Nestled at the heart of Fitzrovia, pahli hill emerges as a culinary jewel that pays homage to India’s rich tapestry of regional cuisines. With an ambiance that artfully marries informality and sophistication, this gastronomic haven curated by Head Chef Avi Shashidhara is a testament to the country’s diverse culinary heritage. The menu is a symphony of indigenous recipes, crafted from generations-old family secrets and presented with an exquisite finesse.
Your culinary journey begins with the A La Carte menu, seamlessly divided into Small Plates, Tandoor & Grill, Big Plates, and Sides, each section unveiling a vibrant mosaic of flavours. Notable choices from the Small Plates ensemble include the delectable HARA KEBAB, a tantalizing marriage of spinach, spring peas, and Rosevale potato, harmonized by bird’s eye chilli & tamarind chutney. The PAPADI CHAT dazzles, adorned with a delightful ensemble of yoghurt, Datterini tomatoes, pomegranate, and summer beetroots, harmonized by mint & tamarind chutney.
From the Tandoor & Grill repertoire, the CHARGRILLED SCOTTISH LANGOUSTINES grace the table, swathed in wild garlic, green chilli & Ajwain. A culinary opus unfolds with the CHARGRILLED AGED BEEF SIRLOIN, donned in Kerala black pepper fry sauce, escorted by grilled baby spinach.
Big Plates showcase mastery with the CHETTINAD STYLE VEAL SHIN where a medley of coconut, black pepper, fennel seeds, cinnamon & chilli enchants the palate.
Completing the tableau are Side Dishes boasting classics like roti, dosa, and saffron pulao rice. The Dessert Menu entices with creations like the ALPHONSO MANGO CHEESECAKE and the DARK CHOCOLATE & COCONUT CAKE, a sweet crescendo that leaves a lasting impression.
Here are some highlights from my visit to pahli hill Indian restaurant in London’s Fitzrovia, starting with some pre-dinner drinks from the Cocktails menu. The “Almond” cocktail is a harmonious blend of Tidal rum beautifully paired with the nutty allure of almonds, the zesty brightness of orange, the tropical embrace of pineapple, and a delicate pistachio finish, creating an exquisite symphony of flavours that dances on the palate. The “Coconut” cocktail is an artful concoction intertwining the botanical elegance of gin with the creamy notes of coconut, elevated by the nuanced touch of vermouth and a hint of bitters. Each sip transports the senses to a sun-kissed oasis, where the interplay of ingredients creates a velvety-smooth libation with a tantalizing tropical allure.
The Pondicherry Fried Squid was a delightful start to the culinary journey at this charming establishment. The squid, delicately crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, came adorned with crispy zucchini flowers that added a lovely earthy touch. The Guntoor chilli chutney provided a intense heat that danced on the palate, perfectly balanced by the bright notes of Amalfi lemon. For chili lovers who really want that explosion of heat, this dish alone provides a warmth to be remembered.
The Mangalore Bun & Scottish Crab Sukkha was an exquisite fusion of flavours. The sweetness of the crab harmoniously melded with the fennel seeds, while the Degghi chilli and ginger brought a gentle warmth to the dish. The succulent crab paired wonderfully with the soft and fluffy Mangalore bun. My standout favourite, this dish showcased a daring blend of culinary influences that deserves commendation. I would happily order it on every visit.
The Pahli Hill Tandoori Chicken Tikka was a triumph of Indian flavours. The succulent chicken pieces, marinated to perfection, were complemented by a refreshing cucumber, coriander, and mint salad. The grated fresh horseradish added a delightful kick that lingered on the palate. This dish truly captured the essence of tandoori cooking and left me yearning for another serving. A dish that got the textures spot on.
The Chargrilled Cornish Lamb Rump presented a rich and aromatic profile. Dried rose petals and stone flower elevated the dish with floral undertones, while the crispy curry leaves and mint added a crisp and refreshing contrast. The lamb rump, cooked to perfection, was tender and full of flavour. Served already sliced, wonderful to share also amazing to save for yourself! This dish showcased a meticulous attention to detail in the blending of spices and textures.
The Homestyle Fish Curry was a highlight that transported me to the coastlines of India. The wild halibut and mussels bathed in a harmonious mixture of tomato, green mango, tamarind, and coconut. Each spoonful was an explosion of flavours, with the tanginess of the tamarind and the creaminess of the coconut working in harmony. Reach for the roro and French it in the sauce. It will keep tou coming back for more. This dish is unquestionably a must-try, as it encapsulated the heart and soul of coastal cuisine.
The Cornish Lamb Biryani was the epitome of indulgence. The fragrant rice, richly spiced lamb, and the assortment of accompaniments worked in perfect unison. The Bombay onion and cucumber raita provided a refreshing respite from the robust flavors of the biryani, while the banana chilli and baby aubergine Salan added layers of complexity. This dish stole the show for me and would undoubtedly be my go-to choice for a return visit.
The Tandoori Sourdough Roti and Pahli Hill Flaky Flat Bread were wonderful accompaniments that enhanced the dining experience. The tandoor char imparted a smoky depth to the roti, making it the perfect vehicle for savoring the various curries and dishes. The flaky flatbread, on the other hand, was a delectable treat on its own, with its layers of buttery goodness.
On the Dessert menu are a mouth-watering selection of homemade ice cream including Pistachio Ice Cream and Parsi Caramel Ice Cream in addition to tantalising sorbet with flavours such as Mango Sorbet and Coconut Sorbet.
The staff’s friendliness and attentiveness throughout the meal added to the overall warmth of the restaurant. The cosy ambiance, combined with the meticulously crafted dishes, made this dining experience a true culinary journey that I would eagerly embark on again. pahli hill encapsulates the essence of India’s culinary artistry, a canvas painted with devotion to tradition and innovation, inviting London’s discerning diners to embark on a voyage of taste that transcends boundaries.
pahli hill is open Monday 5pm to 10 pm, Tuesday – Saturday 12pm to 3pm & 5pm to 10pm. It is closed on Sunday.
79-81 Mortimer St, London W1W 7SJ
020 8130 0101