Quilon (Indian Fine Dining) – Westminster, LondonHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu (exc. game that’s prepped & cooked separately) • Alcohol served
Quilon is an Indian fine dining establishment whose distinguished history saw it achieve its first accolade a couple of years after it opened with the Best Indian restaurant Good Curry Guide Award in 2001.
After a number of awards and nominations, the talent and hard work of head chef Sriram Aylur finally saw him awarded a coveted Michelin star in 2008, which Quilon has successfully retained ever since.
There’s no doubt that this 92-cover venue bears all the hallmarks of sophistication, with a monochromatic colour scheme and a carefully lit interior that helps complement the restuarant’s dark brown wooden decor.
Described as “a restaurant within a Michelin-starred restaurant, with its own entrance, bar, dining room and private kitchen”, there’s also a plush private room located downstairs which allows guests the opportunity of sharing an intimate culinary experience with their own personal chef.
Inspired by the cuisine of India’s south west coastal region, Quilon’s menu centres around seafood, and the dishes of Goa and Kerala in particular.
And while there’s also plenty of meat and vegetable options to choose from, the only section on the menu not Halal, and thus prepped and cooked separately, is the game meat.
Located around the corner from St. James’ Park tube station, Quilon is also not too far from Victoria Station.
Of course, given that the restaurant is located in Westminster, those travelling by car might want to remember that Congestion Charge applies from Monday to Friday between 7am and 6.30pm.
There’s been a number of high end restaurants that end up, quite surprisingly, neglecting their non-alcoholic drinks menu. Not at Quilon! Here, not only do they serve you complementary shots of a potently spicy tomato-based drink that’ll have you primed and ready in no time, but well conceived and precisely executed mocktails.
The best was undoubtedly the Coast Guard, which was unlike anything we’ve ever had before! This was essentially an ice slushy which, though comprising of only two elements, namely watermelon and coconut, had us fooled into thinking there was rose water therein given its mellow sweetness. With a lovely frothy top, this light and fragrant beverage has to be in contention for our end of year awards.
The Apple Mojitoa was an extremely good concoction, with the heat of the ginger helping to offset the sourness of the mint, before lingering pleasantly thereafter.
As for the Zingy, then this attractive glass was a beautifully balanced fruity affair in which the lemonade and orange only just managed to temper the sweetness of the passionfruit.
Light, crunchy papadums accompanied by a trio of tantalisingly distinct sauces that enthralled one after the other.
Take the Tamarind Ginger, for instance, in which the heat was so ferocious that even the oil will have your taste buds running for cover.
On the other end of the specturm was the Lemon & Chilli with Garlic wherein the former was quite timid and the latter only barely coming through. There was then the mildly flavoured Tomato Chilli which was pleasant enough.
But arguably the best was this green paste, that had a hummus-like texture and a wonderful cardamom fragrance, with some heat lingering in the background.
A colourful array of contrasting tomatoes coupled with micro herbs, segments of watermelon and squash, and so much more, all combining into a summery plate of fresh flavours and textures.
If you close your eyes and imagine hard enough, you’d think you were enjoying this in some remote village in Italy.
A selection of seafood items presented atop a boat meant that this was always going to be the review’s showstopper.
A Fisherman’s Catch that netted in perfectly cooked (and we do mean perfect): pepper shrimp, which offered a crispy exterior with a touch of heat; cafreal, which, while being as tender and as delicate as you’d want, had the taste of the sea coming through; a lightly marinated grilled scallop whose melt-in-the-mouth softness was unparalleled; and a crab cake you can find out more about below.
In all, an outstanding assortment that we could have ten times over.
Yup; we’re that important now! As for the not-so-important pair of fish cakes, then encased in a delicate crispy exterior was this dreamily soft and flaky crab claw mixture, whose sweet meat required the pungency of the mustard sauce to impart a touch of heat.
In addition, the salad side was dressed in a lemon drizzle which helped cut through the mustard’s pugency.
Who would have doubted this Malabar Lamb Biryani? An absolute triumph in every aspect, with spices layered so skilfully that the heat came through in progressive waves, though without ever being harsh in nature.
Not only was the rice aromatic, fluffy and straight-grained, but also contained fried onions, which added a touch of texture, as well as some smoky-sweetness.
“Slow cooked” indeed! This Braised Lamb Shank practically fell off the bone at the merest glance, it was that soft.
What’s more, the spices used were so carefully measured, that not only did the relatively thick curry sauce offer just enough chilli heat to keep things interesting, but the balance achieved meant that this was one of the best dishes had on the day.
