Set in an imposing red brick building that once housed the former St. Olave’s Grammar School sits Baluchi, one of London’s most breathtaking restaurants.
Following a sympathetic and wonderful restoration, the historic Grade II-listed building is now home to The LaLiT London hotel.
The most glorious public area in the hotel is Baluchi, the restaurant located in the school’s former assembly Great Hall that provides a genuinely impressive setting and a menu that effortlessly combines the best of traditional and modern Indian cuisine.
If ever one were to put together a list of London’s most stunning dining locations, Baluchi would most likely be at the top. Resplendently designed, it is imposing, impressive, elegant and refined in equal measures.
Visually magnificent with an atmosphere of elegance and impeccable taste, the dazzling design and decor of the dining hall are jaw-droppingly beautiful. The ceilings and upper walls are painted in a strikingly rich byzantine blue, whilst a spectacular trio of immense sapphire-tinted glass chandeliers from Hyderabad hang suspended from the 12-metre vaulted ceiling.
The elegant decor gives the huge and dramatic space an air of grandness and sense of occasion, yet there is a warmness from the building’s historic allure. Tall mullioned windows, dark wood panelling, intricately carved wooden screens and painstakingly restored wooden floors make for an atmosphere that is intimate, not ostentatious.
The galleried balcony that covers the entire length of one side and the eye-catching exposed beams further amplify the splendid beauty and striking character of this unique space.
The vibrant menu offers well-executed Pan-Indian cuisine that is delivered in an exciting experimental style and is full of wonderful and complex flavours.
Serving dishes that are a light contemporary twist on traditional Indian cuisine synonymous with the North-West Frontier, the extensive menu takes inspiration from the diverse country’s regions, including Kashmir, Bengal, Kerala and Goa – plus many more.
The man behind the innovative and modern menu is Executive Chef Santosh Shah, who previously worked as Head Chef of Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Kitchen in the City of London. He has also held positions at Michelin-starred Benares and Dishoom.
Delivering his take on innovative Indian cuisine with impressive aplomb, Chef Shah’s menu is on all accounts beautiful, imaginative and highly accomplished. Dishes are served with exquisite style and presentation, and there is an à la carte menu as well as a fabulous 7-course tasting menu.
Diners may start off with culinary highlights such as the Lamb chops served with smoked aubergine, coriander chutney and beetroot crisp; Tandoori octopus with clay oven roasted baby potato, coriander chutney and puffed quinoa; or the Hand-dived Orkney scallops with oyster leaf pakoda, buckthorn puree, gin foam and pickled grapes. Chicken lovers will swoon over the succulent Kaffir lime chicken tikka with its Thai-inspired flavours. The tandoor-roasted free range corn-fed chicken is served with cashew crumble.
For mains, the Lamb shank gushtaba – a Kashmiri delicacy of slow-cooked lamb shank, fennel, cashew, saffron and masala mash – is a must. The slow-cooked lamb shank falls off the bone and is mouth-wateringly perfect. Simply sublime is the Tandoori lobster with masala shrimp khichdi, wild mushrooms, homemade lime pickle and sabudana papad.
Baluchi at The LaLiT London also serves some of the most creative Indian desserts one will ever encounter. The pistachio kulfi Indian ice cream served with faluda and fragrant rose syrup is one of the dessert menu’s high notes. The decadent chocolate mousse with clove, smoked lemon curd, mango crisp and caramel popcorn comes highly recommended. Another standout dessert is the Saffron-infused compressed tandoori pineapple with cardamom ice cream and pink peppercorn tuille.
Baluchi also launched London’s first and only Naan’ery (bread bar), a dedicated space offering contemporary twists on these quintessential Indian breads. Set in the Great Hall at the bar and open kitchen, the Naan’ery is an interactive experience, with the Chef creating each naan course in front of diners. The naans are authentically cooked for just one minute in a traditional cast iron tandoor oven, capable of producing heat of 600 degrees Celsius. There is a gorgeous selection of handcrafted Indian breads using seasonal ingredients, with delicious choices including the potato, porcini and truffle kulcha; fig and cheese kulcha; and mango and coconut naan. Each freshly baked naan is accompanied by its perfectly complementing wine.
Baluchi is not just open for lunch and dinner, but also breakfast – English and Indian – as well as afternoon tea.
For breakfast, the lavish Indian option is memorable: sip on a frothy salted lassi, dip spongy idli pancakes into a lentil-based sambar stew, or feast on Mumbai-style scrambled eggs served with masala baked beans.
On the mezzanine level, the Gallery offers a unique take on afternoon tea. It is an ideal spot to take traditional afternoon tea with an interesting Indian twist. There is a unique tea selection, ranging from an extensive collection of world teas to Indian masala chai, all presented by a professional tea sommelier. Do not miss the delightful High Chai menu, which is Shah’s version of afternoon tea that includes Indian street food favourites, freshly brewed masala chai and a glass of mango lassi. The Gallery also offers a bird’s-eye view of the mesmerising Great Hall, allowing guests to marvel at the stunning interiors.
For the pleasure of al fresco, there is a beautifully designed terrace.
Revered for its culinary brilliance and its lavish decor, Baluchi London sets the stage for a dazzling Indian fine dining experience at the highest level.