Hankies Dishes Out Casual Indian Street Food In A Perfectly Posh New Setting
You might’ve walked past a garish neon sign on Shaftesbury Avenue bearing the words Hankies Cafe, and that’s a crying shame. Amid the cacophony of loud banners and emblems, Hankies’ blue and neon doorway is easily missed – though the casual Indian street food inside is less forgettable.
Having dined here a couple of times, we were pleased to find a larger establishment had popped up in Marble Arch, lending much-deserved breathing space to the skilled chefs flinging out hand-spun roti from a searing hot Roomali Tawa (not to mention authentic curries begging to be mopped up). When you see them, the ‘hankies’ moniker makes sense – the menu centres around thin, delicately folded breads which make the perfect accompaniment to the authentic array of street food dishes, served tapas-style.
At the cafe, we usually begin proceedings with jumbo prawns doused with yellow chillies and served alongside a light carrot raita. Next, a crab meat dumpling and egg curry (or ‘crab kofta’) with a little less kick than we’d hoped for, but tasty nonetheless.
Super popular dishes include the lamb Rogan Josh (served up in a huge pot, it’s pretty impressive-looking and tastes just as good – deep flavours are owed to lashings of ginger and Kasmiri chillies) plus the inimitable classic, Butter Chicken (our favourite by a country mile). This is served up Delhi-style: a whole baby chicken, so soft it falls off the bone, swimming in a buttery tomato sauce spiced with fenugreek and Garam Masala. Perfection on a grim, wintery day.
Over in Marble Arch in the base of the bougie Montcalm, the menu is larger and more accomplished, stretching to desserts and even brunch. You can start with small bites of crispy duck with masala cashew nuts, mint and watermelon or our veggie partner’s fave: sprouts, spicy chickpeas, jaggery and chilli jam.
Grill dishes include tikka paneer with fennel and a grape chutney, or turkey kebab with cream cheese and spiced cranberry chutney. The Gosht 5oz Rib Eye isn’t to be missed – proudly dished up with Burani garlic chilli yoghurt and a healthy tomato salad.
ANYTHING ELSE? Feeling thirsty? Stop by Nirvana Bar for a single malt or a rather potent cocktail, with a perfectly posh black and gold backdrop.
ADDRESS: 61 Upper Berkely Street, London, W1H 7PP
PHONE: 020 7958 3222