The chef at Rajdoot has been a cooking up a culinary storm for 40 years, so it’s with some embarrassment we only just made our first visit.
Housed in a nondescript modern building, the interior came as a wonderful shock. The restaurant is filled with treasures that owner Manjit Gill has picked up on his travels, like the bronze dancing ladies, the original art from Rajasthan and the traditional pendant lighting. It felt warm and genuine – a million miles from the minimalist blandness we’ve become used to.
The executive lunch menu is £10.95 for three courses and promises to be served promptly enough to get you back to your desk within an hour. I guess to fulfil the speed element, the choice was small with four starters and four mains, but it really didn’t matter – all the favourites made an appearance. I opted for tandoori chicken served on the bone which was juicy and delicious while JC opted for lamb shish kebab which had a nice kick. As with the design of the restaurant, the food was presented thoughtfully and nothing felt rushed despite the lunch hour target. The lamb jalfrezi was great with just the right amount of heat for me, but the surprise came in the form of the accompanying vegetables. Often they’re an afterthought, but I could have happily eaten these as a main course with rice. My meat-loving friend agreed which is saying something. He opted for chicken bhuna which he polished off before I had a chance to sample it, but it was apparently ‘perfect’. The naan bread was pretty perfect too.
Not big fans of Indian desserts, we accepted Mr Gill’s recommendation of kulfi reluctantly. He looked on as we tasted the sweet frozen dessert. Gulp. We needn’t have worried. The kulfi was genuinely lovely and the coolness and cardamom hit was a refreshing end to the meal. No need to lie. The lunch menu worked brilliantly on lots of levels – flavour, cost, portion size and timing, but the most striking thing was that this beautiful restaurant felt loved which lifted the experience beyond a tasty lunch… more like escapism.