Established Indian restaurant Hankies have recently opened their doors in Haymarket and this was our first visit to the latest member of the Hankies family. But before I rolled up at their door I had a burning question what exactly is a Hankie? Well it seems a Hankie is a classic Indian roti which is hand spun until its thin enough to read through, cooked on a burning hot Roomali Tawa and folded into a triangular shape ie ‘hankies’.
Now feeling suitably prepared for the feast ahead, myself and my City friend rolled up at their door. Hankies in Haymarket is a basement bar and restaurant and we were very impressed when we reached the bottom of the staircase and found ourselves in a beautiful artful lobby, I won’t give too much away but I will say it is sure to be very popular on Instagram. We passed through the door into the spacious basement restaurant and bar which is sleek, modern and stylish with more than hint of a New York vibe. The lights were dimmed, the furniture dark and it simply oozed glossy Stateside glamour.
Although the restaurant footprint is very large (170 covers) the space is carefully and cleverly divided into smaller areas so you still experience a feeling of intimacy. Clever modular dividers can be moved around to create smaller or larger spaces with no effort whatsoever, so they can easily cater for sit down dinners or cocktail parties of pretty much any size.
Moving on to the most important matter at hand; the food. Hankies speciality is Delhi Street food so we knew our taste buds were going to be in for a treat. But first things first, it had been a busy week, and so far teetotal, so I thought I deserved a glass of the House Champagne, well a girl has to celebrate from time to time, and I thought that at £9 a glass it was a very reasonable price. My co-reviewer who is someone big in the city settled on a Cobra Beer (don’t ask me who or what he is in the City I have no interest in money apart from the spending of it).
There was such a huge choice of dishes on the menu so we sensibly asked our lovely waitress for her advice. Hankies were, of course a given, we could hardly visit their namesake without wrapping our taste buds around these little packets of spicy goodness. We chose two dishes from the Folded Hankies list, my choice was a melt in the mouth dream Full Dairy Paneerkale ‘n’ Haloumi and his choice was the rather more manly Pulled Lamb Spare Ribs Garlic n Gur Chutney, he particularly liked the addition of the sweet chutney and found this dish quite filling. Both Hankies were, of course, delicious; we thought they looked rather like an Indian version of a Cornish Pasty which did rather surprise me as I was expecting something much lighter, but we discovered in conversation with our host, Jeetu Merai, that the filling would spill out if they weren’t created just that bit more robust – so it’s all down to physics…
We also chose two of the small bites Wild Mushroom KachoriGarden Peas, Truffle Foam, Maple Yoghurt which I really loved – it truly was a work of art and I was almost sorry to bite into it – but it totally lived up to my high expectations with a lovely delicate flavour and was as light as a fairy as well – although City Boy did complain that he couldn’t discern the scent of the truffle but he gobbled it up all the same.
We also tried Paneer ‘SalanHerb Paneer Pardon Pepper Pumpkin Curry which was beautifully light with a mild spicy flavour, I loved it. This was followed by the delicious Dhaba ChickenHens Egg Onion Masala Root Ginger. This was also a light dish absolutely bursting with flavour and was a big hit for both of us.
I think City Boy was craving something a bit more meaty so he moved swiftly on to the Grills and chose to indulge himself with Chilli Lamb ChopsCashmiri Chillies Carraway Avocado Chutney. The lamb was perfectly cooked and very tender, it was also the spiciest dish we tried, but the Avocado Chutney was the perfect cooling accompaniment – it was thoroughly enjoyed and soon only well-knawed bones were left on the plate.
Last but by no means least we chose Butter ChickenPulled Tandoori Chicken ButteryTomato Sauce Fenugreek. We learnt that the chicken was marinaded on the bone and the flavour was exceptional; the creamy sauce was also quite divine. We had also ordered, at the very last minute, some Roomali Roti Aka “Hankies” which were perfect for mopping up the last dregs of the delicious sauce.
We were quite respite, but I simply cannot say no to pudding, it’s a family trait, not my fault at all you understand. I couldn’t resist trying Coffee PannacottaStem Ginger FoamWalnut Croquant and I was delighted to see how generous the portion was; the Pannacotta was silky smooth and perfectly complemented by the crunchy Croquant. City Boy chose Homemade ‘Quilfi’Ice Creams and selected White Chocolate & Cardamom as his chosen flavour, he was not disappointed and said it was an absolute winner. In fact he declared the meal to be a super taste experience and he will definitely be back. I think he fancies trying a cocktail or two in the evening next time around, he could hardly do that on this visit as he had to return to his desk in the City.
To sum up this truly was a five star experience – the ambiance and decor, the service and dishes were all exceptional. Menu choices were priced very reasonably from as little as £3 for small bites to the most expensive dish two lamb chops still only £9.50 and desserts rocked in at a very affordable £4 each. I think next time we will come later in the day, as well as treating ourselves to cocktails we can enjoy late night music on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
There is also a less formal Hankies at 67 Shaftesbury Avenue if that is more convenient for your office or home and a more formal restaurant in the Montcalm Hotel in Marble Arch.