Hankies – I know a weird name for an Indian restaurant but the actual Hankie is about a classic Indian Roti handspun till it’s thin enough to see through cooked on a burning hot roomali tawa and splendidly folded like a cotton hankie. This comes with a delicious tomato-ey hot spicy dipping sauce or there’s a truffle roomali with cheese and spinach which is kind of exquisite. This is Delhi Street food but in a rather chic Indian restaurant in Marble Arch as part of the Montcalm Hotel. You see the roomali’s being handmade just like you would in a Delhi street fair except you’ve got a gorgeous room with a spectacular lighting and subtle chic vaguely Indian décor.
I’m a fan of the Indian food. I can eat a lot of it because it’s delicious. I see it as comfort food but after a certain point, it is overpowering. Except not if you’re in Hankies. Not if you’re having Indian tapas. I know, revolutionarily good. Everything on the menu is small plates for sharing – one shares Indian food anyway so it just means there are more choices and they’re all touched by Gods and Goddesses. From the first section of street bites, we had the Bhindi Bell, okra, onion, tomato, rice puffs tossed in minted tamarind. Just talking the ingredients are floating my taste buds back there. We’re talking delicate okra, tiny rice puffs and a magical tamarind.
From the grill, we had tiny bite-size portions of Chicken Tikka. Chicken Tikka is a highly competitive dish. The number one food in Britain at one point. This is tender, delicate, sweet and spicy and mouth melty and also compact. We also went for a marinated salmon. It was honeyed and ever so subtly spicy and perfectly juicy. There’s another section called From The pan where we had a crab and potato masala and a pilau rice with juicy prawns. There was a mushroom Kofta in a creamy sauce which was piquant, luxurious, splendid and I love spicy cream.
For dessert – yes we actually had room – there were small but gorgeous portions of homemade kulfi. We went for pistachio and coconut along with pineapple carpaccio, thin layers of spiced pineapple. All of this is so delicately packaged you could eat the whole menu but if you decided to stop after say three dishes you would find it amazingly reasonably priced. Each dish is around £5.00 and even the cocktails are around £5.00. There are some wonderful cocktails which include the Indian Swizzle – rum, pineapple, angostura’s with Hanie’s homemade velvet falernum – a kind of homemade ginger gorgeousness. But my favourite cocktail was the mango lassi spiked with golden rum. I have to admit something here. I’ve been putting vodka in lassi since I was a teenager. I’ve always thought it was the perfect cocktail – sweet, fulfilling and alcoholic. The kind of alcohol you don’t taste but you feel. The golden rum and the golden mango were a divine duo that danced in the mouth and the senses.
My evening was spent with an old friend catching up so we had many courses to do that. The food arrived in a perfectly timely fashion not too much all at once but we were never left feeling hungry. The service was informed, delightful and caring. It’s absolutely a go-to place. I left full enough to be satisfied but dreaming of the day that I would go back.
Hankies Marble Arch, The Montcalm Hotel, 2 Wallenberg Pl, Marylebone, London W1H 7TN