February 2016, Our Lunch When planning our holiday to Fuerteventura and London in January/February 2016 we wanted to try a Michelin stared restaurant during our full day in London. We had three favorites and had to make a decision. We studied the menus and decided to book a table for lunch at Benares. || BENARES || RESTAURANT AND BAR || 1* MICHELIN STAR || CHEF: ATUL KOCHHAR || OUR LUNCH || BERKELEY SQUARE || LONDON || ENGLAND || UK || OUR HOLIDAY : OBSERVATIONS AND IMPRESSIONS || JANUARY : FEBRUARY 2016 || by UggBoy UggGirl, on Flickr The chef patron is Atul Kochhar and his restaurant Benares holds 1* Michelin star. The restaurant is named after the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi, which was also called Benares. Benares is located at Berkeley Square in the Berkeley Square House which offers an unassuming façade for this grand restaurant. Reception is located on the ground floor as well as the cloak room. We were greeted with a warm Namaste and brought upstairs to the dining room. It was divided into a larger space with a bar, private dining and a smaller, quieter room. We were in the furthest most private section and appreciated it. At first there weren’t many fellow diners. It picked up and by the time we left each table was taken in the restaurant which created a good buzz. The design was sultry with low lightning and photographs of Varanasi on the walls which added a touch of originality and authenticity. One waiter was designated to us. He took our order and also made recommendations. We decided to have a three course meal with Jing Tea Pairing, a bottle of water and two cocktails. A greeting from the kitchen were mini poppadoms with different chutneys. We liked the slightly spicy one best out of the three on offer. The first tea was a Jing Jasmine Silver Needle Cold Infusion. As the description implied it was served cold and was nicely refreshing. Our starters were Paneer and Black Quinoa Croquettes with a Walnut Sesame Chutney and the Tandoori Lemongrass Infused Corn Fed Poussin with a Young Leafy Salad. The textures of the croquettes were interesting and the chutney added nice flavors. The poussin was an excellent choice with the flavors very subtle, but satisfying. The tea served was a Lemongrass and Ginger Hot Infusion. It was one of our favorites and paired perfectly well with the appetizers. It reminded us of teas we have enjoyed in Thailand for example. Our main courses were chargrilled Cauliflower and Broccoli with Tomato, Fenugreek Gravy. The cauliflower and broccoli were on the one side tender, but had a good bite too. The spice mix made it exciting. The matching tea and our favorite was the Nilgiri Frost and was a black tea. It had very good flavors and rounded up our meal to wonderful effect. Our desserts were Rose Panna Cotta with Peppered Strawberry and Carrot Halwa and Cake with Mandarin Ice Cream. It was accompanied by Masala Chai. The chai was a surprise. We had previous experiences with chai and they came normally with milk. This one didn’t. The spices were subtle and it was very enjoyable. The desserts were colorful, lavish and light. Our waiter was very well aware of our allergies and dietary requirements and advised us, that my fiancé shouldn’t try my dessert because it contained raisins. We had been in e-mail contact before about our needs, so we didn’t have to mention them during our meal again. This was very impressive in our eyes. Our cocktails (one alcoholic, the other non-alcoholic) were served after our meal. He had the Cherry Kiss containing Wyborowa Vodka shaken with muddled Maraschino cherries, Visciolata Cherry Wine, Paan Liquor, Passion fruit Puree and Gomme Syrup. My Winter’s Dream included lemon grass, lemon juice, rose syrup, lychee juice and homemade orange bitters. We liked the presentation and flavors of the cocktails. We would want them to try again, they’re superb. An older gentleman from the neighboring table was intrigued and wanted to know about the cocktails we enjoyed. He also ordered my fiancé’s poussin and when it arrived the waiter told him: “Here is your chicken.” We were a bit surprised by the visit and the “chicken”. Before it was time for the invoice we received petite fours. They were inspired by Valentine’s Day, since it was the next day and our lunch visit was part of the Valentine’s weekend. We loved them. The bill was 140.57 GBP (ca. 177.90 Euro or ca. 199.70 USD). Our meal exceeded our expectations and was totally different from the Indian cuisine we are normally used to. We would return again. Would we recommend this restaurant to a friend for lunch/ dinner? YES! Would we want to enjoy lunch/dinner at this restaurant again in our future? YES!