Bangalore Express is only a stone’s throw away from the London Monument, but it is much more difficult to find! Tucked away in a courtyard off Gracechurch Street, there is a fantastic bar right by the entrance, as well as several tables with seats, which are handy for waiting for further members in your party, or when it gets full in the main seating area downstairs. A word of warning for those who cannot do without their access to 3G – once you descend, the only access is provided through the restaurant Wi-Fi for guests.
This Indian restaurant has a variety of offerings on the menu – from set pieces, whether traditional curries you might be familiar with or modern reinterpretations, to a build-your-own course option. But the best way to start is with poppadums and Bangalore Express’s own chutneys. Two options find just the right combination between spice and sweetness for you, and the colours are vibrant and inviting. The promptness with which the drinks can arrive at your table as well is highly impressive, though the advice to stir your cocktail is unfortunately withheld, leading to a less sweet ending when you’re on the dregs of your drink.
Helpings for main courses are big, so any item of the Thali section should be consumed knowing that it’s larger than a regular serving! Ultimately the power of how much lands on your plate lies in your hand, with all mains’ components served in their own dishes to be served by yourself. There are some cuts of meat that are more or less recommendable than others – the lamb can be sinewy, for instance – but there are also excellent alternatives such as paneer or vegetables. The heats of the curries are very well described in the menu, though it may not be intuitive to think of a tikka masala as medium, compared to store-bought jars. The dal is spiced well with a blend, rather than a dominating note of cardamom or cloves.
Desert can be exotic, or familiar, depending on your choices. Kulfi is well worth trying, though the sweetness of an Indian dish is very different to that of European cuisine. However not everything is completely described in the menu – the watermelon ice lolly may be served strangely in a bowl, unwrapped, but the strangeness is revealed as you discover it hasn’t started melting, but rather is served in a puddle of rosewater. Little things that take you by surprise in a less positive manner, such as the desserts or the cocktails malaise, are what take an otherwise wonderful experience at Bangalore Express down a notch.
Kettle Rating: 3/5