Saturday, 20 February 2010

London’s new Colony

Opening of Atul Kochhar’s new restaurant

In advertising, you know you’ve stumbled on a chin-plummeting idea when it seems so obvious you think – why the hell has this not been done before?
Animalistic joy evoked in a drumming gorilla. Can you get any more joy than that?

And this is how I feel about Colony, Atul Kochhar and restaurateur Carlo Spetale’s new venture in London’s Marylebone Village, the champagne-fuelled opening for which was last Wednesday night.

I mean - serving dishes inspired by street-food from the myriad of British colonies, street-food honed from centuries-old techniques. These global influences all in one place. What a great, steamingly obvious idea. And with a ridiculous amount of street-food out there in the world, there is also a ridiculous amount of room for Colony to evolve.

And then there’s the idea of bar-snacking this food.

Nothing whets the inebriant appetite more than a good injection of savoury spicy nibbles, and with Colony bringing over the head chef from Michelin-starred Benares, one would hope for particularly good spicy nibbles. Their speciality is in nashtas, which they call Indian-style tapas, usually eaten in India as elevenses. My personal favourite of the canapés was the paneer with a vibrant verdant herb sauce.

I’d just arrived as Jimmy Choo, the revered shoe designer, was leaving and was told that Kochhar and Choo are soon off on a jolly jaunt together to Malaysia for culinary research. Mmmmm. The master of spice with the master of shoes. Not the most obvious choice of travelling companions until you realise that Choo is fortuitously Malaysia’s ambassador of tourism. Will he intensify Kochhar’s already far-reaching interest in multi-cultured Malaysian food?

Kochhar will also be venturing to other former colonies, including South Africa, to compile these recipes for a book, and there are rumours of a TV programme too.

Time will tell whether this concept will fly, but I’m willing to wager success.

Colony Bar and Grill: 7-9 Paddington Street, London W1U 5QH
020 7935 3353

The Hoxton Pony
Quick word on where NOT to go. I had to scoot off to the Hoxton Pony afterwards for a masquerade ball. Surly service, soggy nuts and general all-round disappointment – Hoxton’s very pony bar.

104-108 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3AH
020 7613 2844


salty said...

Great post Helena - did you get a look at the menu? K

Helena Lee said...

thanks katy! No unfortunately I didn't. Walked past a couple of days later to see if they've put one outside but nothing- Very mysterious. There's only one thing for it. We just have to eat there (in the name of research)

bhavna said...

Great write up and as I have been there, I completely agree with you. It's a very charming place with great cocktails and the food is fantastic. So yes, you have to go and try it.

Helena Lee said...

ah thanks bhavna - will definitely be trying soon. any food/cocktails to recommend?

bhavna said...

I am a vegetarian but my friends were raving about the Lamb Chops and Prawns. For the tapas, I loved the Pav Bhaji and the stuffed Courgette & Pepper, Aubergines, Potato and Biryani for main were great. I love the lychee Martini's. They have started Thali's for lunch and I can't wait to go and try it. Also I believe they are starting Sunday Roast, Indian style. If you try the thali, than please let us know what it was like. Enjoy.

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