It’s a sign of the times when you see top quality restaurants at the respected The Montcalm closing with the regularity of an iPhone update. The previous incarnation of their flagship restaurant, Sixtyone and Nirvana Kitchen was much loved by the Townfish team. The latest resident is Hankies from renowned chef, Anirudh Arora who is a former protégé of the Michelin-starred Indian chef Atul Kochhar.
They haven’t changed too much with the decor; having kept their stylish lampshades and centrepiece ‘chandelier’ and the furniture is just as well-cushioned as before. I did spot the odd Indian painting in the corner to give an added accent to reflect on the updated cuisine.
A cursory study of their menu will indicate the direction the hotel is aiming for: there is no dish that is over £9 which is almost unheard of at a luxury hotel restaurant. They clearly want to make Hankies, a restaurant diners feel comfortable with visiting regularly on a weekly basis rather than an aspirational, special occasion, formal dining establishment.
The dishes are tapas style in concept but still very well-portioned. From their small bites section, must order dishes include the bhindi bhel and the bhatak ki kurchan. The former is a delightful fried okra ‘salad’ with a welcoming crunchy texture from the okra and rice puffs whilst the flavours come from a vibrant sweet chutney along with coriander. Textural considerations were very much in evidence for the latter dish as well, which had crispy duck, masala cashews, and watermelon and had a powerful tasting sweet and spicy drizzle with mint.
Their grill section is a meat-lover’s paradise with dishes offered per piece, so you can try more different varieties. The lamb chop was firm and not overly fatty and packed with punchy flavours as it’s been marinated with Kashmiri chillies, paprika and mustard oil. Whilst, the chicken is moist and flavoursome with an abundance of red chilli, mint, and coriander.
They do have more substantial dishes in their pots and pans section. I tried an exotic sounding stir fried masala crab meat and potatoes baked in an egg custard, which was crying out for some accompanying naan bread to soak up all the flavours.
Dessert is a not-to-be-missed affair here; their gulukhand kheer rice pudding dessert is not only one of the most elegant Indian dessert I’ve seen in a long time but the tastes are well judged with an excellent balance of caramelised mango and ginger honeycomb.
Make sure you go and support Hankies at The Montcalm. It’s unlikely you will find any other hotel restaurant as accessible and pocket-friendly as Hankies.