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Pahli Hill

28 July 23: Pahli Hill - A mountain of flavour


They say never look a gift horse in the mouth, a phrase meaning, not to question the value of a gift. The phrase comes from the practice of valuing a horse by its teeth. It's also where the phrase long in the tooth comes from, and yours truly is definitely too long in the tooth to turn down a free curry. 

Yes, once again I have been blessed with a friend with connections, afterall, it's not what you know, but who. The lovely Caroline, a food industry journalist invited me to share a chef's table tasting menu with her - apparently a necessary part of her job (the neccesity questionable given I took more notes than she did). And it was quite fitting that the location was Pahli Hill, an excting new Indian restaurant that has taken up residence on the site of Gaylord - somewhere I enjoyed a free tasting menu nearly a decade ago.

Amazingly, until this point, Pahli Hill was barely on my radar, but, as a Michelin Bib Gourmand holder and residence of esteemed Great British Menu 2023 chef Avinash Shashidhara, I was certainly excited at he prospect. Fortunately, it didn't let us down.


Pahli Hill is named after the affluent neighbourhood in Mumbai and found just north of Oxford Street on Mortimer Street. It's a fairly recent addition to the London scene and comes with a reputation given the Michelin accolade already bestowed upon it and the reknown of its head chef. There's also the hidden bonus of the Bandra Bai cocktail bar downstairs which adds an extra dimension to this boujee eatery.

We were sat at the chef's table as per the tasting menu experience, affording us both insight into each dish, but also a front row seat of the open kitchen, transparently demonstrating the care and attention paid to each dishes preparation, most notably the chicken tikka meticulously monitored in and out of the tandoor on long skewers.

As for the rest of the dining space, it wasn't particularly to my tastes, but was certainly fairly refined and befitting of the fine dining experience. The overall vibe is relaxed, hotel lounge with a contemporary edge, and an array of colours and soft furnishings match the range of pan-Indian dishes on the menu. However, the modern artwork is a bit too quirky for my liking and the whole palette a little garish too.


Starters and sides

Mangalore Bun & Scottish Crab Sukkha

Papadi Chat


Pahli Hill Tandoori Chicken Tikka

On to the main business, and first on our chef's table tasting menu were a number of small plates. As per the tasting menu, our items were smaller than usual, but upon observation the standard portions were more than generous.

First up was the mangalore bun and crab sukkha, a delectable bite in a sort of pani puri style, but with a soft, Yorkshire pudding-esque bun made from banana puree batter rather than a crunchy shell. The crab on top was equally delightful with a red chilli and coconut Mangalorean sukkha coating to the meat completing an equisite starter.

Similar in size and format, but with a chilli fontina cheese bread base was the mushroom kulcha - a wild mushroom and truffle topped blini style pancake. Not as exciting, and with the truffle flavour overpowering any spicy cheese taste it wasn't quite up to scratch with the crab.

Next came the signature Great British Menu papadi chaat, replete with a gruffalo themed prop from the show. Looking past the gimmicky accoutrements, the chaat itself was a vibrant mix of yoghurt, tomato, beetroot, mint and tamarind. The zing of the tamarind really shone through and the beetroot added a nice point of difference from typical papadi chaats. A solid dish, well executed with original flourishes.

A final, complimentary addition, courtesy of the chef, came in the form of the house signature chicken tikka. Having watched it be lovingly prepared we weren't going to say no and it tasted as good as it looked. This was the certainly the best chicken tikka I've had - beautifully marinated for 24 hours and complimented perfectly by a coriander, mint and cucumber salad that is not too be missed.

A unique mango lassi vodka cocktail was a further bonus on what were thoroughly enjoyable starters. Let down a touch by the mushroom kulcha, it was still an excellent showing and set the wheels in motion for the even better dishes to come.



Chargrilled Cornish Lamb Rump

Grilled Cornetto Peppers

Chargrilled Scottish Langoustines

Wild Sea Bass Steamed in Banana Leaf

Ridged Zucchini & Bottle Gourd Kofta

Homestyle Chicken Curry

Cornish Lamb Biryani

The next two rounds of dishes came under the titles of Tandoor & Grill, and Big Plates. The lamb rump and grilled peppers came together and exemplified beauty in simplicity. The cornetto peppers may not have looked like much but a hemp seed, tahini type dip added the perfect chilli kick from its bhaang jeera spice to the sweetness of the softened veg. Sitting alongside these, the lamb rump was equally complemented by its side of minty raita, whilst the meat itself was beautifully tender with a succulent fatty edge.

The chargrilled langoustines were lightweight in contrast to the plump lamb and lacking in flavour as a result, but their seafood partner of wild sea bass steamed in banana leaf more than made up for it. So good we forgot to take a photo before wolfing it down, the chunky white fish came with a green mango chutney that added pop whilst crispy fried potato sticks added the snap and crackle to this wonderful take on fish and chips.

Finally came the biryani, two curries, and accompanying parata. The bread was buttery but drier than the best, but far from the same could be said of the moist lamb biryani, complete with sides of chunky raita and an immense peanutty and sesamy salan. The two curries were also perfected as we'd come to expect. The chicken curry was average in name only with the excellent chicken thighs matching the quality of the earlier tikka, and bathed in a bitter fenugreek and spicy green chilli  sauce. The depths of the zucchini and bottle gourd kofta curry were also notable, with the unusual but welcome vegetable kofta patties immersed in a light cashew cream, with saffron and toasted pine nut notes.

All round, it was an incredible showing from the main dishes completing a wonderful meal with a real range and depth of authentic and pan-Indian textures and flavours. Wonderful.



As you would expect from a chef's table dining experience, the service we received was elevated above the norm. We enjoyed conversation with the head chef and complimentary drinks. I can only judge it on what we received, but would expect a similar, above average experience for every diner given the fine dining environment. It's therefore an 8 for Service.


Value for money

Pahli Hill isn't the cheapest, but neither will it break the bank. This is affordable fine dining for most Londoners on a treat. The value comes not from the prices, but portion sizes and quality of the food. I could take or leave the interior design, but there's no denying the overall experience. Yes, the tasting menu will set you back a fair chunk, but the a la carte dishes are more in line with the likes of Gunpowder or Darjeeling Express (although Avi did not like this comparison from me, despite the similar home-style cooking!). Whatever you pay it will be well worth it for the signature dishes at the very least.



Pahli Hill comes with great views and is certainly one you want to climb! This is fine Indian dining with a real comforting feel. The dishes are cooked and presented with love, and are hearty enough to satisfy most appetites. The chicken tikka and sea bass in particular are stand out plates.

Despite head chef Avi's disagreement, I would still say the closest comparison in London is Darjeeling Express given the more homely feel and pan-Indian flavours. And I would argue this is a worthy accolade given the popularity and fame of Asma Khan's diner. In fact, it's surprising that Pahli Hill hasn't quite reached the same notoreity, but that may soon change. Pahli Hill is well worth a visit and I'd happily return - probably on my own coin next time ;)


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Address: 79-81 Mortimer St, London W1W 7SJ

Cuisine: Fine Indian Dining

Status: Open​

Alcohol Policy: Licensed​

Price: £££​

Summary: 'Home-style' pan-Indian cuisine

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