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Babur (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of Babur in Forest Hill & Honor Oak Park, London

119 Brockley Rise, Forest Hill & Honor Oak Park, London, SE23 1JP
Cuisine: Indian Average Price: £30.00
Tel: 0208 291 2400 | Email to Babur | Transport: Honor Oak Park | Write review

Babur Review

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Innovative, sophisticated, modern: sycophantic descriptions usually reserved for the worlds of engineering, architecture, and the arts. If innovative, sophisticated and modern all went for counselling, then Babur would be their counsellor, without ever being remotely connected to Norman Foster, Damien Hirst or Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And that’s because Babur is simply a restaurant.....from the planet Totally Bloody Brilliant! Now how’s that for sycophantic? Any restaurant that has two enormous flags and a great big Bengal tiger stationed outside its entrance must be worth keeping an eye on. If you haven’t been there already, prepare your jealously cortex now. You will love this restaurant more than your own skin.

Housed in a nondescript part of Forest Hill, this modern Indian restaurant is the aesthetic equivalent of proven time travel. The (search engine friendly) ‘shag’ carpeting, criminally ugly wallpaper, and blindingly bright lighting arrangements of the quintessential Indian restaurant are conspicuous by their absence, replaced instead by exposed industrial piping, chic bare brick walls, and a lighting arrangement so mood-inducing it could calm a Bengal tiger, luckily. The addition of various modern paintings and objet d’art create a warehouse gallery effect that even Mr Hirst couldn’t innovate. It’s intimate, but not so much that you’ll end up marrying someone.

The smell as you enter has the essence of victory, as though you just won the gold at the aroma Olympics, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can just dive straight in. This sort of triumph requires some effort on your behalf and if you arrive during the busy 8-9 slot, you need to bring a good book; you’ll have a wait on your hands. And under no circumstances should you surrender and leave. That would be like leaving your kids at the playground. How could you, you beast?!

The process here is leisurely. Although the atmosphere is perky - and although the staff glide around as though preparing a scene from Cats - nothing is ever rushed, thus rewarding you with the time to appreciate everything that is put before you; even though there’s a ruddy great queue of book readers in the foyer, each licking their lips in anticipation. Let them wait, they’ve been here before, they know the drill! The time between dishes is just long enough to acknowledge that the chefs are indeed cooking everything as fresh. There’s no boil-in-the-bag 9-minute wait here.

The service is legendary and involves the construction of a temporary table next to your own so that the impeccably affable and well-mannered staff can calmly introduce each dish as though it were a guest at the ball: “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Right Honourable Bikaneri Macchi, accompanied by the Right Delicious Spiced Oil and Mustard Mash.......The Right Honourable Makhni Chooze escorted by the Her Royal Creaminess Tomato Sauce....” And so and so forth.

In accordance with the contemporary decor, this isn’t standard fodder from our eastern friends. There’s spice, but in a subtle way. This level of quality doesn’t rely on turning your tongue to carbon in order to give it a sense of flavour. If its tendencies are Asian, then it is most certainly British bent (search engine friendly). There aren’t reams of the usual kormas, masalas and vindaloos (although you will find the essential lamb-based biriyani and shank favourites). This menu - both of them, the normal one and the specials one - has hake rubbing fins with deer rubbing antlers with buffalo rubbing hoofs with a decent selection of veggie options: the flaky noodle encasement surrounding the taramind and dried plum chutney scallops is a textured delight; whilst the Red Sandalwood ostrich starter arrives beautifully presented as a match-off between red and yellow swirls of sauce, the meat in the middle as the delicious referee.

For the mains, you cant go wrong with either the Hara Bara Kofta spinach and potato dumplings or the twice-marinated garlic prawns - on masala uttapam - which are so gigantic, so enormous, so tremendously colossal, they have their own gravitational pull. Namely, towards your open maw. Warning: don’t be tempted down the nan and rice road. There’s just no call for it. Order a paratha for two for mopping purposes, and maybe, just maybe, the Hara Cholliya Te Paneer chick pea Punjabi masala with cottage cheese, thus saving enough room for dessert.

