T’was the season of Halloween, where ghouls lurked conspiratorily in the shadows of night, and children screeched gleefully. The crunch of orange leaves underfoot, as you walked past the carved pumpkins with a sneering smile. Despite being autumn, the air was suprisingly temperate and balmy, a slight breeze. It almost seemed like winter wasn’t coming this year. And so the couple in their late twenties ventured into the middling autumn calmy. A blue faux fur shaggy jacket perched nochantly on an intricate pale blue lacy maxi dress. Paired with a blue and purple flower crown, and cross-over heels, the lady was never one to fade into the background. Her partner, in a semi-formal tapered blue shirt, half tucked into black jeans, beaten down trainers peeking casually. For they were on a quest, merging the worlds of Indian fine dining, and weekend brunch in one exquisite sitting. And where would they go? Why only Manthan Mayfair, where culinary dreams awaited.
Just a stones throw away from her beloved Soho, the couple entered a slate grey door with anticipation. Their eyes widened, hearts quickening. It was an aesthetic wonderland. Plush teal ribbed seats and brown tables, with elegant swan napkins. Perfectly sheeny glasses that sparkled, twinkling in the sepia drenched yellow tones of the restaurant. It was quiet when they came, but it quickly got busy, the small restuarant filling up with warm bodies. Yet, they did not mind, the chatter of the people nearby like a dining lullaby. The vibe? Relaxing, chic, and elegant, a hodge podge of colourful minimalism with a splash of electicism. It wasn’t often that the couple dined in Mayfair, given its (usually) high-price tag, usually preferring the casual eateries of the soho restaurants nearby. Still, today was different. They were in the mood to be fancy. It had been a tough few months for them both, and they deserved to let their hair down.
In the end, it was Manthan Mayfair that stole their heart, as A narrowed down the choices from 50 to 3. It was the menu that appealed to them, an Indian fine-dining brunch with heart and soul. Mood lighting aside, the interior was gorgeous. A beautiful teal blue canopy emblazoned with pink and green flowers before you even entered the restuarant. The aforementioned plush blue velvet seats, contrasted with chocolate brown tables, and walls. A series of intricate paintings glossy and sheeny, glowing in yellowish light. A shocking contrast of bubblegum pink booths breaking up the blue, in a restuarant by Rohit Ghai and Abhishake Sangwan.
The intimate setting of the townhouse, made it perfect for couples like A and D, who wanted a ‘fancy brunch’ in a cozy location. Just off Maddox Street, it was competing against the big dogs like Bombay Bustle and Kanishka. Yet the couple believed that Manthan Mayfair truly held their own. A had been to a plethora of Indian fine dining restaurants, and Manthan was up there with the best. The vibrancy of the brunch reminded A of the mouthwatering delights at Chakra Kingston, one of her favourites. Yet Manthan, was different. It was smaller, whispered secrets in corners. Just a mere second away from bartenders juggling up cocktails with love. The service here, had heart, and soul, a credit to the attentive staff, who were eager to help. No matter how many questions the couple threw at them, they were ready with an enthusiastic smile.
And so the adventure began, fresh brunch inspired by Michellin star chef Rohit Ghai’s life in food. From the markets of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (where he grew up) to professional kitchens all over the world, Ghai had experienced myriad flavours and cookery techniques, all of which came together in the new Indian restaurant. The influence was apparent. A brunch menu with home-style cooking, with luxury finesse. Signature cocktails inspired by the seven oceans of the world, fresh exotic fruits teetering in botanical infusions. A brunch signature sharing menu for D, the meat affecinado. On the other hand, a vegetarian’s dream, the ultimate veggie brunch menu. As far as restaurants in London go, Manthan had buzzing personality in spades.
To start? A small trio of delectable treats. The veggie lady, was blessed with Dahi ke Kebab, Jackfruit Uthappam, and Paneer Tikka, delicacies in their own right. Though A and D had originally set out to try the A’la Carte menu, the servers had suggested the brunch menu. Turned out it was the perfect choice. The Dahi Ke Kebab mini but impactful. Doused in tangy yoghurt, it was peppered with Kashmiri chilli, offset by the light sweetness of plum. And who could forget the Paneer Tikka, in all its glory. A single yellow cube, with green chutney, and a slathering of corn chaat, topped with carom seed. Yet it was the Jackfruit Uthappam that won the round for best starter. Larger than the other two, it was nothing short of extraordinairy. A lentil pancake podi, with a generous helping of spiced jackfruit, topped up with tomato chutney.
