Quilon is a swanky South Indian restaurant in Westminster’s Buckingham Gate. It makes the elaborate claim that it is “the home of traditional home-style South-west coastal Indian cuisine,” which despite being incredibly specific isn’t strictly true because the home of that food is actually the south-west coast of India.
Despite their website’s outlandish lies I decided to head to Quilon for their recent relaunch, and give Michelin Star South-Indian cuisine a try.
The evening was held in celebration of a reopening after extensive refurbishment. Quilon got all dressed up for the occassion. It’s now all very neutral, very relaxing and contemporary. I expect this was all done in honour of the young folk, who can’t bear that god awful wallpaper most Indian restaurants seem to be cloaked in. (I know this because I am a relatively young folk and that wallpaper makes my toes curl.)
The kitchen is headed up by distinguished head chef Sriram Vishwanathan Aylur, who gained the restaurant its first Michelin Star in 2008 and has retained it to this day. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the menu isn’t what you’d usually expect from a standard Indian restaurant. It’s all a bit experimental, a bit different, a bit… Michelin.
The evening’s culinary offerings came in the form of canapés and nibbles which were served over drinks as we were invited to cast our eyes over the Quilon transformation.
I have perfected the art of the canapé party, so took premium position early on in the evening. When at such a party one must first access where the canapés are coming from, and then intercept them before they reach the crowd. This is how to feast at a canapé party. This is what I did, and this is why I can tell you what everything tasted like.
On offer were a range of South-Indian nibbles. We started with lamb balls which packed a punch but weren’t overly impressive. Things started to look up, though, when I saw these cauliflower cones. Undeniably cute and delicious. They look like something from the sea side…all I needed was a deck chair to munch them in. Tempura Indian was a new experience a most enjoyable one, the batter was light and crunchy, complementing the delicate flavour of the veggies. I admit to having more than one of these little cones, but that’s ok, it is one of my five a day.
Asparagus and rice balls offered just the rich amount of crunch with a sweet, sticky risotto like substance in the middle.
Something I’d never encountered before was the ‘Masala Uttapam’ which were similar to little pancakes and full of spice and flavour.
The star of the show was coconut chicken which was moist and sweet with a coconut sauce that wasn’t overly sickly and rich as most are. Sadly it wasn’t photographed but it looked like pieces of chicken in a white sauce. Imagine it. Go on…
My only criticism was that a lot of these canapés were quite repetitive, so I wasn’t entirely sure Quilon showcased as much of their talent as they could’ve done, but food was plentiful and enjoyable (if not outstanding), and the drinks were flowing. Not bad at all.
And for those of you who were wondering: yes there is Molton Brown in the toilets.
41 Buckingham Gate