Restaurant review: Daawat at the Strand Palace Hotel, WC2

I think it’s fair to say the Strand wouldn’t be your first port of call when seeking the sweet hit of a curry.

But there is at least one cracking Indian to be found in theatreland now that Daawat has taken over Johnstons in the Strand Palace Hotel.

The decor is elegant ifnot very sub-continental, but from the start the food is distinctly a cut above. Even the poppadoms were seeded and well flavoured and came with an excellent tangy tomato dip.

The chicken tikka was tender, pretty hot and flavoured with fenugreek leaves, while the tandoori prawns were as succulent as their 24 hours marinating would suggest.

Our Nalli Nihari was a big lamb shank that fair fell off the bone, swimming in a mild but tasty sauce, which we had with a crispy garlic naan that had risen in the oven like a phoenix.

On the chef’s recommendation we also had the biryani, which was an impressive dish served in the pot it had been cooked in, sealed round the edges with naan dough.

Our waiter cut it open for us and the heady aroma burst free in a cloud of steam. Clearly fresh out of the oven, it was very hot but, once cooled, full orfaromatic spices – though for my money, there was a bit too much rice and not quite enough sauce.

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Alongside we had a cheeky aubergine baghara baingan dripping with flavour, again recommended by the chef.

The service is immaculate – polite and forthcoming without being overbearing – and the food was all of a high standard. Eating a la carte is on the dear side, but at two courses for�14 the pre-theatre deal represents a bargain and Daawat is a top contender for a pre-show meal.

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