Washed down with a non-alcoholic mocktail, Sindhu was the perfect balance of sweetness and freshness. Tart pomnegranate circling heady mint. Lime caught in the throes of jaggery, floating in sparkling apple. For D, his brunch starter experience was just as magical. Chicken chop chargrilled in tangy mustard, sprinkled with kashmiri chilli and fenugreek. Cafreal Macchi (sea bass) rubbed in goan spice, with burnt tomato. But nothing stole his heart quite like the Shami Kebab. Goat that was sweet, and slightly gamey, melting tantalizingly in the mouth. A asked D to describe the taste (being a vegetarian), and he conjured up a picture with words. Sizzling, reminiscent of a meat falafel. Soft, and tender, it fell apart on his tongue. Yet, it was paired with kachumber, drizzled with mint chutney that he wasn’t a fan of.
Although the portions were small, the sizing was perfect.A taster, that opened up a world of new possibilities. A cultural explosion of flavour, spice, and merriment. The smaller portions were surprisingly filling, packed with protein, for a hearty meal. Still the best was yet to come. The mains were here: a Kerala Prawn Curry for D, and Paneer Makhani plus Soya Mince for A. Both were served with punchy Dal Lasooni, rice, and Paratha. For A, she settled on Soy Keema, given her allergy to aubergines. Yet, due to a technical error, she ended up with Paneer Makhani, which she was more than happy with. You could tell by looking at them that the couple were in their happy place. Food had such a delicious way of connecting people, allowing them to be present in the moment. That was something that A had struggled with massively. Being present, and not in work mode. She couldn’t help it. It was a huge part of who she was.
Ironically it was the Paneer over the Soya Keema that A preferred. It was rich, and creamy; paneer cradled in a thick tomato gravy, with a velvety consistiency. A blanched tomato swam, adding acidity to balance out the richness. Poured over rice, that soaked up sauce hungrily, she added a dollop of Dal Lasooni. The lentils were warming, and comforting, a hug in a bowl. A winter warmer creeping into autumn that filled your body with feel-good vibes. She dabbed at it with paratha, oh how it hit the spot. Yet, she needed something to counteract the sauciness of the dishes, and the Salli Soya Keema had something to say. Soya mince and potato straws, with a dashing of apricot. This, was probably her least favourite taster from the mains. Though she liked it, the spices ended up ‘tasting the same’ as everything else. It was becoming increasingly difficult to seperate all the flavours. With a splash of yoghurt or chutney, the Soy would have been brought to life.
For D, a prawn curry, hit all the right notes. It was the perfect choice. Never the biggest fan of coconut, the creaminess of the curry, was suprisingly moerish. Curry leaves floated in the gravy effortlessly, which he enthusiastically ate with basmati rice. Well-balanced, the succulent prawns were tender. He would have preferred a naan, as opposed to the paratha. Still, it paired gorgeously with his Sangam cocktail. A chai spice infused white rum, with Tandoori grilled pineapple, with tiki bitters. The pineapple was sweet, complementing the juciness of the savoury prawns.
Their stomachs pooched contentedly; they hardly had room for another course, but desserts beckoned. A was hesitant; she was particular about her desserts, and Indian sweets were no exception. They were often cloyingly sweet, and A much preferred the savoury aspect of Indian cuisine. The only two Indian desserts that A enjoyed were Rasamalai, and Kulfi. Still, she was open-minded, allowing herself to have the full Manthan Mayfair brunch experience. For D, a malpua Rabri, and for A the classical trio awaited, presented on a beautiful golden platter. Aesthetically speaking, both desserts looked beautiful. The Rabri a fluffy fried pancake surrounded by sweet, condensed-milk. Infused with pistachio, mixed berries, and a smattering of saffron, it was nothing short of spectacular to look at. The other? A selection of popular delicacies. A Besan Barfi, Gulab Jamun, and Srikhand.
Though the desserts were beautiful to look at, sadly the two were not a fan. This didn’t come as a surprise given that both had more of a savoury, than sweet taste. Still, Manthan Mayfair was a rioutous affair. A celebration of two people in love, who just happened to really love food. A feast for the ages, that put Indian fine dining on the map. Considering the success of Rohit’s first London restaurant Kutir in Chelsea, it was clear that Manthan Mayfair was another knockout. And so, with bellies engorged with flavoursome food, they left into the throes of Saturday afternoon, continuing their journey in the heart of Soho. The girl in the blue lace dress twirling, dancing in blue stilettos. The beau cha-cha-ing in a comedic way, as they danced, and flirted into the darkness of night.
Turned out Manthan Mayfair was just the culinary adventure that their hearts had been calling out for. And boy, did it feel right.
Have You Tried Manthan Mayfair’s Magical Indian Brunch?
Please note, I paid for this meal in full. I was given a budget from Open Table, and the remainder of the budget I had left was paid to me. This was to ensure authencity in my review. As always all my thoughts and opinions are my own, and are not affected by monetary compensation.