LONDON EATERIES – Darren’s Keto Column – Kanishka by Atul Kochhar Tingles the Tastebuds

Welcome to my new restaurant review where I review restaurants for those individuals adhering  to a strict keto diet.  This can present itself as a terrible inconvenience when eating out, so join me as I report on various eateries from high end to pop-ups! 

It’s very rare when I’m exposed to public places that I don’t get irritated.  In fact, as my hubby will attest to, it’s virtually unheard of.  There will always be some detail that will vex me.   Then my interminable moaning will start.  I’m like a dog with a bone and and the poor hubby gets barked at.   Yet, from the moment I was greeted by Jatin Parmar, through the double wooden door, to the moment I exited  and said my farewells, Kanishka in Mayfair, it was just, can I say it?  Wonderful!  I had an inkling that Kanishka would be a great experience.  And boy, was it great! Created by Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar. 

So, first I loved the décor and the ambience of the restaurant.  Upstairs is open and comfortable with a clement amount of air conditioning. I loathe being hot and sweaty in a dinner jacket, resorting to dabbing the pressure points on my wrists with ice cubes to curtail any embarrassing hot flushes. But for me, the best feature was the serenity  of the venue.  I have a hideous hearing condition called hyperacusis, which means I cannot filter sound, so a pin drop sounds like a fog horn and I’m forced to wear earplugs when out in public, another reason why I get  annoyed easily.  I’ve been in some restaurants that are so noisy I ‘ve fled.  But tonight I never felt like fleeing, the total opposite, I loved every moment I was in there.  

I loved the décor and the ambience of the restaurant.

As soon as I was seated, I was given sparkling water and a glass of champagne (Atul Kochhar Blanc de Blanc NV, Noé-les-Mallets, France, £16.00) which was excellent.  Then the most crucial element, the menu.  So selecting from the set menu, which is £45 for 2 courses and £49 for 3 courses, I deliberated over which tempted me the most.  So does the menu accommodate us Ketonians?  It sure does!  And what was even greater, as soon as I indicated to the waiter that I didn’t eat rice, he clocked that I also didn’t eat bread either.  This is so refreshing.    Again, I get so irritated when the waiter dumps some basket of  pernicious little bricks of carbs in front of me, then looks at me as if I’m weird when I decline the little horrors.  However, I did violate my usually impenetrable keto defences for dessert.  More on that later.  

So my first choice was the Patrani machhi-steamed sea bass with peanuts and coconut chutney.  Hubby had their signature Atul’s chicken tikka pie. The menus focus on the traditional and unexplored cuisines from the northern parts of India and the Sister States.  Well all I can say, Was WOW!  I ‘ve eaten a lot of sea bass in my life, but this was nothing short of sensational.  It was steamed and  presented within a banana leaf.  After unveiling it, I devoured this mousse-like succulence of a dish, relishing the spicy flavour profile.  Now, I have a delicate palate, even a korma is too hot for me, but this dish was sooo sumptuous that I fully appreciated the spice.  According to hubby,  his chicken tikka pie was equally  delicious – tender chicken, perfect pastry and a stunning wild berry compôte.  The wine was carefully selected by Jatin to compliment the dishes.  I was given a Chablis (Domaine Vrignaud, France, 2020, £17.00) and hubby had Gavi di Gavi DOCG (La Smilla, Italy, 2021, £13.00)

The main course for me was Tandoori chicken supreme with cabbage and kosha gravy.  The chicken was tender as the sea bass had been and the tandoori sauce was screaming to be lapped up with a spoon.  Because I didn’t have rice I had additional  dishes of  onion bhaji and saag makai paneer – tender paneer and corn with spiced spinach curry.  The former was perfectly cooked and the latter was so divine and soothing after the spicier sauce of the tandoori dish, that I got possessive of it and only allowed hubby a smidgen.   Remember I usually only tolerate a korma!   My wine  for this was a Cabernet Franc/Merlot (Atul Kochhar’s Malatinszky, Hungary, 2021, £9.00).  I’m no wine connoisseur, but this was definitely not offensive to my tastebuds, on the total contrary, I demolished it as I had the champagne.  Hubby had a marvellous Peach wine (Rhythm Winery, India, 2021, £11.00).  He loved it so much that as soon as we got home he tried to order some online,  but unsuccessfully as we don’t live in India, so we will simply have to return to Kanishka for some more! 

Now for my confession.  Yes, as I formerly admitted, I had a dessert.  Traitor!  I hear you cry.  And yes, I know, but it was so worth it.  I had  the chocolate delice, gunaja chocolate and milk ice cream. What an incredible silk-like sensation upon my palate.  The taste was of chocolate and not of sugar, which is often the case with restaurants of this calibre.  Less high-end puddings are loaded with sugar and they taste sickly.  But this was just pure unapologetic excellence, that didn’t cause my blood sugars to rocket to diabetic levels.  Oh, I’m a type 2 diabetic, who has controlled their blood sugar to safe levels (through  Keto), so, I’m allowed to say that!

I left Kanishka in such a good uplifted mood.  The experience was so great that I even maintained my good mood on public transport! As I write this article, I can still sense the essence of the meal on my palate; it really did tingle my tastebuds and left an impression.  I thoroughly recommend this restaurant for myriad reasons, from the taste of the food to the attentive  and personable service of the staff.  The menu caters for us Ketonians and vegetarians.  If I had to rate this restaurant out of 5 stars, I would give it a resounding10!  

If I had to rate this restaurant out of 5 stars, I would give it a resounding10!  

Kanishka by Atul Kochhar

Address: 17-19 Maddox St, London W1S 2QH

020 3667 9990