Amaya. It’s a great name for a baby girl, but it’s also the name of a Michelin Stared Indian restaurant in Knightsbridge, recently ranked the 7th best eatery in the UK and the 76th best in the entire world. I went along with a friend (we will call her Dee) and Halal Gems to experience my first every taste of Michelin Stared food.
The first thing I found when looking into making a reservation for 3 on a Tuesday evening was that I couldn’t find a menu online nor could I find the prices of anything. This raised a few concerns to my wallet but I felt like I deserved a treat, the Amaya websites states that the average food spend is £50 to £70.
Amaya is located in Chelsea and is tucked away within an Arcade off the back streets of Belgravia. The décor has a classy and chic feel to it, mixed with dimmed lighting and open spaces.
We were explained the concept behind the ordering style; many of the dishes are Indian Tapas and designed to share with everyone and brought out once each meal is ready, so there will always be a steady flow of dishes. There are a lot of options on the menu and it did feel a little overwhelming, so what does one do in a situation like this? Go for the safe set menu option. So Halal Gems and I went for the Amaya Tasting menu, minimum of 2 people whilst Dee went for the Vegetarian Menu, which is for one person. This meant that the Vegetarian menu you get 2 of each item per person, whilst the Amaya tasting menu you get 2 items between 2 people…
Let’s review each dish at a time, what I am going to do is remove the price and environment factor out of the equation and just talk about the food, with regards to taste, quality, flavour and presentation. The first to arrive was the Minced chicken lettuce parcels with treads of apple garnish and the Avocado Salad. Now here was I was expecting with my first bite of “one stared” food, an explosion of flavour and taste, but I didn’t get that. What I got was a more somewhat underwhelming mouthful of interesting texture of minced chicken wrapped in lettuce, as you can see the presentation is elegant. Salad is not really my thing so I let Dee have that all to herself.
Next, we had a 2 pieces of Chill and Rose Chicken Tika, which meant just one each whilst Dee had the Tandoori Panner. The chicken was well cooked, soft and very tender but there wasn’t much flavour or spice to the chicken, I was surprised that it wasn’t accompanied with some sauce on the side; however we did have 4 different chutneys.
Griddled Fillets of Sea Bass, Shakartand Chaat and Grilled Stuffed Pepper were up next. Any type of Allo Chaat is a personal favourite of mine, I particularly like tamarind sauce, this was a great dish for sharing; light, simple and tasty. The Sea Bass was completely forgetful, almost no spice or flavour, even while staring at my pictures im having a hard time to recall anything memorable from the Sea Bass. The Grilled Peppers were stuffed with cheese; this cute dish was memorable for its unique look of small peppers and taste of its rich cheese.
Following this was what I was looking forward to, The Grilled Lamb Chops! Also served in this around was the Spinach & Fig Takki and the Edamame Seekh Kebab. The Chops were a good size and covered in nuts, which was different. A few months a ago I had chops from Dishoom and remembering having a foodgasm in my mouth because they where so good. These chops weren’t on the same scale sadly. I don’t think being coated in nuts helped with enhancing the taste, they were cooked to how I prefer, medium rare, but I didn’t get that full fatty flavour from the juices of the meat. Surprisingly the Spinach & Fig Takki which is featured in both set menus was one of the best things I remember eating on the night. I liked the texture and the interesting mix of ingredients that really gave this dish a strong and standout taste.
Just when we thought the rounds of food were over we were hit with the Biryani’s! At this point we were all feeling a tad on the full side. I like Biryani with moisture and found this too dry. Again, like with most meals it didn’t impress me, I found really simple and basic with its lack of complex usage of ingredients and spices. The Biryani was served with Raita.
Once we allowed enough time to pass it was desert time, A lime Tart with well, I wish I knew the name of it, I’m going to just call it jelly with a mint on top. It was a nice, sweet way to end the entire meal.
Taking into account all of the about overall the food was overpriced and average. I can’t recommend a single dish, nothing really stood out for its taste and use of flavours. The presentation of the dishes were good but not amazing. It’s very difficult to justify the food spend here; I’ve had the same experience at Mint Leaf for quarter of the price.
One thing I can’t explain about is leaving hungry, we were well a truly stuffed. The courses kept coming and coming, when we thought we came to the end we were hit with another dish.
The service, while professional, felt cold and somewhat robotic. There was a lack of a personal touch and warmth, the introductions to the dishes felt rushed and passive. When dishes were served weren’t informed to which menu they belonged which caused some confusion between sharing amounts between us. The naan was brought out after our first round of dishes and too soon before our next round of meals, which meant I had to send it back as it got too cold. Now that I think about it, there were only 2 naans between 3 people, despite each menu carrying a naan. I felt for a outlet like Amaya the service could have been more attentive, yes we did get a manger visit us on twice to check on us, but I wanted him to engage more and ask open questions.
My bill came to just under £70 with mock tail and 12.5% service. The Amaya Tasting Menu is £55.
For a Michelin stared establishment I was expecting more from the food, I was hoping for a memorable culinary experience with outstanding cuisine, but I didn’t get it. What I got was a feeling of being cheated as I felt the dining experience unfulfilling and falling short of my expectations. My taste buds weren’t woken up by any dish. Maybe I should manage my expectations better… or should I expect more from the “7th best” restaurant in the UK!?
The Chicken and Lamb are verbally confirmed as being Halal.