Tucked away in the heart of Marylebone is a fine dining establishment that brings the flavours of South India to London. Ooty is the more well-known name of the heavenly hill station called Udagamandalam in the state of Tamil Nadu. Taking inspiration from the idyllic town, friends and owners Pooja Nayak and Aseela Goenka brought in powerhouse chef Manmeet Singh Bali (of Rasoi and Vineet Bhatia London fame) to take their childhood dishes to new heights.
As we entered the restaurant, my friend Paige and I were immediately captivated by the splash of colour in the dining room. The tasteful décor, reminiscent of the British Raj era, was a welcome refuge from the busy outside world. We were first invited downstairs to the Ooty Club for a drink and nibbles. The Ooty Club is a colonial-style basement bar that serves up signature cocktails using teas, spices, and premium spirits. The intimate setting is perfect for pre or post-dinner catch-ups and has its own dedicated bartender ready to bring refreshing tipples for you and your guests to enjoy. We were also able to try their canapé menu which features moreish bites like spiced nuts and squid ink croquettes.
After our snacks, we made our way back up to the bustling dining room. The manager told us that Ooty was built to have three parts: the main dining room, the Ooty Club, and the soon-to-open Ooty station that will be a more relaxed, casual space for guests to enjoy their meal. The a la carte menu at Ooty features familiar ingredients that are presented and put together in very unique ways. Some highlights of our meal included the excellently cooked garlic chilli scallops with puy lentil cashew nut koshimbir and the guinea fowl biryani with egg salan and a cucumber yoghurt pachadi. Everything was flavourful and very different to any other Indian restaurant I had been to.
All throughout our visit, the staff made sure to give us a personalised experience. They were eager to explain how the chef wanted to merge the traditional with the contemporary by elevating dishes in ways that you won’t see in other Indian restaurants. They talked us through South Indian staples like dosas and uttapams and showed us how at Ooty these were all prepared with a twist. If you’re curious to see how an award-winning chef puts a modern take on South Indian specialties, or perhaps you’re just on the lookout for a luxe drinking den, make sure you pop into Ooty and prepare to be transported to a bygone era.#
66 Baker St, Marylebone, London W1U 7DJ, 02037275014