What: A huge new flagship restaurant for north Indian brand Hankies, located directly adjacent to the Haymarket Hotel on Suffolk Place.
Who: Hankies is the creation of chef Anirudh Arora, a former protégé of Atul Kochhar, who came to London in 2003 having previously worked for The Oberoi Group in India. After a stint at Kochhar’s Mayfair restaurant Benares, he went on to be head chef at Moti Mahal. Then, in 2017, he opened two restaurants of his own: Hankies Café in Soho, and Nirvana Kitchen in Marylebone – the latter of which was subsequently converted into Hankies’ second site.
The food: Arora’s menu is based around accessibility, with a focus on tapas-style small plates that are priced predominately between the £3 and £6 each. Dishes are taken from traditional street food recipes, and designed to ‘showcase relaxed north Indian cooking’. The menu includes a selection of small bites such as a three potato chaat with lotus crisp papri, tamarind, and maple yogurt (£3); crispy guinea fowl with chilli salt, ash peppers, a ‘sweet drizzle’, and herb mayonnaise (£5); and 'fruits de mer popcorn' of crispy rice puffs with snow crab, shrimps and sago seeds, served with a lemon and coriander dip (£5). A selection of ‘grills’ and ‘pots’ includes mustard paneer with bell peppers, pearl onions, and balsamic chutney (£4); spicy chicken curry with yoghurt cheese (£6); lentil stew with Indian squash and goat curry (£7); and chilli lamb chops marinated in Kashmiri chillies and honey (£9.50 for two). The restaurant’s signature dish, though, is its roomali roti; a thin flatbread that is hand spun, cooked, and then folded into 'hankies' that is available plain (£1.95); or with a variety of fillings, including chicken khurchan; and pulled lamb spare ribs (£5 each).
The vibe: Hankies’ opulent appearance, complete with huge chandeliers and a glitzy dedicated bar area, feels a little like Hakkasan on steroids, but it’s hard not to be won over by its overtly lavish design. At 250 covers, it’s a massive space, but one that still manages to feel intimate thanks to the muted lighting; and also features a large private dining room that comes complete with its own bar, and will be capable of seating up to 55 guests.
And another thing: In a bid to also draw in central London clubbers, the restaurant has a dedicated space in the centre where a DJ in residence will be spinning the decks from Thursday through to Sunday.
4 Suffolk Pl, West End, London SW1Y 4HX