At the heart of London’s diverse restaurant scene, the newly opened Lanes of London takes you on a trip around the globe in just one dining experience. Elite Traveler spends the evening at the Park Lane venue and finds delicious street food in a unique setting.
There aren’t many restaurants where butter chicken curry and scotch eggs feature on the same menu – but Lanes of London is no ordinary restaurant.
Housed in the five-star London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, the venue offers a unique concept that celebrates the diverse range of cuisine available in the capital through four, individual ‘lanes’.
Famed for its authentic Indian cuisine, Brick Lane is one of the lanes showcased by the restaurant, along with Kingsland Road and its Vietnamese influences, Edgware Road and its Lebanese flavors, and British classics from Portobello Road.
And while it’s hard to imagine eating barbequed pork skewers alongside a vegetable samosa salad, this is all part of the restaurant’s charm – and somehow executive head chef Anshu Anghotra, alumnus of acclaimed Raymond Blanc’s cookery school, makes it work.
Before the meal my guest and I sample two Lanes of London cocktails (the bar menu’s cocktail list is also split into the four ‘lanes’), served by manager Francesco Turrini, who is so dedicated to the art of cocktail making that he has a picture of a martini glass tattooed behind his ear.
I go for the deliciously warming, alcohol-free ‘Chai Wallah’, made with Chai syrup, Damman Touareg tea, lemon juice and ginger beer, while my companion indulges in the fresh and fruity ‘Arrack Panch’, a concoction of Ceylon Arrack, lime juice, ginger juice, pomegranate syrup and soda.
Next, we head over to the restaurant, where our waitress for the evening is awaiting us.
We start with ‘Salt Baked Pumpkin Salad’, which is paired with Edgware Road’s ‘Kafta Meshwi’ – minced lamb skewers. The flavorsome, chargrilled meat is complemented perfectly by slightly sharp, smoked aubergine “Babaganoush”, served on the side.
A couple of glasses of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ‘Vavasour’ later, we enjoy two Vietnamese-inspired ‘Kingsland Road’ dishes: ‘Bun Thit Nuong’ – barbequed pork skewers – alongside ‘Roi Du Du’ – green papaya salad.
Both are delicious; my companion describes the tender skewers, served with a rice noodle salad and homemade sweet chilli sauce, as having “so many beautiful flavors”, while the papaya salad – made with pork, prawns, peanuts and a spicy lime sauce – is very fresh and aromatic.
Four dishes later and we’re starting to feel very full, so when the ‘Lanes of London Scotch Eggs’ are brought out my guest and I are not sure if we’ll manage them. But after one bite, it’s hard to resist these quintessentially British delights, which have a comfort food element to them with their crispy outer and yolky center.
We’re defeated before we can finish the four large eggs though, and move on to our sixth – and final – dish: Brick Lane favorite ‘Butter Chicken’, which I’m told is the chef’s father’s own recipe. Served with cumin rice and crispy paranthas, the curry’s warming flavors certainly do not disappoint.
Dessert would seem a bit adventurous at this point, but after taking a look at the menu it’s hard to resist the appeal of delights such as ‘Pimm’s Trifle’, ‘East India Dock Ginger Cake’ and a selection of unusual flavored ice creams and sorbets (pistachio kulfi and spicy pineapple, anyone?)
I daringly go for ‘Jammy Dodgers’ and discover this is where the restaurant really comes into its own. Who knew that home-baked shortbread filled with strawberries and cream could be so delicious? My companion is equally impressed by the Indian-inspired ‘mango and coconut kulfi’ ice cream.
We leave Lanes of London suitably stuffed and nod in agreement that the venue’s unique food selection, excellent service and casual setting makes it the ideal place to dip into London’s diverse culinary scene.