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Under the flickering chandeliers and against the backdrop of heritage-era paintings, Colonel Saab emerges as a culinary bastion in London’s vibrant gastronomic scene. Unfolding with aristocratic aplomb, this restaurant combines the allure of regal aesthetics with a meticulously curated menu that is a gustatory tapestry of traditional and innovative Indian cuisine.
Occupying a sprawling and palatial space, Colonel Saab’s interior design draws a breath of fresh air into the dining scene. A soft, delicate palette of cream and gold breathes life into the restaurant’s colonial-era-inspired aesthetic. Each corner reveals comfortable furnishings of plush velvet, embroidered accents, and carved mahogany detailing hinting at a bygone era, offering a dining experience that is not just palatial but personal, not merely grand but gracious.
Hand-picked antiquities provide gentle nods to the epoch of the Indian Raj, with bronze statuettes, latticed screens and sepia-tinted portraits dotting the expansive area. The atmosphere is suffused with an ambience that whispers of history and indulgence, punctuated by the soft clinking of glasses, gentle murmurs of diners and an undercurrent of instrumental melodies.
And yet, Colonel Saab does not wallow in nostalgia; it masterfully blends tradition with modernity. The lighting, ever so subtle, accentuates the contemporary elegance in its design, creating an atmosphere that is both intimate and stately. The result is a balance that satisfies the senses, setting the stage for the gastronomic spectacle that is about to unfold.
The heart of Colonel Saab’s culinary soul lies in its exuberant and thoughtful menu. The Gilafi Seekh Kebab, minced lamb wrapped in minced peppers and cooked in a tandoor, or the Amritsari Fish Fry, deep-fried fish fillets coated in gram flour batter, are both excellent starters.
Moving on to the mains, their signature ‘Colonel’s Royal Thali’ is a visual delight of colours and textures. The Thali is an ode to Indian regional cuisine, encompassing a vibrant spectrum of dishes that conjure images of sun-soaked markets and rich, heady spices. The star of the menu, the Saab Special Biryani, is a gustatory tour de force. Each grain of rice, delicate and aromatic, nestles against tender chunks of spiced meat, cooked to succulent perfection. The medley of flavours unfurls on the tongue, unveiling layers of fragrant spices, subtle heat, and savoury depth.
The ‘Tandoori Jheenga’ emerges as a fiery contender, promising an incandescent palette of flavours. Coated in a smoky, spicy marinade, these grilled prawns carry a slight char deeply reminiscent of age-old tandoor cooking methods. This dish is a thrilling composition that appeals to both the aesthetic and the appetite.
For the non-vegetarians, start with the ‘Lucknowi Paneer Tikka’, a delightful melange of soft paneer cubes marinated in aromatic spices and charred to perfection or the ‘Tandoori Broccoli’, where the smoky flavours of the tandoor elevate the humble broccoli to gastronomic greatness.
The ‘Paneer Butter Masala’ – soft cubes of paneer bathed in a rich, tomato-based gravy, resonates with a symphony of spices. This decadent delight is beautifully paired with the ‘Dal Makhani’, a harmonious blend of lentils slow-cooked to perfection in a creamy, buttery base. The duo is perfectly complemented by the fluffy ‘Naan’ bread, its slight char and soft, pillowy interior serving as the ideal vessel to mop up the luxurious gravies. This trio, an ode to the culinary heritage of India, is a treat not just for vegetarians but for anyone with a penchant for sumptuous flavours.
In the grand finale of desserts, the ‘Gulab Jamun Cheesecake’ etches a bold stroke across the canvas of culinary fusion. The profound creaminess of a classical cheesecake coalesces with the syrup-soaked, intoxicating sweetness of the timeless Indian Gulab Jamun. It’s a dialogue between cultures, while the ‘Kesari Phirni’ weaves a more nostalgic narrative. This delicate dessert, studded with strands of precious saffron, echoes India’s age-old culinary traditions. This striking contrast between the avant-garde and the traditional underscores the eclectic versatility of Indian cuisine, delivering a finale that reflects the vast spectrum of a gastronomic epic.
Colonel Saab’s beverage curation shimmers with innovation, taking the familiar and shaking it up quite literally. The ‘Kolkata Paan Mojito’ is a vibrant testament to this inventive spirit. This delightful concoction mingles the refreshing nuances of traditional Kolkata Paan with the lively rhythm of a classic Mojito. The result is a drink that effervesces with surprise, each sip a journey through familiar lanes, yet with a twist that transports you to unexplored alleys.
Not to be outdone, the ‘Masala Chai Martini’ presents a compelling narrative in a glass. This clever cocktail plays a thrilling hide-and-seek game with your taste buds. It introduces the warming familiarity of masala chai, only to tease it with the sophisticated sharpness of a martini.
Whether you seek the familiar comfort of tradition or the thrill of culinary innovation, Colonel Saab stands as a gastronomic stage where both are celebrated. Dining here is an immersive encounter with culture, served on a platter, poured into a glass, and savoured in memories that endure.