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Est. India

9 January 2024: Est. India - Re-Est.Ablishing its credentials


2024 and the 13th year of the blog was heralded in with a late Christmas gift courtesy of Est. India. Having visited over five years ago, and impressed then by the lamb chops, it was an offer we couldn't refuse - not least to try some of the new menu items. And so it was, that Caroline and yours truly made our way to Flat Iron Square near Borough on a bitterly cold January Tuesday to get some much needed heat.


Flat Iron Square and its culinary offerings are slightly overshadowed by neighbouring Borough Market, but there are a number of gems if you venture a little further west. One of those is Est. India, whose welcoming light flooded onto the square on our visit. A seating area outside held the promise of warmer months, but in January it was quickly inside for us.  Greeting us was traditional curry house music, and fans of the 'typical' British curry house would certainly be at home here. The ambiance is reverent, with modern but relatively austere touches, and as such befitting of the genre. This isn't East Ham or Tooting, this is Indian dining in the periphery of Zone 1 - fit for a business lunch, but equally a collegial night out. 

Little had changed to the decor since our last visit, meaning some signs of age, but certainly nothing tired. The main dining area is still lined with framed, black and white Indian scenes, while trendy metallic lamps mood-light each cover.  Our table was no exception, but we also benefited from one of the two or three booths that offer more comfortable seating in the middle of the room. This area is also overhung by  a tasteful shelf holding spice jars and tiffin tins to add a homely flourish alongside the main feature of wooden stenciled sliding doors. 

This is a pleasant dining experience in Zone 1, and spacious too - a rarity in the nation's increasingly cramped captial. 


Starters and sides


Hara Tandoori King Prawns

Chilli Paneer

Crispy Bhindi

Aloo Paratha

The poppadoms here are some of the best around-  well, not quite a-round, as they come quartered in a basket - but nevertheless, they provide some of the freshest gram cracker crunch about. They're also complimented by some excellent chutnies. The red chilli number had us eulogising after last visit and didn't disappoint again, and neither did the excellent mango chutney - both evidently homemade with care. The raita was also very good, but just not up to the dizzy heights of a crispy dip of the other two.

Following the poppadoms were three starters of which the crispy bhindi was the stand out. Now a regular on London menus, few can rival Est. India's execution. Expertly sized okra pieces, fried in the perfect amount of gram flour batter, provide an exquisite salty bite, and that's without the tangy chilli dip.

Also well constructed were the tandoori king prawns. Presented with two limbs of roasted asparagus the large prawns, small kachumber salad, and sauce flourish painted a rather fanciful plate. It didn't taste too bad either with the charred meat mixing with a bitter green chilli and coriander rub and splashed with zingy lemon to give a flavourful mouthful.

Finally we had a chilli paneer, followed by aloo paratha and pilau rice with the mains. I prefer my chilli paneer drier but this sweet and sour variant won't disappoint. Pretty regulation, but generous in portion it offers good value. Likewise, the spicy mashed potato filling in the glossy-sheened naan bread was liberally applied, proving the breads here to be among the best - not least given the range on offer.



Lamb Pepper Fry (Keralan style)

Kerala Chicken Curry

It was an all Keralan affair for the mains, with a lamb pepper fry and chicken curry. The menu at large is more than extensive though, offering dishes from across India. Others that took my fancy were the North Indian fish hari, bhutani lamb and, of course, last time the hashmiri lamb chops had us purring. 

We've had pepper fry before at the likes of Dosa n Chutney and Hyderabadi Zaiqa in Tooting, with Est. India equalling those superb exemplifiers. The diced lamb slices come in a garlic, green chilli, and spice rub, tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. The result is an aromatic and warming mouthful to add to the pepper's distinct biting quality. Served with succulent fried green peppers and onions this dry-looking dish is far from it.

Less exciting was the chicken curry. We left last time thinking the curries lacked distinction and this Kerala chicken curry was again a little too safe. Lacking the inimitable coconutines of south Indian curries, and signposted by a rouge (if delecately spiced) sauce, this dish highlighted the perhaps over-Anglocised nature of the curries here. The tikka pieces within were a little on the tough side too, so unfortunately still more to be done for the mains to be scored higher than a 7/10.



It's rare that we get friendly waiting staff on this blog, but our waiter here bucked the trend. Yes, we were invited, so we have to take that into account but he was very genial, knowledgeable about how the dishes were made, and discussed London's regional curry hubs with us. As a man living in East Ham he has been (to my shame) under served by this blog, but he gave us a follow anyway. East Ham is definitely on the target list for 2024 so get your recommendations in please!


Value for money

Zone 1 will always be pricier, but, as mentioned, comfort and space are not compromised here. It is a pleasant dining experience with decent food. The starters are reasonably portioned and therefore fairly priced, but relative to elsewhere the mains are still £1 or £2 more than I might expect, even factoring in the current cost of living. Some dishes stood out, but on two visits, I was left wanting more from the curries so I think a 7 for Value is about right.

NB. Est. India has a nice range of craft beers and ale, along with a fairly extensive wine list, but again prices are on the toppier side.



So, it was a welcome return to Flat Iron Square to get the curry blog ball rolling for 2024. Est. India is a congenial dining experience with some great dishes on offer. I'd certainly return for the bhindi and lamb fry, but would like to see slightly more adventurous curries in future. Nevertheless - and pushed up good service and starters - it's a more than respectable 37 in total for Est. India.



Address: Flat Iron Square, 73-75 Union Street, London SE1 1SG

Cuisine: Indian​

Status: Open​

Alcohol Policy: Licensed​

Price: £££​

Summary: Smart, modern Indian restaurant with polished curries and sundries

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