Manthan new Thalis by Rohit Ghai a bargain in London MayfairHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu • Alcohol served
Although the restaurant has since closed down (rated 3.5/5), it represented the duo’s attempt at moving away from high-end gastronomy, as represented by Rohit’s renowned fine-dining establishment Kutir in Chelsea, and towards casual contemporary dining.
One could say that Manthan in central London’s Mayfair sits comfortably in between Kutir and Koolcha in that, while it exhibits the sense of luxury of the former, it offers a more informal vibe that properly represents the home-style dishes on its menu.
This 42-cover restaurant is elegantly decked-out, with the alcohol bar conveniently located at the back of the premises, and plenty of seating towards the front.
The menu is meant to be “a reflection of chef Rohit Ghai’s life in food”, with Indian dishes inspired “[f]rom the markets of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (where he grew up) to professional kitchens all over the world”.
We, however, were here to try their new range of Thalis, which are available for a maximum of six diners every Tuesday to Friday from 12.30pm until 3.30pm.
With a trio to consider – vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and seafood – what immediately caught our collective attention was the price-point of each Thali.
Bearing in mind that this is Mayfair, and the fact that you get a starter, main, dessert, an assortment of extras, as well as the option of a lassi for an extra £10 (supplements or changes incur a £4 charge), the most expensive of the three is just £22!
Little wonder Manthan recommends diners phoning and booking well ahead in advance to avoid disappointment!
LUNCH THALI MENU
Of the two that we tried, it was the Seafood Thali – comprising of Cafrael Macchi sea bass, Fish Curry stone bass, Saag Paneer, Tadka Dal, Tawa Paratha, rice and raita, and Payasam as a dessert – that ticked all the boxes.
Although we didn’t get to try the Payasam, which is essentially a rice pudding, the two seafood options were exquisitely crafted, with the curry dish being beautifully balanced.
Otherwise, while the taste of the spinach was there to enjoy in the flavourous Saag Paneer, the slightly watery Tadka Dal, with its mellow heat, was perfectly adjudged for a light lunch time meal. Coming with a thin and supple Tawa Paratha, this Thali at just £22 is seriously good value for money.
Truth be told, there wasn’t much in it between this non-vegetarian version and its seafood counterpart. It was only that we found the latter to be just that slightly more refined and visually appealing.
In any case, the smoky goodness emanating from the Chicken Chop helped to enhance its wonderfully robust yoghurt-based marination.
As for the buttery-cum-tomato taste of the Chicken Tikka Masala, then this was offset by the sweet fragrance of the cardamom therein.
Manthan served us a trio of intriguing beverages with the mixologist evidently a talented fella.
Although one Lion considered the Sapta to be the “most authentic of the three”, with its distinct syrupy-sweet and aromatic flavour profile; it was the gentle tanginess of the Sindhu, which ended in a subtle hint of bitterness, that we preferred overall.
Nevertheless, the zesty intensity of the wonderfully balanced Virgin Mango is one you won’t go wrong with.
And while all three lassis were excellent, turning out thick and luscious, if we had to number them in preference, then the first would be the Lychee for its uniqueness, followed by the zesty Mango, and lastly the lightly-flavoured Date.
This large tray of Chicken Butter Milk had plenty of succulent chunks of poultry encased in a peppery-cum-vinegary batter that was deep-fried to a crispy finish.
Topped with fried curry leaves, the accompanying tomato-based sauce, while erring on the thick side, added some subtle spice to this unique starter.
For one, the spicy elements in this colourful dish didn’t quite succeed in countering the sweetness brought by the tamarind sauce.
We also found the thick and chewy texture of the kachori dome’s pastry-casing to detract from the fragrant onion-based filling.
Otherwise, this certainly has the makings of a very good starter.RECOMMENDED
Ghati Masala Prawns indeed, with the tender crustaceans coated in masala dust which, following a good squeeze of the lime, culminated in a delicious munch, with the coconut grating providing that touch of sweetness.RECOMMENDED
We weren’t expecting our Shami Kebabs to be served thusly. An expertly crafted starter, with the kebab itself boasting a beautifully crumbly and delicate texture.
And while the masala-rich sauce, driven by the umaminess of the bone marrow it was made from, served to provide that touch of curry flavour, this also came with a crispy paratha, which we used to enjoy that meaty-flavoured sauce.
A Samosa Chaat which had a similar flavour-profile to its Kachori cousin, with the classic interplay between the sweet and the savoury well accounted for; although the samosa itself was a little chewy in places.
These french-trimmed Lamb Chops were an absolute delight, with a punchy yoghurt-based, masala marination delivering that delicate hit of spiciness, and the superb charring on the outside ensuring that smoky aroma in the background.
As for the lamb, then these thick pieces of meaty goodness were gorgeously pink on the inside and dreamily soft. Delightful!RECOMMENDED
And you simply cannot go wrong with Manthan’s attractively-presented Paneer Mahkani either.
Not only was the vibrantly orange, tomato-based curry sauce rich and creamy, with its hint of piquancy balanced by the sweetness of the cardamom, but the pieces of paneer utterly soft.RECOMMENDED
Three out of three with the mains, with the delicate balance achieved in this extraordinary Osso Buco proving Chef Rohit’s mastery of spices.
The succulent lamb was enveloped in a luxuriously decadent, onion-based curry, which took our collective palates on a journey through spice heaven. An absolute pearler this and possibly the best dish of the review. Highly recommended!
SIDESRECOMMENDED VALUE FOR MONEY
Another stunning dish, albeit the humble Kaali Daal. A sizeable pot (at just £8 too) of creamy goodness, with the mellow spices allowing the distinct flavour of the lentils to come through nicely.
Plenty of layers in this thick and crumbly Sri Lankan Pol Roti to make this worthy of being paired with any of the curry dishes on the menu.
If you like your Tawa Paratha thin, delicately chewy and crumbly, then you won’t go wrong here.
And a solid ending to a memorable experience at Manthan, with their signature Classical Trio a clever twist on the classic South Asian ghulab jaman.
Here we had a meringue pie, with the Indian sweets encased in what was a fairly thick pastry base. Nevertheless, the soft meringue dome, which wasn’t overly sweet, and the tender balls of ghulab jaman therein combined to deliver a satisfying candy-like ending.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED ACCESS
And we can safely say that the wait was certainly worth it, with an outstandingly good, all-round menu; and their newly-introduced, lunch time Thalis being even better. With three to choose from, not only were we left astounded by the sheer quality, but the price too, with a starter, main, dessert and a variety of sides costing no more than £22!
As for the rest of the dishes from their a la carte menu, then let's just say that there's a few with a good chance of being nominated for our end of year awards, they were that good.
All in all, there's really nothing to think about if you're in and around Maddox Street at lunch time. Those Thalis are an absolute steal!
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