Tel: +44 (0)20 7702 9739
Address: 37 Crutched Friars, London EC3N 2AE
Cuisine Type: Indian
Tower Hill (DISTRICT & CIRCLE), Tower Gateway (DLR)
Steps from the Tower of London, yet carefully tucked away, lies a delightfully exotic and relaxed discovery in Red Rose Indian restaurant.
Incense wafts your way as you enter the building and walk up the marble stairs to enter the subdued dining area. Our upscale gastronomic journey, provided by renowned chefs Sharm Harish, formerly of the Taj Palace Hotel, Grand Hyatt in New Delhi and Kuldep Singh from Mela here in London, began with perfectly light and crispy popadums, offered with five tasty accompaniments (versus the typical three I’m used to), including a gorgeous mango chutney and spicy vegetable pickle.
To wash it down, our gracious server recommended a lovely mid-range Côtes du Rhone, which was bold enough to complement the splendidly rich Indian specialties and innovations. The complete wine list is comprehensive, offering loads of European reds and whites, and well-chosen “New World” wines (£13.50 – £60.00).
Appetisers (£3.00 – £8.50) were unique and generous, using luxurious ingredients like scallop, lobster and crabmeat. Dishes like king prawn suka, with tamarind garlic, chilli and turmeric, garlic mussels, a house speciality, and scallop puri, spicy scallops served on fried puri bread were pleasingly zesty. Mixed veg and non-veg platters for two are also available for a reasonable £7.95 and £9.95.
Regional meat, fish, vegetarian, tandoori and biriyani main courses (£7.50 – £10.95) are brought to your table with a sense of dramatic flair, reinforcing the restaurant’s reverence of Indian cuisine. Your meal is rolled over on a decorative cart and carefully placed on a rotating serving dish with votive candles – making it easy to share, and able to do so unhurriedly. Try the duck mirchiwala (a real treat), expertly prepared with chillies and peppers, or the moist and tender chilli lamb shank. Thankfully, the knowledgeable waiting staff can help you choose a dish with your desired level of spiciness.
Dessert, if there’s room, includes indulgences such as kulfi, Indian ice cream with fruits, nuts and cream in pistachio and mango flavours, or for something a tad lighter, go for the mango ice cream topped with passion fruit sauce and papaya pieces (£1.90 – £4.00).
Red Rose seems the ideal place for a working lunch or dinner, or perhaps a late-night amorous outing for two. Given its location, we were not surprised to see many suit-and-tie-clad gentlemen quietly and comfortably discussing business. Currently, the lunch and dinner menu is exactly the same, however, having recently opened, the establishment is looking to offering chef specials down the road.
Overall, the food was superb, well presented and affordable. The only perplexing point was the décor – a bit hotel-like was my first thought – with Roman and Grecian architectural sketchings on the wall. Not very Indian-inspired, but nevertheless, safely elegant. My guess is the understated environment is to keep patrons focused on the food – a wise decision.
– Sue Couter, 4/2003