Curry up! – Pushing the boundaries at Veeraswamy

Last Updated on : 3rd February 2022


Opening its doors in 1926, Veeraswamy is London’s oldest Indian restaurant. It is exceptional in many ways, not many Indian restaurants can be found on Regent Street. Not many have a Michelin star. Hardly any I suspect have a doorman or have a dining room that is accessed via a lift. Veersaswamy has all of these, and my expectations for night out had risen to match.

The entrance is on Swallow Street slightly set back from the main thoroughfare, but close to other high end dining experiences such as Bill Bentley’s. The doorman was friendly, though I suspect he took a different line to lager enthusiasts wanting an after last orders biryani to respectable (looking) customers with a 7pm reservation.

I was dining with the nightlife king, and both of us were impressed with the dining room. A spacious Indian themed room situated on the first floor with good views over both southern Regent Street and Swallow Street. It felt luxurious without being overly opulent (a trap I felt that the Ivy Asia had, in its case deliberately, fallen in to.)

By presented with the menu and wine list, given Veeraswamy’s status and reputation I was half expecting a drum roll when I opened them, or at least the sort of music that accompanies virgins into graveyards during the sort of films I watch on Halloween. In the end I was pleasantly surprised, no it’s not cheap, starters go from about £9-£20 and main courses £23-£34.

I settled quickly on a picpoul from the foothills of the wine list, not bothering to peruse the peaks. It was good, dry with a slightly mineral taste. It is a good accompaniment to spicy food, being pleasant but not overwhelming in flavour.

The menu isn’t long, but there is a fair amount of choice. We decided as it was a first visit to go for one of the set choices, the traditional menu. At £45 for 3 courses including rice and naan it does represent a good saving on ordering individually.

To start the only choice is Mulligatawny soup, something I’m not really aware of having previously eaten. Well, if I had it didn’t taste like this. It is served with potato shavings at the base of the bowl that cook whilst you are devouring. I don’t know how to describe the flavour, it is lentil based, but has a touch of sweet and sour about it. When presented with the bowl, I thought there was no way I’d have the appetite or the desire to finish it…the waiter eventually collected a receptacle as parched as the Namib desert.

The main courses arrived shortly after, accompanied by buttered naan breads so light you felt they could float away on a stiff breeze. The rice was as fluffy as class full of teddy bears and both mains as tasty as 100:1 win on an outsider at Newmarket. I had chosen the Rogan Josh, small balls of lamb with saffron in a source as dark as a tax collectors’ heart.

My companion’s prawns were lighter and sweeter than a bird singing at daybreak, and we quickly consumed all that was before us. I even ordered an additional naan to enable us to get as much of the sauce as possible.

The set menu included a dessert, kala jaam, I had no idea what that was either. Having just read a recipe for it, I’m still not sure. I can tell you what it tasted like though, something like a well saturated Rum Baba. Not too big it came with chocolate ice cream and was one of those puddings that you wish you encountered more frequently.

We stayed about 90 minutes and the bill came to about £160, so yes it wasn’t a cheap night out. The food, ambience and service were excellent and as we left with small clouds of spice billowing from our ear holes, we were both convinced that was one of those meals that will be a treasured memory of flavours.

Thanks for reading, and next time more local and budget conscious.


Address: Mezzanine Floor, Victory House
99 Regent Street
London W1B 4RS
(entrance on Swallow Street)


Telephone: 020 7734 1401

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