After a rather decadent bottomless Champagne afternoon tea experience in their Palace Lounge, I was thrilled to be back at The Rubens at The Palace to explore more of what this majestic establishment had to offer. On this visit, I had the pleasure of trying our their exquisite Curry Room. A proud holder an AA Rosette, The Curry Room serves an inspired three-course menu created by Chef Arun Kumar, alongside an exceptional Thali, delivering an experience that celebrates authentic flavours made with the finest ingredients and exclusively imported spices from India. Coming from a multi-cultural background in Malaysia, I’ve always loved spices, and Indian cuisine certainly hits the spot for me, their art of spicing arguably the most sophisticated and complex in the world.
As we entered through the striking New York Bar, we were warmly greeted by Vince, the charming Hotel Manager, who kindly gave us a mini tour, beginning at The English Grill where we were welcomed with glasses of chilled champagne before being shown to our front row seats at the pass in their open kitchen for some canapés. To whet our appetites, we were first served tasty morsels of smoked salmon with caviar and horseradish cream cheese, balanced on dainty crouton bases, prepared by Executive Chef Ben Kelliher, before we began our gourmet spice journey with the enthusiastic Chef Kumar.
We began with Papri Chaat, a popular North Indian chaat, traditionally prepared using crisp fried dough wafers known as papri, with boiled potatoes, chopped onions, and a myriad of other toppings which included coriander, mint chutney, a tomato base, yoghurt, chickpeas, and chopped red chillies for that extra spicy kick, which I’m always partial towards! A vibrant combination of colours and textures, each one was a delicious mouthful of flavours which worked harmoniously together. Next up were onion bhajis, an Indian crispy fritter, accompanied by a tangy mint sauce and chopped onions, followed by chicken and lamb seekh kebabs, beautifully marinated overnight and perfectly grilled, sprinkled with their secret ingredient, chaat masala which elevated the flavours. Last but not least was a healthy yet moreish chickpea salad before we proceeded onto the sumptuous main event downstairs.
As we descended the stairs, we arrived at the warm and intimate Curry Room, the magnificent interiors incorporating Rajasthani hand embroidery and rich red colours that reflect the vibrant diversity of the dishes. As we comfortably sank into the plush red leather banquet sofa, Curry Room Manager, Mohan, swiftly took over the reigns for the evening and made us feel extremely well taken care of throughout the evening. To complement this unique dining experience, an extensive collection of old and new world wines has been carefully curated, from which we were recommended a fruity and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc from Bouchard Finlayson, their sister vineyard in South Africa. Continuing to build up our appetites, we nibbled on crispy poppadum with a trio of dips (lime pickle, mango chutney, raita) alongside a hearty Keema Samosa.
We left our menu choices in the skillful hands of Chef Kumar who cooked up a feast that was shortly laid out before us. As part of Chef Kumar’s Thali, we tried the creamy Vegetable Korma, the Spicy Beef Vindaloo, and their signature North Indian Style Butter Chicken, simmered in a rich butter, chilli and coriander cream resulting in a velvety smooth sauce with a luscious mix of sweet and sour flavours. We were even gifted a recipe card to take home after, which I’m looking forward to replicating in my kitchen one day – although I doubt that it will taste as good in my amateur hands! A traditional recipe from Goa based on the Portuguese dish, carne de vinha d’alhos, Chef Kumar’s Vindaloo is unlike the tongue-searing curry that you often encounter in many British Indian restaurants, and instead had just the right amount of heat for us to enjoy the pieces of extremely tender slow cooked beef.
Completing our meal was a selection of Basmati rice and traditional Indian bread that were perfect to soak up all that delicious curry, as well as a side of freshly chopped vegetables to freshen up our palates. Paired with our mains was an elegant Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal, which had pleasant spicy undertones.
Craving something sweet at the end of our meal, we shared a sinfully good serving of Bea Tollman’s Baked Vanilla Cheesecake with strawberry coulis, and the rich and indulgent Dark Chocolate Fondant with a meltingly soft centre, served with crushed cinder toffee, white chocolate crumble, and a fresh mint ice cream.
Overall it was a memorable experience from start to finish, with the most commendable service by the wonderful team at The Rubens.
The Curry Room banquet experience with Chef Kumar is available on Friday and Saturday, at 5.30pm and 6.15pm, and is priced at £300 for two people, which includes two wine pairings. It is one of the many unique experiences offered by The Rubens, and I am certainly intrigued to explore more of them in the near future. You can also book to enjoy their Set Dinner Menu on it’s own – further information can be found on their website.
- My Curry Room experience at The Rubens at The Palace was complimentary – views and photos are my own.