119 Brockley Rise
London SE23 1JP
Tel: 020 8291 2400 Before I start this review I must make a confession. Babur is my go to local Indian restaurant I have eaten there many times and never had an unpleasant plate of food. It sits in no man’s land between Honor Oak and Brockley and is distinguished by a giant tiger’s head jutting out above the restaurant. This has always proved a talking point with my children. “Where did it come from?” Where is the rest of it?” Inside is no ordinary restaurant. It is plush, modern and sleek. And I’ve never been there when it’s not full. You have to book. One of the good things about Babur is they move with the times and seasons. We were given a menu of cold weather cocktails to choose from. I chose the Honor Oak Manhattan a warming mixture of Maker’s Mark bourbon (one of my favourites) a tawny port and cherry and orange bitters. It was indeed warming in the way a whisky mac creeps up on you and before you know the cold has disappeared. M had a kind of virgin mojito that had that vibrant green only fresh mint can deliver. The chef, Praveen Kumar Gupta not only has oodles of experience but he manages to blend and concoct the most interesting of combinations with startling success. For example we had a few starters one of which was clove smoked chops. These were fantastic, no overpowering ‘oh my god I’ve just put a clove in my mouth while eating an apple pie’ moment. This was subtle as can be and the meat was perfect, spicy but not too hot. The griddled scallops were sweet and nutty shrouded in crushed spice butter, beautifully soft and light with a delectable roasted cumin and onion cauliflower puree. It is possible to book a table here and then just let them do everything for you. We did. It is quite fun just letting them choose the food for you. I had complete faith in the chef and staff. Another decision you can confidently leave to them is wine choices. Every dish on the menu has a suggested wine to match it. And the wines here were good. The mains were dominated by the fabulous khasiko masu with steamed rice. A village style boneless goat curry, with fenugreek and cinnamon. The flavour is sealed in with a pastry top during cooking and then discarded before serving, its job done. This was a winter warmer of a dish. Quite hot spice wise but the taste is incredible, rich curry and light fluffy rice and meat that you could cut with a fork. The architectural chicken chettinad, a peppery masala from South India comes with a perfect fool’s cap made of dosa hiding its fragrant treasure. The breads were good as well. My favourite (and I always have it when eating here) is cheese and chilli naan. This naan is my desert island naan of choice if I could only ever have one type of naan forever I would choose this. Such is the popularity of Babur that they have comfortable waiting area at the entrance. It is for customers waiting for their tables and the increasing number of orders being collected. What could be better than treating yourself to a takeaway from a modern Indian restaurant that has been lauded by such heavy weights as the Michelin Guide, Hardens, Sunday Times and many others. Indian desserts sometimes get a bad press, often due to their lack of variety and excessive sweetness. This was not the case at Babur, my white chocolate and cardamom mousse with a raspberry lid and mango sorbet was just the ticket, cooling with a touch a spice. M who hadn’t said much all evening except “ that’s so good” or “Try this it’s amazing” went for a sub continental take on one of her favourites; spiced apricot and fig crumble with saffron custard. Again, this was a warming wrap-you-up-in-a-blanket dessert. And having spiced custard gave it that twist that Babur is so good at. This review may read like a fan letter, in a way it is. The food here was exceptional, beautiful, consistent and above all really tasty. They have cracked that very hard nut of having a cool modern restaurant with what I call ‘new Indian’ food that isn’t weird or odd but just very good. The staff were charming and always helpful and I hope to be able to continue dining there for many years to come. Long live Babur. www.babur.info
I heartily agree. This is a superb local restaurant, well known to everyone in the area.
Thanks for your comment Deirdre I’m glad you agree, it is a local institution!