REVIEW: Hankies, Leicester Square
WHAT? Authentic Indian curries, grill dishes and marinades mopped up with classic Indian roti – hand-spun flatbreads cooked on a burning hot roomali tawa, then folded into ‘hankies’, the restaurant’s namesake.
WHERE: An almost baffling location for a genuinely good restaurant, Londoners won’t often head to the neon signage of Shaftesbury Avenue for a memorable meal. But Hankies offers a short menu of truly great Indian dishes and strong cocktails, served tapas-style by smiley waiters – if you’re looking to pop in for a cheap bite and some beers, this should be your stop off.
BEST DISH: Begin with one or two portions of roomali. Beautifully soft, they’re perfect for wrapping up grilled meats or dipping in spicy sauces and signature chutneys. The Chicken Achar – a jaggery chutney studded with chicken, mixed spices and curry leaves – makes an excellent little starter, followed by a portion of the moreish egg and crab gotola (£7.50). This is a type of egg ‘masala’, a dry curry mixed with spicy crab, perfect alongside a cocktail (at around a fiver, have two).
From the grill, try the chive and garlic prawns (£6.50) or a pumpkin paneer tikka (£4), cooled with the aubergine raita as a side dish. Each would stand up perfectly on their own, but scoffed down DIY sandwich-style, they’re fun too.
GOOD TO KNOW: Reservations aren’t possible, which is the only downside to this little gem – Shaftesbury Avenue’s throngs of tourists should ensure the place is never empty, which is bad luck for locals in the know.
DETAILS: Hankies.cafe / 67 SHAFTESBURY AVENUE PICCADILLY, LONDON, W1D 6EX /0207 8716 021