Behind the redbrick walls of a former all-boys’ grammar school in Bermondsey lies an unlikely Indian palace. The LaLiT hotel group bought the Grade II listed Victorian building on the South Bank in 2017 and spent £50 million transforming it into a five-star luxury hotel, where dramatic design meets traditional Indian opulence.
The Baluchi restaurant is set in the former assembly hall with soaring vaulted ceilings, which are painted a vibrant royal blue and hung with sapphire-tinted glass chandeliers. The sheer size of the space means it can sometimes lack ambiance, however this doesn't matter when sat at the self-styled naan’ery: an intimate marble-topped bar where the affable executive chef Santosh Shah prepares a feast of naan breads in front of you, cooked in a traditional cast iron tandoori oven.
Pairing flavour and theatre, this dedicated bread bar is the only one of its kind in London. Chef Shah, previously head chef at Cinnamon Kitchen, conjures fluffy bread made with sweet and savoury fillings including porcini mushroom and truffle, or sweet fig and dripping cheese. A glass of champagne eases you in, followed by red and white pairing wines, while there is also the chance to step behind the bar for a closer glimpse of Shah's alchemy.
A traditional copper tiffin box of signature Balucchi dishes completes the meal, packed full with creamy butter chicken curry; aubergine and tamarind curry and comforting black dal. Finish with a moreish scoop of sweet carrot halwa – a sweet, cardamon-packed buttery pudding. After such a richly flavoured and generous feast, you’ll be tempted to book a bedroom for a quick snooze, or slip downstairs to the hotel spa.
£55 per person for a four-course meal including pairing wines; The LaLiT London, 181 Tooley Street, London SE1 2JR, thelalit.com