Welcome to our Dining Beyond Zone 1 series of restaurant reviews, dedicated to seeking out quality local places to dine beyond the frenzy of Central London.
Who’d have known that a westbound District line service could take you so far east? It’s a superb Vietnamese restaurant, a couple of Chinese eateries and a Thai ‘lounge bar’ which dominate the stretch of vibrant King Street close to Ravenscourt Park tube.
Potli is the latest Asian on the block, replacing a shabby tandoori grill with an Indian that’s about as far from a curry house as you can get.
A cosy square of restaurant space is adorned with Indian knickknacks, tribal masks and nostalgic paintings. Vibrant reds and rich browns add a feeling of authenticity and back up the warmth of the staff’s welcome as they show us to the table and take the time to explain the restaurant’s concept of bringing regional Indian food, which has been passed down through generations, into London.
In case you’re needing something other than superb hospitality to heat up your wintery London cockles, then be assured that a chilli & ginger martini has the requisite fire by the barrel-load, and that’s just one of many classic and spiced-up cocktails available alongside a large list of wines, beers and spirits. Told you this wasn’t your average curry house.
The good news for anyone toying with the concept of a January detox is that Potli’s food is noticeably lacking in the greasiness and high oil content of many of their counterparts. The bad news is that the extensive menu of regional specials does encourage greediness. Well, it does if you’re us, anyway.
After polishing off a basket of pappadums served with homemade chutneys including a punchy beetroot creation, we dig into one of the best versions we’ve tried of one of our all-time favourite Indian dishes – a bhelpuri which consists of puffed rice mixed with roasted peanuts, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and a rich tamarind relish.
The gluttony that ensues includes some pleasingly tender masala lamb chops boldly spiced with fresh ginger, characteristically oozy stir-fried okra laced with mango powder, king prawns cooked in banana leaves (which renders them amazingly soft, as they’ve effectively been steamed), a Kerala fish curry made with tilapia, some creamy black dhal, a couple of keema naans and a spiced paneer kebab. We reckon that list could well be sung to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas.
There was only kulfi on offer for dessert on our visit, so we thought we’d honour our pained stomachs and give it a miss. We understand there’s usually some specials on available which are worth trying, though. Perhaps we’ll make that our excuse to return.
With dishes starting from just £3 and staying well under the £10 mark, a blow-out meal needn’t blow the budget. Get in there whilst you can, because for our money Potli’s definitely up there with some of London’s best known Indian restaurants, and it’s only the prices that haven’t yet caught up.
Potli is at 319-321 King Street, W6 9NH. Visit their website for more details.