For the lover of Indian restaurants London has a number of service styles. Some restaurants provide the fine dining experience normally associated with the Indian royal dining table; while others aim for the hustle and colour of a street food stall.
At both ends of the spectrum, core service values remain the same. Indeed, there is a sense in which the Indian restaurant may be said to provide atmosphere and service combined: with the atmosphere set out as noted above and the service quality tying the two together.
The core service value for all Indian restaurants is one of friendliness. The staff at restaurants serving high concept food (like Veeraswamy and Chutney Mary) and the staff cooking in the open kitchen and serving at more lively places like the Masala Zone group, are all required by their management to bring a genuine air of charm and personality to the cooking and delivery of the food.
There are, of course, differences. Looking at high-end Indian restaurants, London restaurant goers will see the friendliness and personality mentioned above filtered through a properly respectful waiting service, just as one would expect from a fine dining establishment serving any kind of cuisine. The legendary triumvirate of Amaya, Chutney Mary and Veeraswamy all provide service of this nature, just as high aiming restaurants serving other cuisines (French; Italian) do.
At “street level”, things can be louder and funkier: but the core service is still there. Staff in a brasserie style Indian restaurant may wear t shirts and aprons rather than suits and ties, but they still have the experience and interest of the customer at heart.
This is another element to the service provided by the Indian restaurant, as noted above. The atmosphere of every genuine Indian restaurant is greatly influenced by a specific style of traditional Indian eating – which, when you look into it, is not normally done in a restaurant. This is why brasserie style establishments favour the open kitchen, and a series of brightly coloured decorative themes. Here, the ambience of the street, the colour and vibe of eating food on street corners and in open cafes, is achieved through a combination of interior design and cooking style.
A fine Indian dining experience may be best analogised either as food that would be prepared and eaten in a gourmet Indian home; or as food that would be prepared for and served to a member of the Royal family. Here, emphasis is also placed on presentation, though from the other end of the spectrum. It is not uncommon to find dishes decorated with gold leaf, and common ingredients turned into extraordinarily dedicated tuiles or other edible pieces of art.
In either case, the experience of eating in real Indian restaurants is a long way removed from the average experience of eating in a curry house. The basic British view of curry as a whole is so far different to the fine dining experiences available from the real thing, that it is very hard to match the two at all.
Jenni is a freelance writer based in Denbighshire. Jenni is a big fan of dining out and Indian restaurants having experienced some of the best Indian restaurants London personally. Jenni enjoys spending time out in the garden and going to the cinema with her partner in her spare time.