As we all start to awaken from our Lockdown slumbers and start to venture out into the wild and back into our favourite eateries, there’s no mistaking my social media has certainly being hijacked by people enjoying their socialising and dining experiences. Recently, this little gem, Grand Trunk Road kept popping up on my feed followed by nothing but praise from the numerous amounts of people I have seen posting about it. This spot looks particularly special and before the fomo kicked in I had to check it out for myself.
If Grand Trunk Road is the hidden gem of Woodford this is certainly the Koh-I-Noor of restaurants. Many of us can rattle off a host of fabulous Indian restaurants at the drop of a hat, but the most memorable ones are distinguished by giving their guests an experience to remember and that is exactly what Grand Trunk Road has done. It’s not surprising everyone seems to be raving about this place.
Owned by the esteemed Michelin star winner Rajesh Suri, he tells me he wanted to create a dining experience which took guests on a journey through India by taking a signature dish from each stop along the Grand Trunk Road. An educational one at that, he explained the origins of dishes that have somehow got lost along the way and his quest to bring the dishes back to their roots.
Before we get stuck into the food, I must give a shoutout to the drinks list which is extensive. So if like me you prefer something a little more fancy than beer or house wine… look no further, the cocktails are a dream and also follow the journey of the Grand Trunk Road. We tried the Afghani Silk and a particular favourite, Masala Smash. We were told that the cocktails were specially created to match the flavours of the dishes with some spirits infused onsite to create the unique flavours that can only be achieved by tending to the process yourself. There is no doubt Suri is a stickler for detail and this shows through every stage of the guest experience.
Our journey began where every Indian foodie does, Poppadum’s with a variety of accompaniments made fresh on site with seasonal ingredients. The Summer menu we’re told includes a carrot and raisin relish and one made with apricot and the unmistakable spices of cumin and coconut. A tropical delight and not a chunky onion in sight! Phew. This is definitely Indian food amplified and refined, beautiful and elegant and we haven’t even got to the appetisers yet.
We sampled a few of the standout dishes from the appetisers, Sago Potato Cakes, Scallops and a Chapli Kebab. Each were served with their own signature chutney balanced by only someone with an extremely well versed palate. The flavours are subtle yet bold, yin and yang. The ingredients are quality there is no mistaking that. This is certainly quality over quantity with each mouthful delivering you a little gift each time.
The mains were outstanding too with chef making sure they wanted to balance the spices correctly instead of slapping you across the face with chilli. A plus for me as i’m not a huge fan of spicy hot food. This is Indian cuisine at its finest. We tried the Amritsari Butter Chicken and a Malai Prawn dish and both were out of this world. However, the standout dish had to be the Dal Bukhara essentially overnight Lentils with spices and fenugreek in a creamy sauce. The simplest dishes are most often the most delicious. Creamy, spiced well and comforting. I could have eaten a vat of it. Order this and thank me later.
My guest was particularly impressed with the labelling of allergens on the menu itself. Speaking as someone with a wheat allergy this is still surprisingly hard to come across. This added a level of ease for the guests when looking for something Gluten or Dairy Free. We’re told GF Naan will be added to the menu in the future something which we will be certainly going back to try.
The fine balancing continues not only with the way the food is flavoured but in the entire experience. The quality of the food mixed with ambience of the restaurant is where the magic lies. Suri makes a point of delivering old school hospitality throughout his restaurant by having a dialogue with customers and hosting them the way you would have expected from days of yore. This, we witnessed was well received by the customers dining around us and left everyone feeling that extra bit special a task which Suri appears to have taken in his stride. With a Michelin star under his belt, expectations were always going to be high and you will most certainly not be disappointed.
What’s more, we noticed they had an outdoor dining area so if you’ve just come for a few cocktails with small plates, your wish is their command…
I know i’ve said it before but i’ll say it again we will be back and i’m sure you will too. What a truly wonderful time we had at Grand Trunk Road and thank you to all of the staff who made everyone feel safe in their surroundings as restrictions start to lift once more. So here’s to hospitality and all of those who welcomed us back.
Grand Trunk Road is located in South Woodford
For reservations call 020 8505 1965 or visit https://www.gtrrestaurant.co.uk/