I first discovered the Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar when a friend recommended that I book a table at his flagship Mayfair restaurant, Benares, back in 2009. It was the first time I had experienced Indian fine dining and it was a culinary watershed moment for me. Elegant and refined, it was as far away from the balti’s and tikka masala’s of your typical Indian restaurant as it was possible to get.
So I was delighted to discover that Atul quietly oversees another restaurant in Marlow, my recently adopted home town. Occupying the characterful back dining room at the Compleat Angler with stained glass windows overlooking Marlow Weir, Sindhu opened in 2015 but is something of a well-kept secret.
Showcasing Atul’s inventive and contemporary take on traditional Indian cuisine, the menu is surprising but subtle, with soft shell crab and mango chutney; pan roasted salmon, wild garlic and spiced coconut, and slow cooked lamb shank with browned onion and yoghurt all featuring. There is also an impressive and extensive wine list.
The seven-course tasting menu offered the perfect opportunity to experience a breadth of dishes, and there is an option to have pairing wines as well. After starting with delicate homemade discs of poppadum with a selection of chutneys, we began proceedings with the prettiest-looking samosa it’s possible to serve. Served with finely diced fried potatoes, the crisp, golden samosa is lightened with the tang of tamarind and pomegranate seeds for a clever spin on the traditional Indian snack.
Skillfully cooked hand-caught scallop with textures of parsnip followed before a delicate serving of stone bass with potato and coconut. This meaty white fish was perfectly cooked, complimented by the subtly spiced sauce.
You’d expect that after so many dishes – especially Indian ones – we’d feel somewhat like Monty Python’s Mr. Creosote. But Head Chef Ganapati Prabhu’s lightness of touch meant that when we were presented with our dessert platter, we gleefully tucked in. Rose yoghurt bhapa doi (a traditional baked Bengali festive sweet made with condensed milk); chocolate truffle with passionfruit, and mango kulfi (an Indian ice-cream) combined beautifully to finish the meal.
Marlow has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to dining, but Sindhu is a gem that must be discovered.
*Tasting menu £65 per person, £120 per person with pairing wines. To book a table, call 01628 405405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org