My Visit to Colonel Saab, the Luxury London Restaurant
Colonel Saab – A tapestry of culture, cuisine and gratitude
Food at Colonel Saab is a unique expression of Indian cuisine. An extraordinary combination of flavours, fabulous presentation and remarkable signature dishes along with street food favourites. The award-winning, fine-dining Indian restaurant launched an exciting six-course tasting menu in celebration of its successful first anniversary this October. I went along to sample the new Memsaab Tasting Menu.
Colonel Saab, an atmospheric restaurant represents a tapestry of culture, cuisine and appreciation of India. I dined under the somewhat whimsical eclectic sparkles of a forest of chandeliers, surrounded by an exceptional and meticulously curated decor designed as an ode to India while taking a journey through India’s incredible cultural cuisine and cocktails.
Colonel Saab Restaurant
This white-tablecloth restaurant is located in the heart of fashionable and affluent Holborn, London, an area once home to famous residents including Charles Dickens, an English writer.
This impressive eatery sits within the iconic former Holborn Town Hall Grade II listed building. Situated within a stone’s throw is the buzzing area of opera and theatreland, Covent Garden, the lively Soho and the Inns of Court, the traditional home of the legal profession. Its ideal location makes a perfect destination for an after-work drink or a cocktail before the theatre by couples, families, colleagues and friends.
The Story of Colonel Saab
Colonel Saab is a contemporary high-end Indian restaurant shaped by Roop Partap Choudhary with a heart-warming story behind it. Roop created this impressive restaurant as a gracious act of gratitude to his parents and his childhood in India. The restaurant takes the name, ‘Colonel Saab’ which was bestowed upon his father, Colonel Manbeer when he served in the Indian Army. Being in the Indian Army meant that Roop’s father was posted to various destinations in India and Roop, along with his mother, travelled across India, experiencing the rich diversity of food.
Inspired by his journeys, Roop Choudhary meticulously curated the Colonel Saab menu, with some Indian regional specialities and curated dishes. Along with the cuisine, he has created a unique ‘drawing room’ for guests to enjoy the hospitality of his culture.
Colonel Saab’s dining space
The dining space is splendidly decorated. Much of the decor is inspired by the various homes Roop grew up in. Colonel Saab displays elaborate and exquisite antiques as well as artwork with several uniquely designed chandeliers in pale rosy pink suspended from the ceiling. Exquisite silver temple doors, portraits of missionaries, centuries old tea chests and drinks cabinets. The walls are adorned with a collection of objects and portraits of previous generations. These have been collected by Roop’s parents during their various stays throughout India, carefully preserved, with much love and attention — you can tell.
The atmosphere exudes a sense of adventure which is captivating and tugs you to delve deeper to uncover its cloistered meanings. The objects are brought to life by the stories behind them and the warmth of family feel. There is a wonderful atmosphere of personal touches sprinkled around the space. One touching example is the love letter Roop’s parents had exchanged when his father first joined the Indian army.
Colonel Saab certainly has the drawing room feel. The restaurant is cosy, intimate and unhurried. Occupying a large dining space over two floors, the restaurant offers private dining rooms for special occasions and can accommodate up to two-hundred guests.
Memsaab Tasting Menu
Colonel Saab launched their new Memsaab Tasting Menu recently in honour of Roop’s mother. Encompassing a progressive six-course tasting menu, paired with diligently curated cocktails with a base of vodka, whisky or gin. According to the General Manager of Colonel Saab, each dish, has a story which he generously shared with us during this tasting session. I shall share just a couple of these stories with you.
Our six-course dishes were delicious and were a journey of discovery of the simple yet rich Indian culture and cuisines.
**Please click on the images to learn more about the food item.
Mall Road’s Dahi Sev Puri — a specially curated puri infused with yoghurt, a mild sweet and tangy sauce served on a bed of special ‘Bombay’ mix, topped with rose petals.
