Review: Benares, Mayfair

Cuisine: Indian
Price: £££
Swank Levels: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

Well it’s got a Michelin star and is associated with celebrity chef Atul Kochhar, need I say any more?
Whilst there are some Michelin star restaurants which don’t actually give off the aura of owning the esteemed star, Benares defiantly does. It’s not over bearing but you can feel its glow. This goes to the extent that whenever you mention Benares most people have heard of it and are aware of its high swank ratings.

The most impressive part of the restaurant has to be the bar area. Whilst the main restaurant is very minimalist making use of cooling white shades, the bar is vibrant, vivid and very endearing. The centre piece is a rather large canoe which is filled with lush exotic flowers bringing a South East Asian feel to the bar area. Guests are also greeted with a still water pool filled with pink water lilies as they ascend up to the dining area, the first time I’ve seen a water feature in a restaurant and I like it! This altogether creates a very calming atmosphere about the place.

After having recently undergone a full refurb, the restaurant now also boasts a walk-in wine theatre and a chef’s table overlooking the kitchen area for an even more impressive dining venue.

Could I Afford Seconds?

The cuisine here couldn’t be classed as simply Indian food. In fact this is not the type of food that Benares aims on creating. Instead there is a distinct English influence leading to a rather Anglo-Indian affair which offers a marrying of Indian tastes served up to English standards. An example of this is the cold saffron soup served in what looks like a shot glass available on the platter menu; something which you would never find being cooked in an Indian household.

In a similar way many of the dishes take a typical Indian dish and then anglicise it. This means that much of the strength of traditional Indian spices is lost but it is instead replaces by very different and quite unique tastes.

The food does taste good it just doesn’t taste Indian, instead if it’s an culinary surprise that you’re after Benares works wonders.

Would I Want Seconds?

On the standard A la Carte Menu absolutely not. However as with most swish and swanky restaurants these days there are dining offers available designed to make their restaurant more accessible, and therefore lucrative.

Benares offers a platter menu for £29 including dessert. There is plenty to sample on this menu and enough to fill an empty stomach. It is also a good option if you want to make the most of Michelin star dining and sample a range of the dishes they have to offer. They have vegetarian, sea food and meat options of the platter available which provides even more range to the amount of dishes offers.

Overall: 5/5

The atmosphere, the service and the general feel of the restaurant was spot on and worth of the Michelin star, to the extent that we stayed well after the restaurant was closed but were not kicked out or even hassled by the staff at all. However the food is very adventurous which is nice at times but in some cases it does feel slightly more experimental than polished.

Square Meal