Vama

Tel: +44 (0)20 7565 8500
Address: 438 Kings Road, SW10 0LJ
Cuisine Type: Indian
nearest tube station Sloane Square (CIRCLE, DISTRICT)
Website: www.vama.co.uk

Vama opened in Kings Road in 1998 and has rapidly developed a reputation as a very classy Indian restaurant, winning the Carlton Best London Restaurant Award in 2000. Chef Andy Vama offers sophisticated Punjabi cuisine from Northern India in refined, elegant surroundings – stone flagged floor, creamy walls and linen and a conservatory at the back of the restaurant complete with palms.

The service is classy too – friendly, discreet and very helpful, and willing to advise on menu choices. The dishes in this region of India tend to be fairly delicate, so even those marked as spicy are unlikely to offend. The flavours of ginger, coriander chilli and garlic predominate.

The menu at first seems slightly strange because starters can cost more than main courses, depending mostly on whether you are going vegetarian or feeling carnivorous. Either way you are well catered for, with a splendid array of dishes to choose from. A mixed platter at around £12 – plenty for two people – includes a taster of both including a meltingly tender baby lamb chop, succulent chicken, salmon tikka and tasty vegetable dishes.

For once we didn’t over-order main courses (£6 – £14) – always tempting when faced with such a choice – and congratulated ourselves that we would polish them off with no problem. The small bowls they arrived in were deceptive however. Portions of tender lamb in delicate coriander and ginger sauce and a spicy chicken dish, accompanied by Kulcha bread filled with cheese were delicious but very filling. I regret I can’t tell you what the dishes were called, as I stupidly didn’t take a copy of the menu. The only duff information our waiter gave us is that it’s on the website (see above – flashy but rather user-unfriendly), but at the time of writing it wasn’t; you can find details of the home delivery service there, though.

Puddings are rather more European than Indian in style – lime brulée was good, and a sort of chocolate mousse was richer than anything I’ve ever tasted before (though there was no sign of the ginger sauce that was meant to accompany it). Orgasmic, but beware if you’ve already eaten well, which you probably have…

There is a good wine list; beers are also available as one would expect, and our request for tap water resulted in an elegant glass jug with plenty of ice: full marks.

At eight in the evening all was calm and tranquil; just what we needed after fighting our way through the traffic of a Chelsea home match. By eleven Vama was buzzing with diners – useful to know if you’re looking for late meal (though it does theoretically close at 11.30). Altogether a good combination of quality and atmosphere.

– Helen Wright, 2/2003

,