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Roti Chai (Restaurant)

Picture of Roti Chai in Marylebone, London

3 Portman Mews South, Portman Village, Marylebone, London, W1H 6AS
Cuisine: Indian
Tel: 02074080101 | Email to Roti Chai | Transport: Marble Arch | Write review

Roti Chai Review

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Best for:a fast turnaround lunch; a post-shopping refuel; or an Indian meal that won’t leave you bloated.

Great: red meat dishes and cocktails.

The proximity to Mayfair’s Michelin Star restaurants and super car specialists makes Marylebone, just across Oxford Street, susceptible to bouts of candid comparability. It’s easy to confuse the two suburbs when bridging the gap between them is the middle classes’ idea of an upper class shopping mall: Selfridges. It’s perfectly acceptable, therefore, to assume that this is “quite a posh area of London”. No really, it’s OK.

Roti Chai, only half a street to the west of London’s best venue for a potential supermarket sweep, is a modern Indian fine dining and street food restaurant. Note those last 3 words: street food restaurant. As oxymoronic 3-word phrases go, it’s right up there with ‘affordable health care’ and ‘self help group’.

To me, street food should either involve a rickety old vendor with more cigarettes than teeth in his mouth speedily sizzling a cryptic dish in a cloud of fragrant steam, or a rotund chap wearing a cap, a stripy apron, and a smile far too jovial for someone who’s chosen to remain inside a silver burger van for long hours of the day. They belong out there, on the street. Otherwise, suddenly, I’m inside, paying £5 for what is essentially a small amount of chicken nuggets, justified by a curried ketchup for dipping.

Despite the colourful persuasion of the brightly painted walls and the scaffold piping tables, the casual upstairs section of Roti Chai is still in the inside bit of a room. No matter how much one enjoys the ceremony (myself included), there’s still an obvious lack of street in this scenario. Context is everything. For example, a Banksy piece on a wall is street art, yet that same Banksy piece in a gallery, away from the street, is barely even art.

However, if you’re not a pendant like me and you’re able to ignore the ‘street’ part of this equation and just appreciate this as ‘food’, singular and plural, you should do fine at Roti Chai. Especially, it seems (from looking around the room), if you’re of Asian descent (an encouraging sign for the restaurant), and/or a middle class shopper endowed with a bit of spare cash. Roti Chai, although drawing much of its inspiration from the street, charges off-street parking prices that require some kind of special code or device to get in (a credit card and a pin number will suffice though).

There is no denying that the papri chaat slathered in yoghurt, beautifully presented with fresh coriander, pomegranate and hot sweet sauce, or the selection of roti bread and raita with fresh mint and hint of decorative curry powder, handglide off the Mountain of Deliciousness and land on the Mighty Cushion of Fulfillment. Yet, for the amount that middle class us, Christian and Laura, paid in central London, our middle class counterparts, Krishna and Lajwati, could have probably procured an entire street MADE of food in India.

We cooed over the Punjabi tikki wala spiced lamb mini bun kebab with sweet glaze, requisite kick, and smokey ketchup - it was our favourite dish of the evening - yet felt that, at £7.50, it wasn’t a million miles from a GBK burger in cost, but a million miles from a GBK burger in dimension. Likewise, the tiny fruit salad, which contained exotic fruits such as apple and banana, was £6! Best opt for the chocolate and cardamom tart with cinnamon cream instead then.

As a commendably progressive Indian concept, with succinct printed menus that imply seasonality to those who know, or simple avoidance of a 400-option laminated menu for simpletons like me who don’t, Roti Chai also offers wines by the glass (street goblet style), carafe (best value for money), or bottle. Sadly, the restaurant isn’t entirely on trend though as the dearth of Indian wines makes the experience incomplete. They do, however, have the refreshingly sharp Indian Mongoose beer. Plus, nobody should leave without first sampling the lychee teapot martini cocktail. Even if you don’t see it on the menu, you must ask for it, infinitely.

Do not, however, ask for any chicken dishes (meh!). Instead opt for red meat cuisine such as the superb railway lamb curry. Unsurprisingly for an Indian restaurant, there are a decent number of vegetarian options too so vegetarians, if I were you, I’d order a vegetarian option instead of a red meat option. Just thought I’d throw that soy-based nugget out there.

Roti Chai is a slightly kitsch imitation of the street, provided in an entirely tasteful way. The industrial layout, the small tables and the all day menu present a situation akin to a school canteen that’s collided with a Wahaca restaurant right in the middle of a Bollywood movie, the title of which, when translated into English, would read something like “food is delivered as and when it’s ready, unfortunately not on the street”.
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Customer Reviews for Roti Chai

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 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 Roti Chai.

“Overall, for the asking price on some of the dishes, perhaps a little steep for what you pay for but generally a decent feed though. We ate in the street food ground floor section. The red meat dishes were easily the best and the mini kebab burger stood out. Nice cocktails too and quirky, Indian-Wahaca style vibe going on. Vibrant, buzzy atmosphere. It would be a good restaurant for lunches if you worked on Oxford Street or were out shopping at Selfridges.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
The Restaurant Hunter, London (6 years 9 months ago)

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Prix Fixe Lunch Menu - 2 courses £18 & 3 courses £21

Type: Eat out from £10 to £20, Fixed price Menu, Lunch, Merchant Platform Generated Special Offer

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Loved

"Brilliant club good music nice owner and brilliant door staff" Which venue is this?

Hated

"Not real food micro wave dishes for green curry like soap with Indian rice not correct as I travel in Asian 6_7 months of the year very upset with cheap nasty food better off with a wimpy burger at £5..." Which venue is this?

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