REVIEW: Hankies, West End
Guest food writer Nathaniel Collins gets to grips with the delicacies on offer at new West-End Indian haunt, Hankies.
For the last decade or so, London’s culinary scene has been gripped by the most welcome revolution of street food. The simple concept of fresh, local produce, well prepared and cooked to order, has not only completely transformed the conventional dining experience, it has also reset the expectations of customers.
Nowadays, you can buy food from vans at a festival/market or step into your local pub and be confident that the burger you purchase will be pretty damn tasty. Tasty enough that the delta in cost between street food and fine dining no longer stacks up for a large number of us part-time foodies.
As the number reaching this conclusion increased, it was inevitable that West-end restaurants and hotels would have to respond. Happily this shift has presented me with the welcome opportunity to sample Mayfair street food through The Montcalm Hotel’s new Indian restaurant, Hankies.
Named after the sobriquet for the classic Roti bread (cooked and folded to resemble a handkerchief), Hankies delivers an authentic take on Indian street food, with a tapas style assortment of small dishes that sample a range of Eastern cuisine.
Being in the West End, however, this simple food would of course have to be set against a decadent backdrop of gold cutlery, sapphire glassware and impressive artwork. The benefit of this compromise meant that the opening salvo of freshly made roti and romalis were devoured cocktail in hand.
An essential mention from the starters was the selection of achars/chutneys. Those that know me will not be surprised to learn that the starter for my hypothetical ‘last meal’ has always been bread and picky bits. It is simply the best. I’ve got to say, there is a fair chance that when the sad day comes, I’ll probably find space on that great table for this dish. Fantastic range of flavours and heady scents.
With said opening salvo well settled, we progressed onto the mains. It has long been my opinion that the sign of a good tapas is where you have to argue with your dining companion around what dishes will make the cut from the menu. The challenge was well met in this instance, with a healthy selection of curry and grill based options from which to choose from.
Stella dishes included the duck masala with cashew nuts, the cod with mango sauce and the lamb chops. There was also distinctive European takes on Indian classics, such as truffle naan bread. Across the range of dishes the food standard remained high
My reflection of five star street food is predominantly positive. The combination worked well and, tellingly, with dishes between £3-£8 it wasn’t out of step with the plethora of food markets that are springing up across London.
All this of course makes the real winner the consumer, as the range of excellent, affordable food is now making its way into places that were traditionally exclusive to serious, dedicated foodies. Long may that continue.
HANKIES Marble Arch,
61 Upper Berkeley Street. W1H 7PP.
TEL: 020 7958 3222
IMAGE CREDIT: Lewis Jackson, Moment Hunter Digital