I had a wonderful meal here last night. I have frequently recommended it as a central London option for people looking for Indian food who don't want to venture east.
It was the first time I'd eaten off the full menu and I was absolutely blown away by some of the dishes. This was cooking of the highest class, better than Benares, Cinnamon Club or any other 'fine' Indian I've eaten in London.
The huge positives
We ate giant prawns from the tandoor with tamarind and and chilli. These were beautifully cooked with a wonderful taste of the tandoor. Superb.
The unassuming star, almost of the whole meal, was the katli. Gently spiced aubergine stuffed with a huge array of vegetables with two excellent chutneys. The sheer depth of flavour brought out of the aubergine was astonishing.
Dahl Makhani was also excellent, with a richness beyond other versions of this dish that I've tried. Went very well with a lovely roti.
The Rabbit cooked with garlic, onions and yoghurt had a taste of saffron and was a fantastic dish.
The only mis-step was in the cooking of the red snapper in the jhol. The spicing was perfect but as is the case so often with this fish it was just ever-so-slightly overcooked.
Other than the very slight miss on the snapper there was absolutely nothing to criticise in the cooking. But there are some warning signs here which dissuade me from wholeheartedly recommending Moti Mahal.
1. The drinks pricing. This is pretty bad. It makes a Gordon Ramsay restaurant look like a corkage-free byo. That might be an exaggeration but I've seen a 2001 Langoa Barton for around £40 and it was £140 here. 1998 Chasse spleen was £245. Even a Luigi Bosca Malbec was £40.
Instead we got what I think were 275ml Cobras for £6 each. Just an astonishing ripoff really.
2. A cover charge of £3 was added to our bill. It wasn't mentioned anywhere when booking, on the menu or when the bill came. It was hidden between the starters and mains and when I queried it I was told that it costs £1.50 per person to dine at the restaurant. I didn't make a fuss as I was being treated by my mum but I just think levying a charge like that without ever mentioning it is just quite sneaky. By all means add £1 to each of the five dishes we ordered but it just left a very sour taste and just reeks of them taking advantage of people.
The total bill for two starters, two mains, dahl, roti, one dessert and five beers was £140 with service. Expensive for Indian food but for what we ate it didn't feel bad at all. Had I been paying I'd have asked them to remove the cover charge, or I'd have removed the service charge and I'd recommend anyone else do the same. Our of principle more than anything else.