We’re always on the lookout for a date night with a difference worthy of a Coco Couples stamp of approval, and an elegant Indian in the impressive Lalit Hotel is top of the list. Nestled in the back streets along Tower Bridge, the Baluchi restaurant sits in the Lalit’s assembly hall of the historic Grade II listed former St. Olave Grammar school on the edge of Tooley Street.
Transformed into a Pan Indian dining space and doused in royal blue, the former assembly hall is an impressive blend of British architecture fused with traditional Indian design. Original fireplaces and dark wood walls give way to an intricate vaulted ceiling clad with sapphire chandeliers – creating a vast yet intimately lit space perfect for an elegant after work drink or indulgent date night.
While the expansive a la carte menu spans traditional dishes from Kashmir, Bengal, Kerala and Goa, Baluchi’s iconic Naanery Bar is a unique culinary experience elevating the humble naan from a simple side dish into an elegant Indian bread experience in its own right. Guests are invited to pull up a seat at the bar, where chefs work their naan magic. Signature canapés are an artwork in themselves, while a selection of four naan’s are delicately crafted with seasonal ingredients and each paired with a complementing wine.
First up is the fig and cheese kulucha, stuffed with paneer and served with a citrusy Pommery Brut Silver Champagne, followed by a porcini and truffle stuffed naan brimming with nutty mushrooms and served with a fresh coriander dipping sauce. A clean and crisp MS Fratelli Indian white wine from the vineyards of Mumbai brilliantly complements the rich truffle oil soaked beneath the warm and pillowey dough.
The blue cheese naan is perhaps the most indulgent on the menu, brimming with French blue and paired with an astoundingly smooth Fratelli red and a fresh tomato relish. The finale is a tangy mango and coconut concoction paired with a tangy berry dip which cleanses the palette perfectly, accompanied with a small glass of Muscat de Beaumes Devenise. Dessert wine is followed by a parade of Baluchi specials whisked from the kitchen in a traditional tiffin carrier, used widely in Asia as a lunch box to transport hot food to inner city workers in Mumbai. Steaming pots of butter chicken, soft pilau rice, sweet carrot halwa and Baluchi’s lightly spiced signature dahl are heaped on plates and readily mopped up with extra truffle naan.
The cocktail menu – printed in a delightfully shabby-chic book, lists all the classics infused with the likes of ginger, cinnamon, homemade chai syrup, lavender and jasmine. We sipped on Latin Notes – a twist on the heavenly passion fruit martini infused with lime, cranberry and Crème de Mure. For gin lovers, the Beree Tooophaan blends rhubarb liqueur with Tanqueray and tart red currants is hard to beat.
Faultless service, mesmerising interiors and a completely unique tasting menu makes for an Indian like no other for £99 for two (with wine pairings included).