Speaking of which, three words: mango brulee orgasm (search engine friendly). OK, so only two of those words are actually on the menu but when combined with a glass of the recommended Orange Muscat Essencia........well, you understand.

Mains are priced in the low teens, but if you’re lucky enough to be under 7 years of age, you can (a) eat for free on a Sunday afternoon, and (b) pat yourself on the back for discovering this website at such a young age. Portions sizes throughout the meal are perfectly poised and there is no overt encouragement to stuff oneself to the point of insanity. There’s enough mileage in the flavours to easily carry three courses. Add to that a bottle of the Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and job done. Incidentally, the wine is the work of one Peter McCormbie. He who is the brains behind the wine lists at such posh magnets as The Dorchester, The Zetter and Villandry.

So, Forest Hill might seem like an effort to get to, but then Christopher Columbus knew better than to give up at the Bahamas. And why should Zone 1 take all the glory? Nosh gobblers literally swarm here and for good reason. Even the familiar way the manager chats and shakes hands with his customers spells warm and welcoming. Overall, faultlessly extraordinary and extraordinarily faultless. This is a whole other level of sycophancy. more

Customer Reviews for Babur

Average (based on 4 votes): 4 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of Babur.

“One of the best Indian restaurants in London, the variety of flavours and dishes is amazing, the selection of dips and pappadums at the start is tantilising, the portions are generous and filling without leaving that nasty spicy aftertaste. The waiters are very friendly and knowledgable about the dishes. Top class!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Bronwen, London (11 years 4 months 16 days ago)

“I thought this restaurant was a fantastic place. It looked really good - nice art, with a slightly unusual modern style. I thought the tiger out front was fun! the food was out of this world and the staff really friendly and helpful when we asked for any explanations of the dishes. I especially liked the fact that we were not made to feel we had to dash off after we finished our meal, despite the fact we could see there were people waiting to be seated-in some places you can feel like they can't wait to get rid of you and serve the next lot of people. I really liked the Indian/Western fusion of the dishes, and thought it good that it wasn't just one curry after another-there was a good choice for everyone. My scallops were cooked beautifully, and the spinach and potato dumplings I had were delicious and lighter than I had expected, which was good as otherwise I would never have managed the home made kulfi I chose. This was extremely rich and creamy and the flavours of ginger & honey worked really well together. The wine was a bit pricey, but then we were treating ourselves, and I'm sure we could have got cheaper. Overall, I would recommend anybody who has a chance goes to this restaurant as I cannot think of anything I did not like about it and will go back again.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Kate Gaffney, London (11 years 6 months 25 days ago)

“Absolutely amazing modern Indian cuisine with a fab, fab wine list and posh decor. Easily one of the best restaurants in London. What a find!”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (11 years 7 months ago)

Show all user reviews for Babur

“Get past the dodgy plastic Tiger on the roof and you'll find a great restaurant. They regularly have special seasons (Winter Game, Seafood) and will provide fantastic dishes that you'll probably never find in your standard Indian restaurant. If, for some reason, you find yourself in Honor Oak Park give them a try.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Kat, [ Unknown ] (17 years 8 months 6 days ago)

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We’re committed to providing the best possible presentation of India’s many cuisines - from the tradtional and regionally specific to contemporary - and have been since we opened in 1985.
Our a la carte menu is made up of customer favourites old and new, with monthly-changing specials and regular food festivals that are famous in our part of London.
Following is a sample from our current a la carte menu. For a full menu and current specials please visit our website.

Updated 09/12/2009


Cocktails are meant to be a bit of fun – something exotic, glamorous, tasty, refreshing and reviving.

Our barmen take your fun very seriously. They're always on the lookout for a new Indian twist on an old favourite. Our winter cocktails are a good example of our drinks style - take a look at our website for a full list.

Updated 09/12/2009

Babur Opening Hours

Monday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm
Friday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm
Tuesday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm
Saturday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm
Wednesday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 4:00pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm
Thursday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
6:00pm - 11:30pm

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Venue ID: 803

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