By Thomas Shambler
Can a celebrity chef successfully combine the concept of fine dining with traditional Indian cuisine? Rang Mahal, at the Marriot Marquis, thinks so
For a celebrity chef, sticking your name on the side of a restaurant in a city outside your hometown can be fraught with danger. How can you really ensure that the staff left behind can do your reputation justice?
What will customers think when they enter a said chef's restaurant to find him not in the kitchen? And how often must you return to keep up appearances? Some restaurants have excelled under these conditions, while some have failed (think back to Gordon Ramsey's ill-fated Verre at the Creek Hilton). Fortunately for Rang Mahal, Atul Kochhar seems to have nailed the concept.
Kochhar is a critically acclaimed chef in Britain, known for his modern take on Indian cuisine. His restaurant in London, Benares, became only the second Indian restaurant to receive a Michelin star back in 2007. It's obvious that he holds his Dubai restaurant – Rang Mahal – to those same lofty standards.
The restaurant is based in a dark room, with low orange lighting and large, carved wooden pillars. Service is fantastic, staff are ever on hand to offer recommendations and explain the menu, right down to the region the food comes from. The menu is an exciting mix of dishes – some will be familiar to curry-lovers, others more experimental – and currently includes a tasting menu that pairs British and Indian cuisines.
While the smaller, more 'fine dining' plates are certainly interesting (like the Scottish Lassooni scallops with garlic and cauliflower) it's the old-school curries that most impress. They certainly are traditional, but on a whole other level to what you'd get from the local curry house.
Caption: While the restaurant excels at 'fine dining' options, it's the more traditional fair that will have guests coming back for more.