BiBi is the latest restaurant from JKS – you’ll at least be familiar with several of the group’s restaurants including BAO, Gymkhana, Hoppers and Berenjak to name a few – which opened in September on North Audley Street in Mayfair. For BiBi, JKS have backed chef Chet Sharma, who was previously the group’s development chef, having earned his stripes working at some of the country’s best Michelin-starred restaurants including Moor Hall and L’Enclume. Oh, and Chet also has a PHD in physics from Oxford University – which is really not something you can often say about a chef.
But accolades aside, how has Chet fared in his first solo venture? It’s a lot easier to be part of the backing band than strutting about at the front of the stage in the spotlight after all. Well, happily, Chet has a very strong debut in the can, full of crowd pleasing hits, familiar notes and more adventurous moments. Talking of music, the noticeably excellent soundtrack in the restaurant, a solid mix of 90s hip hop classics on our visit, has all been personally chosen by Chet.
The restaurant itself is perhaps a slightly awkward and strangely thin corner site. There’s an open kitchen and bar running from front to back and just about room for one row of tables running adjacent – but that’s it. It’s all pleasingly approachable however, from the warm interiors to the dishes and even the pricing (by Mayfair standards). If you’ve been to Gymkhana and you’re expecting something as wallet-bruising here, then fear not – you’re really looking at around £35 a head for food here.
The Indian menu is split in to five sections – snacks, chaat, sigree, sides and desserts – and you’ll want to ensure a spread of six to eight dishes across these. The must orders in our book include the Wookey Hole (that’s the cheese fyi) cheese papad, giant cheesy crisps with a creamy dip and mango and green chutneys; the raw belted Galloway beef pepper fry, an Indian riff on a beef tartare, spiked with spices and fermented Tellicherry peppercorns; the chukh masala tikka; and the Swaledale lamb belly gallouti, glistening with rich fat and crispy skin. Rice and roti are the happy accomplices to the main stars.
Dessert brings all sorts of treats, including what might best be described as mini magnums in two flavours – rum & munnaka raisin kufli and the saffron & white chocolate kulfi. On their cute little ice cream sticks they are Instagram gold, and taste delightful too, but our fave was the Pondicherry hot chocolate with rice milk ice cream, less attractive but superior tasting dessert. The only slight disappointment of the night was the selection of wines by the glass which felt a little safe and old school compared to the cooking. But that’s Mayfair for you.
All in all, BiBi is a great restaurant, with truly exciting and inventive dishes on offer, and a fresh, contemporary take on Indian cuisine. Highly recommended and we’ll be back again for sure.
42 N Audley St, London W1K 6ZR