange encrusting, there was no denying both the bold flavours and surprising texture in this plate of Baingan Kolhapuri.
For one, the mildly spicy masala mixture on top had a smoky-earthiness to it which tailed off to a subtle bitter finish, whilst offering enough heat to make things interesting. What’s more, there were little chewy bits of roasted something that gave the entire combination some much needed texture. And while that may all sound somewhat peculiar, we all came away thoroughly appreciating its peculiarity in a challengingly good way.
This Paneer aur Mirch Ka Salan was a pickle-oriented affair – pickle as in achar – with that bright yellow curry sauce infused with the sour-chilli so distinct of a zesty achar.
With segments of pickled pepper, used for both colour and an additional hit of flavour, topping a trio of soft slices of grilled paneer, this dish was thoroughly enjoyed by two Lions, with the third fastidiously considering it a good dish, albeit somewhat uniform in taste and texture.
Everything that defines a perfect Dal Makhani was present in Heritage’s expertly executed version here.
Those spices and that heat combined to drive this silky smooth and deeply rich side dish, which simply wasn’t enough to satiate our appetite for it. Arguably the best Dal Makhani we’ve ever had!
And how good was this Tempered Raita? Made rich by the infusion of the tempered spices, this thick and creamy yoghurt, with an edge of sweetness to it, is a must have with any of the curries.
Not only did each one boast a gorgeously charred bottom, which leant that smoky touch, but all three were uber crispy just as they ought to be.
Running through the list, then whilst the garlic came through strong and true, it was the heady flavour of the truffle, on what was a deliciously well buttered Sundried Tomato & Truffle Naan, which almost stole the show. We say almost, because the number of layers in the Paratha were just a sight to behold. As one Lion described it: “Those layers go on forever!”
An inhouse Gulab Jamun Cheesecake, and a first for us, which we couldn’t get enough of. Aside from the decadent balls of gulab jaman, which were soft and utterly saturated with that familiar sweet nectar, it was the captivating floral notes of a smooth and creamy, rose-flavoured cheese topping which came through in glorious waves. Everything else on the plate, while offering what it did, just faded away into insignificance.
A Brulee that delivered on the mandatory glass top, and whose custard layer beneath was delicately sweet thanks to the flavour of honey.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
Is Dayashankar Sharma one of London's finest Indian chefs?We've enjoyed Indian food at some exceptionally good restaurants over the years. And while some chefs may have shown greater technical ability than Chef Sharma, and others still superior knowledge of specific cooking styles and methods, none have managed to combine both to the standard required, while maintaining that high level of execution for a given menu throughout the duration of a review, to achieve FtLion's coveted perfect rating.
Anyone who knows of our reviews, knows how exacting our standards are, how meticulously detailed our evaluation can be, and how precise our rating system is. With that said, while there have been a few renowned Indian chefs - boasting plenty of awards, including the Michelin star - who would have been rated 5/5 if not for that one fatal dish, Chef Dayashankar Sharma hasn't just done it once, but twice over.
Already the word is getting out there about Heritage Dulwich, with the restaurant only very recently having received a Harden's Certificate of Achievement. We believe it's only a matter of time before others come to learn of what we know.
If you're living within 2.5 miles of the place, then you too can experience the Chef's food in the comfort of your home through "Heritage Home Dining", with delivery currently available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.
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