It may seem somewhat of a contradiction to head to Chelsea looking for great value restaurants. Diners would normally go looking for a classy venue or award-winning cooking. Luckily for visitors of The Painted Heron, you get all three things.
The location isn’t the easiest to find: it’s a short distance from King’s Road on a quiet residential street. However, if you head in the direction of the Thames from the restaurant, you will quite readily see the splendid sight of Chelsea Bridge.
Even though the restaurant has been around for more than 15 years, it’s clear they have spent money on keeping the decor updated and in keeping with the expectations of the Chelsea crowd. There are soft pastel-coloured walls mostly decorated with pricey-looking artwork and comfortable, relaxed seating.
They have attempted to modernise the menu by dividing it into land, sea and garden which I have seen in Modern British restaurants but not at Indian restaurants. Prices are coded into a number of sticks which range from 1 stick at £3.75 to 6 sticks at £22.50.
We opted for the set menu which is £38pp, that is typical of Chelsea prices. However, the portions were hugely generous; our meal for 2 could quite conceivably feed 4-5 guests. You choose 1 starter each. then have 3 main courses to share along with 3 sides that looked more like main courses along with a chest of naans and rice and this was finished off with a dessert each.
The starters began with mouthwateringly tender lamb cutlets; it was flavoursomely marinated with nutmeg flowers and as you can see from the photo, in any other restaurant, this would be served as a main course. My guest chose a classic chicken tikka dish which was served with honey and we got another dose of chicken tikka for the main course which was served with almond and tomato curry along with clotted cream. You really do get a sense that award-winning chef Yogesh Datta has incorporated British cooking ideas into classic Indian recipes to create even more appetising dishes.
Wild pink salmon was served with carum seeds, which gave the dish more of an anise-like flavour and aroma. Lamb neck fillets served with roganjosh curry and dried apples were very moreish tasting and we kept dipping the naan bread into the curry even though our waistlines were expanding by the minute. As mentioned above, the sides were extremely well-portioned, the pureed spinach and potato curry was almost identical in size to the other dishes.
It might be mission impossible, but you have to make room for their delightful desserts. We had a well-matched trio of chocolate samosas, rose-petal ice cream and crunchy deep-fried balls of gulab jamun. At first, they seem oddly unrelated, but they complemented each other superbly well and made for a fine ending to a regal Indian feast.
Have a light lunch or no lunch and then book yourself in at The Painted Heron and sample the delightful menu from Yogesh Datta and understand why they are still at the top of their game after 15 years in the business.