Flora Indica could be one of my favourite local Indian restaurants in London - not an easy mantel to achieve given the plethora of competition out there for the UK's ‘best loved cuisine’. I make that bold statement based on several key factors. These include their unique interpretation of classic Indian dishes using the finest local ingredients, a fabulous bar with local ales sourced from Portobello Brewery and cocktails using curated botanical craft and premium gins, a trendy but not ostentatious decor, a very accessible location (close to my house!) and impeccable, attentive service that is welcoming and informed.
One of the things I love about the restaurant is that it is hidden in plain sight - by which I mean that although you may have passed by on many occasions and heard the buzz you most likely are yet to venture in and treat your tastebuds and expand your gastronomic horizons - all the way to India! The menu is perfectly suited to both ‘Curry Connoisseurs’ and those that are reticent to venture to try foreign foods. Perfectly mixing classic Indian dishes with local ingredients and adding a British twist makes the dishes familiar yet inviting.
The creative decor is inspired by and pays homage to the intrepid Scottish botanists who travelled throughout India during the Victorian period. This exploration lead to the discovery of thousands of species of exotic plants, previously unknown to Britain. The restaurant is adorned in an eclectic mix of splendid Scottish heritage Harris tweed fabric, Victorian steampunk in zinc, copper and brass and warm rich teak wood with Victorian period scientific curiosities decorating walls and shelves. And if the flavours of India have you momentarily imagining yourself dining in a Rajastan Palace, the very familiar and reassuring sight of a British Telecom Phone Box placed in the corner will reassure you that you are indeed here in ‘Good Ol’ Blighty’!
The menu has been specially created to feature modern and innovative takes on beloved Indian flavours and fine British ingredients. Centred around sharing plates the menu uses thoughtful spicing and beautiful local ingredients.
We started our flavour journey with the kurmure okra fries with chaat masala and lemon - a sibling (perhaps) of the more familiar fried zucchini - but with much more flavour and punch.
Next up was our seviya chicken wings served with tangy spring onion dip and charred cipolini onion - literally finger licking good! The more familiar Indian dish of grilled lamb chops were truly succulent perhaps thanks to being perfectly seasoned and using the finest Suffolk lamb.
Our choice for the obligatory lentils saw us try a slow cooked black lentil and kidney bean curry that was spiced beautifully and although eaten by an accompanying naan could just have easily been devoured by the spoonful.
An item I had never previously tried in an Indian restaurant was duck so this offering had me intrigued. They serve a slow-cooked duck leg on the bone and temper with coconut and Indian spices - something we truly enjoyed and will try to emulate at home if we feel culinarily courageous.
Traditional rice choices and fresh cooked naan complement the food and an abundance of side dishes and vegetarian options are also on offer.
Our experience was not only fabulous due to the innovative food and decor but thanks to the exceptional service offered by friendly and attentive staff that helped us make informed menu selections and recommending a variety of their fabulous and creative cocktails.
242 Old Brompton Road
London, SW5 0DE0