Upscale Indian dining in London

For many, traveling and eating are synonymous. I just had an exquisite experience at an Indian restaurant in London’s Berkeley Square: Benares (12a Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6BS; phone 020 7629 8886 or visit

Owner and acclaimed chef Atul Kochar adapts homemade recipes he acquires while traveling in India, then adds his own twists to craft an eclectic and savory menu with contemporary panache.

We went to Benares on a Monday night in July ’06 without a reservation. There were no tables available in the dining room, but we were seated in their elegant lounge. The design, lighting and ambiant music complimented one another to create a tranquil yet groovy atmosphere.

While the food was spectacular, from seafood curries to lamb shank to chicken dishes, what struck me most was the uncompromising service. The staff was magnificent. They were very knowledgeable, not only about the menu items but about the chef and his philosophy.

When my companions decided to throw me an impromptu birthday party, the Benares staff went out of their way to provide a birthday cake. They didn’t have anything on hand, so they went to a bakery to purchase a cake, then served it as if it were one of their own creations. When we were done with our meal, they even arranged a taxi to pick us up.

The menu is a bit pricey, starting at about £18 (near $34) for entrée items. Count on spending about £40 ($75) per person.

Despite the price tag, the flavors, service and ambiance are unbeatable.

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