Seeing the tremendous rise in popularity of the relaxed dining style on the street food scene, it was probably hard even for a celebrated fine dining restaurant like Benares not to get involved. Their founder, Atul Kochhar, in case you were not aware, was the very first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star when he worked as the head chef at Tamarind and he was awarded his second Michelin star in 2007 with his own highly-acclaimed restaurant, Benares.
Situated in the high-end world of Berkeley Square, his clientele is used to dining on the finest wines and lengthy tasting menus. However, their latest Indian street food menu, which is offered at their bar only, makes the Michelin-starred cuisine more accessible to the general public. The bar has subtle mood lighting with a suitable blend of modern furnishings matched with traditional Indian touches. The low chairs are handcrafted with detailed images of the Indian countryside.
The five street-food dishes are taken from various regions of India to highlight the vast variety of the different regional cuisines. Quinoa salad, spinach and red onion bhajia is an example of how to make vegetarian dishes mouth-watering; the deep-fried dish is filling and a great matching dish for their Indian-themed cocktails.
The highlight of the cocktail list is the Green Spice Martini, which mixes exciting Indian spices like coriander and cumin with Wyborowa vodka and some added fire with fresh root ginger. Although there are other exciting creations including the Passion Fruit Chutney Martini, which had the help of chef, Atul Kochhar, and other classics like the Benhattan and Lychee and Rose Bellini.
The crispy tikka naan was an ideal canapé-style dish; the crunchy naan matched well with the tender chicken and a smoky tomato dressing. This was their recommended highlight from the Punjab region and the other meat dish was a very-filling lamb kofta roll dish, which represented the Lucknow region. It was very well flavoured with a coriander and a mint salad accompaniment.
For seafood lovers, they have a traditional street food snack typically from Mumbai, pani puri – fried, puffed, crisp dough balls are stuffed with appetising pickled prawns. These addictive morsels of delight will no doubt help them boost beverage sales, as they also go remarkably well with the cocktail list.
The final Indian street food snack on their menu is crispy fried Cornish mackerels, which was slightly less exciting than the other offerings, but did come with an invigorating Kachumber Salad, which helped to cut through the greasiness of the dish.
The dishes start from £5.50 or you can have the whole set as part of a sharing menu for two for £30.00. For more details or to book in, visit Benares.