Sunday 4 March 2012

Babur, Brockley Rise, South London

A contemporary, almost futuristic, take on the traditional curry house, Babur is an eye-catching designer restaurant. Through the all-glass doors, is a long, narrow dining room divided up by blonde wood partitions and enclosed by bare brick walls.While the tables, chairs and lighting are sleek and modern, there are also some ethnic Indian touches, such as the ornately carved wooden mirror frames. The carefully-constructed ambiance is only marred by the occasional rendition of "Happy Birthday" played over the speaker system. Babur's menu is also imaginative and thoughtful - many of the dishes listed, such as "Laverstoke Park buffalo lal maas", are unusual, but they are well-explained and are accompanied by a specific wine recommendation. If you prefer beer, a very large bottle of cold Cobra costs £4.50.

Beetroot - a recurring ingredient
As an appetiser, you can munch your way through a pile of poppadoms, with a selection of four lively chutneys (about £1.25 per person). One of the best starters has to be the venison chapli (about £8), which contains spring onions and peppers and is served with creme fraiche and beetroot. (At Babur, beetroot seems to be a recurring ingredient). These meaty chapli have a great combination of flavours. Less successful are the ugly goat patties, which are a bit dense and lack flavour. The vegetable beggar's purse - pastry filled with paneer, cashews, potato and peas - is also a bit small, bland and disappointing for almost £7. Among the mains, the chicken biryani (£13.95), served in a sealed pot with lots of rice, is very good and very filling - you probably won't need the slightly-dry naan bread (a mixed basket, including laccha paratha, garlic nan and roti costs £4.25). The sea bream (£14.25), with curry leaf mash, is fresh, but lacks a little zing. Service is very attentive, to the point where the waiters fill up your glasses for you. All in all, Babur is a little pricey for a curry house in Forest Hill, but it does offer a refreshing twist on the Indian restaurant experience. 7/10