The story: Dahi Sev Puri is a common dish which is found from the very north to the very south of India. Usually sold by street vendors, it comes in varying forms. The Sev Puri served at Colonel Saab is modified and created to a unique recipe.
Chilli Mogo — Crispy fried yuca in a soy and tamarind sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served on a delightful piece of banana leaf. This was an unusual combination of sweet and tangy. The subtle aroma of the fresh banana leaf was a lovely touch.
The story: Chilli Mogo represents the confluence of African, Chinese and Indian heritage in one. Yuca or cassava is a contribution of African culture, blended with soy, a condiment popular in Chinese dishes and tamarind from Indian culture. Chilli Mogo is prevalent in southern India and unlikely to be found in any other regions of India.
*Perfectly paired with Southside, a gin based cocktail.
Kandhari Paneer Tikka — a Vegan dish in a splendid marriage of cottage cheese infused with prunes, served with pomegranate in tomato garlic mustard sauce. The sauce was different and nice, and went well with the paneer.
My friend had the Anglo Indian Chicken Chop. I tried a little of it and must say, I preferred it to the vegan dish. The Anglo Indian chicken chop was a perfect medley of pulled chicken in Madras spice served on a bed of salad accompanied by a unique tomato and raisin relish.
*Paired with rosé.
Then came the mango sorbet, before the main dish.
For our main, I opted for the Vegan and my friend had the meat dish. I couldn’t help but try a piece of the meat as well.
Falahari Kofta Curry is a blend of beetroot and raisin in mild curry served with khameeri roti. It was flavoursome and delicious. The roti was freshly made, warm, tender and light with sprinkles of flax seeds.
Sunday Lamb Curry is a unique dish and a favourite in India, I am informed. Tender, textured, flavoursome and palatable. This hearty dish was served with steamed rice and lightly spiced baby potatoes.
*Expertly paired with a whisky based cocktail.
For desserts, we had raspberry tart and Malpua waffles, culminating a perfect end to a wonderful experience.
My opinion on Memsaab Tasting Menu
The common thread that runs through most Indian cuisine is the use of numerous spices to create flavour and aroma. Some Indian dishes are fiery with a burning taste of spices, while some others seem to get it just right with the spice, tang, flavour, and texture to tickle your palate. Colonel Saab is one in the latter category for me.
The fusion of spices exudes a rich and flavourful taste of a variety of dishes from diverse regions of India. The bright and bold colours of the food spoke to its freshness. The sight and aroma of the food’s own special fragrance was uniquely enticing, bringing with it the gentle and tender spices, savoury and sweet taste in every bite. To top it off, were the many little touches including the rose petals, the banana leaves and the simplicity yet grand presentation of the dishes. Some looked too pretty to eat.
I enjoyed all of the dishes. It is a difficult choice to make as to which dish would top the rest. If I have to choose, it would be the Anglo Indian Chicken Chop and the Vegan dish, Falahari Kofta Curry served with the freshly made roti.
I recommend that you try the Memsaab Tasting Menu.
Colonel Saab — a colourful tapestry of culture, cuisine and gratitude by Roop Choudhary brings the best of India’s iconic dishes to the ‘Big Smoke‘. Using traditional culinary techniques and tastes, dishes are examplified into distinct savoury favourites and comforting delights.
The captivating decor is a perfect combination of vibrant colours, intricate designs and iconic objects. There is a story behind each of them that makes Colonel Saab a unique place to be. Be sure to indulge in the captivating atmosphere, the fiery sense of adventure and decipher the hidden meanings.
With excellence and comfort along with hospitality that only the Indian culture knows how, Colonel Saab is a unique venue offering an extensive menu including tiffin options.
Dining beneath the splendour of uniquely crafted chandeliers, the gentle Jazz music in the background along with happy vibes interwoven with the aroma of our meal was a wonderful experience.
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*While I was a guest of Colonel Saab, the views and opinions expressed in this article are my own which I gladly share with my readers.
193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD
Set within a 3-minute walk from Holborn, the nearest Underground station.
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