It’s all change at the old Holborn Town Hall once again as modern European restaurant Gezeliig has gone and new Indian restaurant Colonel Saab has moved in. The first UK venture from Roop Partap Choudhary who heads up the five-star Noor Mahal hotel in India, Colonel Saab is an homage to his mother Binny and father Manbeer, who went by ‘Colonel Saab’ during his time in the Indian army. And he’s certainly gone all out on the interiors, with chandeliers covering the ceiling and all manner of imported ceramics and artworks covering the walls. Minimalist it is not.
The restaurant draws inspiration from the various places across India that his mum and dad were stationed, so there are some familiar faves alongside lesser-seen Indian dishes on the menu. We started with one of those less common ones, cauliflower 65, which is deep-fried spiced cauliflower a lot like KFC (Korean fried cauliflower, not the Colonel’s work) and though it had all the right crunch, it was in desperate need of a dip – do as we did and order a raita on the side.
That was followed by two classics, paneer tikka and spiced lamb chops, which both had nicely spiced marinades but the lamb could have done with more charring to get that crispy crust. Colonel Saab’s butter chicken was a perfectly fine curry but for us the better main was the beef ularthiyathu, a Keralan-style dish with coconut and torn up paratha, which was much richer in flavour, helped even further along by a great daal makhani.
Ultimately the food at Colonel Saab is good but it’s expensive for what it is, yet it also doesn’t feel like a really special place you save for a fancy occasion; London certainly isn’t short of those nor is it lacking in higher-end Indian restaurants (Pali Hill, BiBi and Manthan are just some of the recent new openings). However the team should be applauded for the effort they’ve put into what has historically been a very tricky site that’s been through several restaurant iterations, so maybe they can make this one stick.
193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD