Modern Indian restaurant Noir stuns South Woodford in LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food & drinks menu • Shisha served separately
We had the privilege and pleasure of being one of the first to be invited to a new Indian restaurant in north east London that’s headed by a chef with plenty of fine-dining experience.
Noir in South Woodford is an impressive, 150-cover venue on George Lane whose Head Chef, Nikhil Mahale, boasts 20 years’ experience and used to lead the kitchen at renowned Indian bistro Farzi Café in Leicester Square.
Starting out at the ITC luxury hotel chain in India, it wasn’t long before he ventured out to take on roles as diverse as working on a cruise ship, to spending time in Russia to learn Georgian-Ukranian cuisine.
After moving to the UK, Nikhil worked at well-known high street restaurant chains like Giraffe and Wagamama, before working with a number of restaurant’s as a consultant that included Colony and Mumbai-7.
Having also worked with a few Michelin-starred chefs, Nikhil Mahale has designed a fully Halal menu of non-alcoholic drinks, which have been carefully conceived to compliment his modern take on Indian cuisine at Noir.
As the name of the restaurant suggests, dark hues dominate its chic interior to create a relaxed and moody, contemporary setting, which has the look and feel of a fine-dining establishment.
And though there is an entirely separate shisha section, Noir’s dining area, which can cater for upto 90 guests, has a large dry bar situated towards the back.
Of the quartet of elegant-looking beverages presented, the Perky Perfection stood out, with its desiccated coconut rim providing an interesting textural addition to a drink whose sour-sweetness of passionfruit and orange was nicely countered by the surprising touch of heat that came through at the end.
The next best was the Made For Matcha, which turned out to be a smooth and creamy affair, with the familiar earthy-sweetness of the matcha materialising as an aftertaste.
This was followed by the mature-tasting Mango Madness, which was an enhanced version of an iced tea, with its fruity-cum-floral notes. Finally, the weakest of the bunch was the Cheeky Cherry whose subtle cherry flavour was somewhat one-dimenstional and required an extra layer or two (maybe the addition of Seedlip would help).
Perhaps owing to their more sophisticated approach, Noir’s milkshakes are less shakes and more milk. And though we’d be reluctant to classify a lassi as a milkshake, it could technically pass as one. In any case, their mango version, while being relatively thick and well-balanced in terms of its sweetness, wouldn’t qualify as sophisticated. Perhaps the addition of cardamom might to the trick.
Cardamom certainly worked for the Karak Shake which, while definitely a milky and frothy concoction rather than a shake (defined here, of course, as necessarily containing ice cream), turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable, with the subdued taste of the karak chai there or thereabouts.
It should be noted from the outset that, unlike most Indian restaurants who utilise a tandoor oven but opt for the easy approach, Nikhil told us that he refuses to use a tandoor fuelled by the combination of coal and gas.
Instead, he is of the firm opinion that authentic Indian tandoori food cannot be delivered without using a traditional charcoal tandoor.
In our experience, the difference between the two approaches is, indeed, chalk and cheese; as the examples below prove.RECOMMENDED
It took a long time to sink in that these ‘Lobster + Love’ kebabs were some of the most delicious and certainly the most unique we’ve ever had!
They were executed with the precision necessary at finding that optimal balance between the soft and firm; and yet still remaining utterly succulent.
But what elevated these kebabs beyond superlatives was the distinct charring achieved by the traditional charcoal tandoor, which accounted for the incredible smokiness lingering in the background.
If that wasn’t enough, then, in addition to the mixture of cashew nuts and fried curry leaves, the kebabs were topped with translucent globules of zesty lime which, while bursting in the mouth every so often, easily passed for cavier. One of the dishes of this review.
This cleverly-named Chatt Up Line presented the humble chaats in small bronze plates and in three captivatingly different ways.
The most inspired was the Italian-oriented one with a disc of smooth burrata cheese going surprisingly well with the assortment of cherry tomatoes, before being completed with a sprinkling of dry vermicelli and hazelnuts.
As for the potato and kale chaat, then both the crunchy-thin kale pakora and the contrastingly soft potato bhajia were drizzled in a mint sauce.
Finally, the samosa and channa chaat had bite-sized parcels of the former, with the pastry being light and crumbly, and was surrounded by a channa curry that had the heat of the garam masala lingering on the palate.
The plate was finished off with a scattering of pomegranates for a bit of crunch. All in all, a fun and enjoyable dish.
Quite unlike any Prawn Cocktail you’ll ever have. These Chennai Chilli Prawns, while being surrounded by a light batter, managed to retain that delicate bite of perfectly cooked crustaceans.
Served with lettuce leaves, the creamy chilli sauce in which they were covered was a curry based one with a tangy edge. For textural contrast, small sweet potato crisps and coconut flakes were scattered over the top.RECOMMENDED
Again the magic of that traditional tandoor ensured that these large chunks of poultry were as close to melt-in-your-mouth as you’re going to get.
Based as they were in a spicious marinade, the charring was on point, with the smokiness of the barbecue locked into this stunningly delicious chicken tikka. The dollop of yoghurt and the lightly pickled cucumber slithers were no more than an after thought. One of the best we’ve had!RECOMMENDED
To begin with, we just loved the delicate Noir-inspired batter that surrounded the tender cuts of chicken.
