BY PALOMA LACY
One word sums up Baluchi at the LaLit Hotel in Tooley Street: grandeur.
I was lucky enough to be invited to its second birthday party a few weeks ago – a celebration of turning two, it doesn’t get much grander than that – my friend and I were met by tabla players, welcoming guests along a pathway lit by flame torches.
Awestruck at the beautiful interior, the biggest surprise was yet to come as I entered what can only be described as London’s most stunning dining room.
Clearly this was the reason for the invitation, to show off the jewel in the hotel’s crown, Baluchi.
Located in the Great Hall, imposing, impressive, elegant and refined in equal measures, the eye is quickly drawn to the most exquisite blue chandelier hanging in the centre of the room, high above our heads.
Looking up to see a balcony running the length of the left-hand side only added to the building’s splendour.
Top marks for the view but did the food match up?
It most certainly did. Baluchi rather sensibly decided to highlight the best of the a la carte menu, which quirkily follows the school calendar.
So for term one – or as a starter – we were served a selection of spicy poppadoms with accompanying dips.
The sharing platter showcased the skills of the brilliant tandoori chef, with kaffir lime chicken tikka, lamb chops and butterfly king prawns.
I could hear diners’ resounding agreement regards the succulence of each item, little doubt enhanced by a long marination process.
We loved it and were very pleased when a visit from the chef resulted in some more fragrantly spiced tikka being brought to the table. We should perhaps have saved ourselves for mid-term – or main course.
Murgh Adraki – a deconstructed curry of free range chicken – sat on a bed of a ginger curry sauce, including winter root vegetables and served with buttered spinach.
On the milder side than I would have liked but actually a nice change for the vats of fire, I’d normally go for.
For me, the star of the show was Dal Baluchi, a satisfyingly creamy dish so good I’d have happily eaten it on its own with a spoon.
Both dishes were served with Mutter Pulao rice and mixed Tandoori breads.
Baluchi certainly appears a more formal setting, but the pricing is modest, with starters from £8. And it’s not just lunch and dinner that’s taken care of, it’s also open for breakfast, serving English and Indian breakfast.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, Santosh Shah, executive chef of The LaLiT London, has partnered with former Great British Bake-Off contestant Rav Bansal to create a limited edition High Chai afternoon tea – the perfect treat to show mum you care.
Available from March 31-April 6 and priced at £47, the much-loved British classic has been given a contemporary Indian twist with exciting and innovative flavours, along with a bespoke botanical cocktail menu to match.
Better still, on Mother’s Day itself, all mums will be treated to a complimentary cocktail from the limited-edition menu.
Santosh Sha’s savoury bites such as pulled lamb brioche with tomato jam; and Punjabi samosas with tamarind imli chutney are on offer, alongside Rav Bansal’s indulgent sweet treats, including cardamom and rose choux au craquelin; chai and coconut mousse cake; and spiced santra mille feuille.
Paloma was a guest of Baluchi, The LaLit, 181 Tooley St, London SE1 2JR.
Call 020 3765 0000.