Presented simply, with a beautifully attractive dark charred top, this fish flaked apart to reveal glistening segments of moist and tender flesh, whose delicate smoky-cum-sweet taste was nicely tempered by the lemon dressing of the accompanying salad.
One of the best fish dishes we’ve had so far this year, and definitely the best cod!
While this flatfish is known for being one of the more difficult fishes to execute correctly, this particular one only further underlined the chef’s mastery in cooking seafood.
As such, we were presented with fine-textured chunks of soft halibut floating in a generous quantity of watery curry that was just sweet enough to appreciate.
But to really enjoy the curry’s soothing nature, we would recommend dispensing with any and all plates, and just enjoying the dish straight from its container.RECOMMENDED
Again one of their signature dishes, this Seafood Moilee contained cubes of halibut, potatoes and some prawns, all cooked with absolute precision.
As a result, the watery sauce, with subtle undertones of mustard and spices, was another accomplished one, which carried that unmistakable taste of the sea; thus, making this an extremely addictive eat.
Grab yourself a large spoon, treat this like it’s a soup, and commence slurping… quietly, of course (it’s a high end eatery after all)!
NON-VEGETARIAN TASTING MENU
Again, dispense with any plates provided, pull up this bowl of Mangalorean Chicken and down it like you would do any other soup.
With its curry being more robust than the fish dishes above, both in terms of its spices and its consistency, the chicken was indescribably succulent and tender.
As a matter of fact, one of the Lions mistook this for another halibut dish. In any case, the sauce was just as addictive as the Seafood Moilee, with a subtle sweetness that’s complemented by the heat of the finely ground spices.
These crispy and crunchy okra fries were a tad oily, but dangerously addictive nonetheless given the masala batter they were freshly fried in.
An excellent side if you’re looking for some textural contrast.
A well conceived and masterfully executed signature dish this, with the freshness of the lightly sauteed asparagus and snow peas allowed to come through without being overpowered by the addition of the green chillies.
Satisfyingly crunchy, with the subtle aroma of the mustard seeds bringing the entire bowl together, in spite of the indiscernible coconut.
It isn’t often that we’d recommend a paratha. As such, you can imagine how impressed we were with this Malabar variety.
Just zoom in on the image above, and if you’re a paratha-connoisseur, the visual evidence ought to be enough in justifying said recommendation – golden crispy, light and buttery, flaky and crumbly, and layers upon layers of goodness. We could have devoured a dozen of these. A triumph!
Making our way through this trio of Baked Yoghurt bowls was a delightful journey in itself, with each one differing ever so slightly in texture on account of the fruits used.
As such, the white lychee bake was the softest of the lot. With an almost malai-like consistency (malai being the layer of fat collected off the top of heated non-homogenized whole milk in the Indian subcontinent), the lychee came through faintly.
As for the mango, then this was sweet, with the green variety used no doubt, and extremely good.
Finally, there’s a reason why we’d never heard of a palm jaggery baked yoghurt before – it was invented by the chef himself. And what a light-bulb moment it must have been too, because this stole the show, with its gentle toffee flavour and ultra smooth consistency. Unreal!
Essentially three separate elements on a single plate, we decided that the Hot Vermicelli Kheer just pipped the rose-flavoured ice cream to the post.
While the former was outrageously smooth and velvety, with the fragrance of the rose scent capturing the senses and holding them, the latter was unbelievably good, relatively sweet and creamy, and infused with the soothing aroma of cardamom.
As for the cardamom-flavoured coconut cake, then this had a soft potato cake-like texture à la Indian barfi. And lightly dusted in cocoa powder, it had a lot going on for something so small, being sweet and quite tasty in its own right.
COFFEE, TEA, INFUSION
Although the familiar taste of boiled milk was certainly present when it came to the chai, one Lion said he would have preferred a little more masala to his.
His colleague, however, enjoyed it for what it was. Whatever the case, this would be a soothingly good end to any meal.
What’s more, the teas and coffees come with a restaurant-stamped piece of chocolate, which was actually pretty darn good for what it was.
Quilon will then end proceedings by offering a container carrying half-a-dozen complementary discs of white and dark chocolate, with, of course, that Indian twist to them.
You wouldn’t expect anything less from a fine dining establishment though would you?
- YES/ NO
- DISABLED FACILITIES
- CHILD SEATING
- FREE WI-FI
Overall, while there wasn't anything that wasn't executed to an extremely high standard, Quilon appears content in presenting good solid dishes, done with care and precision, without looking to push the boundaries of gastronomic innovation.
With that said, however, if you're looking for Indian food from the south west coastal region of the country - a cuisine which isn't as readily available in Indian establishments here as other regions are - then Quilon is definitely the place, especially if you're looking for great food to round off a visit to Buckingham Palace.
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