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December 12, 2012updated Feb 11, 2013

Indian Dining at London’s La Porte des Indes

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

London, UK – Reported by Elite Traveler, the private jet lifestyle magazine

La Portes des Indes is a wonderland of Indian kitsch that leaves the busy streets of London far behind. No sooner have you wiped the English rain from your shoes than you’re met with smiling faces, gargantuan plants and faux tiger skin rugs. The walls ambush you with carved animals, Indian antiques and paintings of bygone worthies and Hindu folk tales. A handsome white marble staircase leads you to the lower level, where a tiled pool bubbles all blue and languorous. The wicker-clad bar is dotted with champagne by the Jeroboam, Salmanazar and, yes, Balthazar—a drinking den for a Maharaja’s son perhaps. As if all this wasn’t enough, a vast mirror spanning one wall magnifies the whole affair, giving the happy illusion of much more beyond.

The menu is inspired by the French Creole cuisine of Pondichéry and other former French trading posts in Southern India. Before La Porte des Indes opened in 1996, chef Mehernosh Mody spent several months in Pondichéry, learning to cook traditional dishes and local family recipes. The French influence can be seen in starters like Tandoori-seared foie gras served on crisp honey naan bread with fig and ginger chutney, and the Demoiselles de Pondichéry—grilled king scallops with garlic and saffron. Signature main courses include the cassoulet de fruits de mer, a rich seafood stew simmered in vindai spices, and the Plateau des Indes, a tasty selection (thali) of Franco-Indian dishes.

The dessert menu features Southern Indian favorites like nutmeg bebinca—a warm spiced layer cake served with molasses and Madagascan vanilla bean ice cream—and sweet, sticky balls of gulab jamun made from a milk-based dough and rosewater. The generous wine list includes a 1994 Château Pétrus, a 1999 Dom Pérignon and a number of wines picked specifically to suit the cuisine.

See more top London restaurants in the Elite Guide to London

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