As for the fries, then these were enveloped in plenty of gooey-stringy cheese, whose piquancy was offset by the garlic chutney and the crushed bundi, which is fried chick peas.
This deliciously addictive munch is worth the punt for the experience alone, let alone the flavour.RECOMMENDED
When you have a fluffy naan that’s positively saturated in a heady truffle butter, covered in strips of smoked pepper, a generous grating of veggie parmesan, the only way of having this is to roll it up and enjoy it au natural (forget the option of beef). Scrumptious!
The clever use of edible charcoal in this signature Noir Appétit was inspired. Equally impressive was the combination of the mellow piquancy of the cheesy alfredo pasta with the lightly spiced, amber-coloured sauce which contained small segments of baby corn which still retained a good bite.
The lamb steak in this Braised Bandit was chewy enough without being overly so.
However, while the chick pea curry had a good body to it, the slithers of pickled ginger dotted about the plate didn’t quite help in countering the garam masala, which came through a little more strongly than it should have. Perhaps a cooling agent in the form of a yoghurt might have done the trick.RECOMMENDED
This Kickin’ Kerala Prawns was certainly that, kickin’, with the prawns astutely fried so as to offer that much needed textural contrast to the uber creamy coconut sauce and soft vermicelli noodles therein.
An exceptionally good dish which we thoroughly enjoyed, and one which we would recommend to any seafood-lover. Exquisitely balanced!RECOMMENDED
The rich smokiness from this beautifully charred chicken helped to impart, and thus enrich, what was otherwise an extraordinarily delicious fenugreek-based korma sauce.
With just enough heat to allow one the pleasure of enjoying that dreamily tender poultry, the sauce was a dangerously addictive one.
Quirkily presented in a tin, Noir’s version allowed for the mellow tanginess of the tomato to underscore their interpretation of a butter chicken, with the sauce turning out rich and spicy, and having enough heat to keep things interesting.
These astoundingly good French-trimmed lamb chops weren’t just pink and succulent on the inside, but their delicately spiced marination, which was charred to a crispy finish, married wonderfully with the mango chutney.
The addition of the roasted wedge of iceberg lettuce – dressed in a zingy sauce and complimented further by thin slithers of roasted pepper, pomegranates, and walnuts – only ensured that this Sikander Lamb will live long in the memory.RECOMMENDED
If the word ‘rishtey’ here is meant to be translated in Hindu/ Urdu as ‘relationship’, then it didn’t take long for us to build one with this Tandoori Rishtey. Although this can be had as a double portion for £49, the above was a single for £29.
The chateaubriand tandoori steak turned out pink on the inside, resulting in juicy slices of divine beef being elevated to unchartered heights by not just any ol’ peppercorn sauce, but a spiced peppercorn sauce. And while this was paired with the aforementioned moti fries, they were all but forgotten by the time we downed that final segment of meat.
Defined by its punchy flavours, this Bhai’s Brisket appeared to be an attempt at a decontructed version of a traditional biryani, we believe.
What we had here was an aromatic saffron pilau topped with fried shallots. This was nestled beside ridiculously tender slices of slow-cooked beef brisket, which were enveloped in a strong sauce that immediately required the accompanying pot of yoghurt to dampen the strength of the garam masala. Those with a weak tolerance for spices may require two pots worth.
The Biryani Bae, on the other hand, was a far more measured affair in comparison to its brisket ‘Bhai’, or brother. Wrapped and tandoor-cooked in a banana leaf, the first thing that’ll hit you when pulling it apart is the aromatic woft of the steamy saffron rice.
What’s contained within is a mouthwatering biryani whose soothing spices allow for the taste of the juicy chicken to be savoured.
The picture speaks for itself doesn’t it? That traditional tandoor really is something, with this Naan Basket definitely worth enjoying with some of the above curry dishes.
A Golden Ticket indeed, with the edible gold leaf strategically placed over the soft scoop of vanilla ice cream, and surrounded by two types of berries.
Presented atop an ultra-crispy honeycomb ghewar, which itself was covered in a saffron syrup, the result was a crispy-cum-crunchy pastry base, with the berry juice combining with the ice cream to deliver a light ending to a fantastic meal.RECOMMENDED
This Rasmalai To Remember will be remembered for being a cross between a milk cake and a sponge cake; and one we simply couldn’t get enough of.
Made up of layers of rather delicate sponge, this was brought to life with the pouring of the creamy-rich and not-overly-sweet cardamom-infused milk sauce. Just wish there was more of it for us to lap up.
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- DISABLED FACILITIES
And with a chef as talented as Nikhil Mahale manning the helm, Noir is in more than capable hands. With modern Indian cuisine served in such suave and sophisticated surroundings, and dishes that we had never encountered before but will be returning for in a hurry, this establishment has all the hallmarks of a top-notch destination.
What's more, Noir already has plans in place of franchising farther afield with, we've been told, potential sites in Blackburn, Coventry, and west London's Hatch End. Be sure to stay tuned for more information on that. For the moment, go and enjoy a stonking new restaurant that has all bases covered.
Be the first to leave a review.