A new south Indian restaurant has opened on Baker Street, headed by the ex-head chef of two Michelin-starred London restaurants. Ooty opened 14 February at 66 Baker Street, the former site of Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, which closed in February 2018.
Chef Manmeet Singh Bali was head chef at Rasoi in Chelsea, which rebranded to Vineet Bhatia London in 2017 and closed, shockingly, in 2018, just a week after regaining the Michelin star that Rasoi held for 12 years. Together with debut restaurateurs Pooja Nayak and Aseela Goenka, Singh Bali will run a two floor “fine dining” operation, comprising Ooty, Ooty Station — a more casual, all-day dining space — and Ooty Club, a “colonial-style basement bar.” Ooty is a small hill station and town in Tamil Nadu, south India, but the restaurant’s offering looks to range across Keralan and Goan cuisines, as well as the regional variations between communities in Tamil Nadu.
Ooty, the restaurant proper and first to open, promises Tellicherry crab fry with a coconut crab relish and tomato chutney, the emphasis on coconut typical of Kerala. This sits alongside a Goan chicken cafreal — a style introduced by Portuguese colonisers and indentured African soldiers — and a Keralan lime lobster. These dishes will be joined by the likes of fennel lamb shoulder, with pine nuts and pickled baby shallots, as “the kitchen will also feature a griddle.”
The main restaurant’s interiors will feature a — Instagram-aligned — “faux-foliage statement wall,” while the downstairs bar’s colonial theme will be represented through paintings, globes, and carved wooden furniture. Drinks take inspiration from Ooty landmarks, including a famous rose garden housing 20,000 varieties. The drink, named Rose Garden, will, presumably, taste of rose.
Co-founder Aseela Goenka said: “We both have fond memories of the delicious, aromatic cuisine and fresh fish from childhood holidays to south India and, whilst we do enjoy curries, baltis and butter chicken dishes, we wanted to focus on the cuisine of the south to show that Indian food is so much more than this!”
Ooty opens 14 February on soft launch, with 50 percent off food; Ooty Station will open spring/summer 2019. More soon.