Restaurant Review: Silk restaurant, Great Marlborough St, London

A friend and I met for dinner at Silk this evening.

I picked it (only this morning) because I was intrigued by the idea of Indian Thai fusion, had read some good reviews about both the food and the service, had also read that the setting itself was very nice and saw that it happened to have a toptable offer on at the moment.

It’s located within the Kempinski Hotel (which is diagonally opposite Liberty and opposite the top end of Carnaby Street). The room itself used to be the Number One Court and is small but rather grand. The vaulted glass ceiling, far, far above the diners, lets in lots of light which means the very high, oak-panelled walls don’t seem as imposing as they otherwise might. The judge’s bench, dock and witness stand are still present which results in tables on different levels. And there can’t be more than 25 covers in the whole room.

The menu is ostensibly derived from the Silk Road routes across Asia to Europe though it’s essentially modern Indian with a Thai influence.

As a hotel restaurant it’s not busy and definitely not buzzing but it’s calm and attractive and perfect for a foodie dinner date.

After ordering we were served with an amuse bouche. I didn’t catch the name but imagine, if you will, small rectangular crispy pastry sheets (like that Italian ‘carta da musica’) studded with little seeds. With this came two condiments, one a raisin or fig chutney of some kind and the other a pickled grated carrot thing.

After that we were given another complimentary course – a small glass of fruit juice flavoured with galangal. Refreshing.

For starters we ordered two and shared. The first dish was scottish roe deer steaks, beautifully spiced, unbelievably tender, cooked perfectly medium-rare, served with a small asian salad. The second was a mixed platter with three items – a kind of breadcrumbed and deep-fried vegetable burger type thing with fig chutney beneath and a lovely coriander sauce on top, a large, plump and sweet scallop and a small artichoke heart with a pool of what I think was a kiwi sauce and a foam the flavour of which was incredible but which has slipped my mind now, I’m afraid and then a tender and subtly flavoured piece of chicken wrapped inside a leaf to keep it moist as it was cooked, served with some light chilli sauce.

For our mains we both chose the duckling which I think had a tamarind marinade or glaze. Just beautiful in terms of flavour and cooking. A generous portion too. And I loved the minutely diced and gorgeously spiced scottish pumpkin that came with it not to mention the unusual but successful pistachio sauce. With the duck we shared a side of pak choi and an assorted serving of breads. In the menu it listed the breads as naan, stuffed kulchi and mint parantha so when the dish came with only the first two in it (they were great at explaining what was on the plates as each dish was served) I expressed (very) mild surprise/ disappointment that there was no mint parantha included as that had been what caught my eye. Some minutes later a second dish appeared with mint paranthas! The stuffed kulchi was my favourite as it was soft and crispy at the same time and contained paper-thin slices of spring onion and red onion. Yum!

I bet you can’t believe that I had space for dessert but I had to try the banana tempura with rum baba and smoked milk chocolate soup! The banana was nice – served hot and freshly fried – though nothing special. The rum baba was too sweet even for me and was left. The (cold) smoked milk chocolate soup was really rather interesting. I loved it but my friend wasn’t convinced. And, on asking about it, we learned that it really is smoked – the chef passes smoke through the liquid though I couldn’t establish whether it was wood smoke, tea smoke or what. Really rather better than it sounds.

As if we had any more space, they brought out a generous dish of hand-made fruit jellies and chocolates both of which were superb.

Throughout our meal service was excellent – attentive without being intrusive, warm and friendly, helpful, knowledgable about the food and cooking and proud of the restaurant itself. We were even given a brief explanation of the room’s history after we were served our drinks.

Be warned that drinks are expensive, especially the wine list which really doesn’t have many reasonably priced options. And, without the toptable offer, the bill really would have been pretty hefty. Even with the offer, it still was. Oh and the menu is certainly not extensive, though I like that. It says to me that the chef is focused on getting a limited number of dishes right rather than dividing his attention between too many dishes to do justice to any of them.

But certainly, both of us enjoyed the meal, service and environment hugely and would go again.

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