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SEEN reviews: Daawat at the Strand Palace Hotel

SEEN and her guest ventured forth last night to the elegant Strand Palace Hotel - so well placed for Covent Garden, Theatreland and all the delights of Central London – to sample the cuisine at the spacious Daawat’s, which you can access through the luxurious hotel, and via its own vibrant red entrance in Burleigh Street. SEEN was particularly keen to try the dinner menu, boasting as it does the talents of Keralan Head Chef Asharaf Valappil, who recently won Best Chef at The Curry Life Awards 2016.

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SEEN and her guest ventured forth last night to the elegant Strand Palace Hotel – so well placed for Covent Garden, Theatreland and all the delights of Central London – to sample the cuisine at the spacious Daawat’s, which you can access through the luxurious hotel, and via its own vibrant red entrance in Burleigh Street. SEEN was particularly keen to try the dinner menu, boasting as it does the talents of Keralan Head Chef Asharaf Valappil,who recently won Best Chef at The Curry Life Awards 2016.

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The great man himself was taking a well-deserved evening off, but it was no matter. He clearly has Daawat’s kitchen in good order if last night was anything to go by. We started with poppadoms and home-made chutneys – delicious – and sipped our wine. My guest had a small glass of Cambio 7 Sauvignon Blanc which she pronounced as delicious and refreshing, while SEEN had the gloriously named Gumnut Shiraz which was packed with blackcurrant and cherry flavours and very smooth.

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Then we had Dhahi Bhalla; lentil dumplings, Indian papri pastry, mint, ginger chutney and sweet yoghurt, to share. This was like little explosions of sweetness, texture and subtle spiciness in the mouth, and whetted our appetites fir our mains. My guest had Achari Prawn; tiger prawns, garlic, chives and pickling spice (ideal if you don’t like too much spice, our lovely waiter said). I had Nargisi Kofta; spiced paneer dumplings, melon seeds and rich butter sauce. The dumplings were hotter than the prawns for sure (we shared) but with added depths of flavour and sweetness. Portions were sensible and the waiting staff smiling and attentive.

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For sides we had Aloo Parota which was much softer than the usual paratha that SEEN has had elsewhere and Bagan Ka Salan, which were small aubergnes cooked in peanut, sesame, tamarind and jaggery paste. It was truly a feast (the meaning of the word ‘daawat’). It was a melange of subtle spices, different textures and freshness. Yes there was chilli heat, but it was balanced with all the all the other flavours.

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For dessert, SEEN went with the Lavender Crème Brulee, which was light and creamy without being over-sweet, and my guest just about made her way through Chocolate Samosa, which comprised two mini-samosas stuffed with coconut, drizzled with milk chocolate and served with mango sorbet, strawberries marinated in ginger.

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SEEN pronounces the whole Daawat experience to be truly spectacular. It’s a gem right in the heart of London. We staggered out into the Strand, not just full of our delicious meal, but replete with a sort of existential happiness. Daawat easily surpassed our expectations of what modern Indian cuisine is all about. Long may it continue with Asharaf Valappil as Head Chef.

www.strandpalacehotel.co.uk

Daawat at the Strand Palace Hotel
327 Strand,
London
WC2R 0JJ

Entrance also in Burleigh Street.

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