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24 Oct 23: Paro - Paro for the courses


This was another free one, courtesy of the lovely Caroline. She was invited to sample the latest opening from young Chef Niaz who has made a name for himself by elevating his City Spice to Brick Lane's number one spot.

The entrepeneurial chef is only 23 years old but has made waves in the London curry scene through his modern take on traditional Indian dishes. But the stakes are a little higher in London's Covent Garden, competing with staples like Dishoom and Masala Zone for the pre-theatre crowd, and Fatt Pundit and Tandor Chop House for those seeking twists on the traditional Indian curry house menu.

Paro is the name of the new venture and promises to be 'not just about food; it's about memories, emotions, and a shared passion'. A big promise that we hoped it  would deliver on for our visit.


Paro's entrance can be found on the corner of Wellington Street and Exeter Street and forms the ground floor of the Lyceum theatre. The main foyet area is a work in progress, intended to be a lively bar to compete with Be At One opposite. Its current form isn't far off, with a tasteful bar and seating area present, but the promised sound system missing. Whether this vision is completed soon or not, it should help attract more punters off the streets in a way that the hidden restaurant windows along Exeter Street do not. 

Fortunately, once inside, the space opens up into a very welcoming dining space, accessed via a vibrantly painted corrider, complete with a jungle scene and showpiece Bengal tiger or two. 

From the Lion King plains of Africa in the theatre upstairs, to the forests of India downstairs, and our tiger king, Chef Niaz. He greeted us at the door wearing a dazzlingly white jumper that had us reaching for imaginary Vanish bottles at the thought of him also working in the kitchen wearing the very same. 

He showed us to our seats - a plush brown leather booth matched throughout the large restaurant floor  with similarly toned furniture. But this is far from a sea of beige, with white pillars and walls adorned with pronged-leaf plaster casts from India reflected in the green plastic foilage hanging from above.

In its entirety, it's a generous space, ideal for attracting and navigating the evening and weekend theatre crowds and tourists that are sure to be the main passing trade.


Starters and sides

Poppadoms x2

Toddy Shop Tiger Prawn

Honeyed Mango Chickpeas

Pilau Rice

Calcutta Naan

The first sign that Paro offers something a little different came with the poppadoms in the shape of a desicated coconut side. This was a nice change, akin to the filling of a peshwari naan, and hinted at the further sweetness to come, but it could perhaps have done with a spicier partner for the poppadoms. The toddy shop tiger prawns did bring a bit of heat to proceedings along with a meaty, butterflied prawn crunch and deliciously caremelized onions and peppers. This dish had a rather sweet and sour feel, and the honeyed mango chickpeas - another unusual starter - also had a sugary tamarind glaze. This was perhaps a step too sweet for me, especially with its pomegranate seed garnish, but was still enjoyable with a nice al dente bite to the peas.

Finishing off the starters and sides, we had pilau rice and caluctta naan. The bread was a nice, fluffy, buttery number but nothing special enough to elevate things beyond a 7/10.



Gunpowder Lamb

Nani-Jaan Chicken

For mains it was just two curries, Chef Niaz's grandmother's signature curry - the Nani-Jaan chicken, and the Gunpowder lamb. The chicken was again on the sweeter side with tamarind coming through strongly in the tomato curry, alongside heaps of chicken tikka pieces, and a further pomegranate seed top. The Gunpowder curry was a minced lamb (keema) variety, which is always a nice change, and came sprinkled with chives. It carried a warming heat with it too, but neither curry was too memorable, meaning its just a steady 7 for Curry here.



With the head chef serving us we were slightly spoilt in the service department. Otherwise, smartly dressed waiters also provided prompt delivery of our items, but didn't offer too much beyond that. This was a fair showing for service, nothing more.


Value for money

We were fortunate enough to get our meal for free on this ocassion but usually Paro's prices are a little higher than average on account of its location. You can still take advantage of a price drop yourself, with 25% off food til March 2024, however, I'm not sure if the food would be quite worth it without it. The quality of the food is good, portion sizes fair, but I wasn't left wanting more. I worry that the discount is a sign of them struggling to get the footfall needed to stay afloat and unless the menu is spiced up a little I feel more is needed to prove Paro's value for money.



In general, this was a pleasant if not the memorable curry experience promised. The innovation on the menu is more Brick Lane curry 2.0 than anything more exciting and perhaps there's a youthful and inexperienced naivety to the chef, who's menu twists feel less subtly constructed than the best. However, Chef Niaz deserves to do well, and more exciting options may be coming given his other ventures include a vegan, Indian cookbook. He told us he was balancing feedback from those looking for more authentic Calcuttan fare versus his desire for something a litte more modern.  I don't think he's quite struck this balance just yet, but Paro is still an exciting new curry spot, with pleasant atmosphere and an ambitious young chef at the helm who will no doubt continue to do well. Go wish him all the best yourself sometime soon!



Address: 21 Wellington St, London WC2E 7DN

Cuisine: Indian

Status: Open​

Alcohol Policy: Licensed​

Price: £££​

Summary: Elevated 'Brick Lane' Anglo-British curry mixed with some authentic, Calcuttan dishes

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