Chakra is just far too fancy for the area, with small portions (especially for Indian) in England. I'm all about refined food, but I wasn't such a big fan of the pompous nature of the 'delicate' food and the overly plush and terribly uncomfortable white leather sofas, chandeliers and animal hides suffocating the place. Maybe a better location for this place would be Mayfair or Dubai, but not a nook in Holland Park. I trust the former Goldman guys to come up with a great concept, and maybe this is paying off for them, but it just isn't for me.
There is such a thing as too much service, I thought, as the fourth waiter arrived at our table seconds after the last to explain the baffling menu at Chakra recently. My mum and I went to sample this new curry restaurant soon after it opened. It takes the place of Cultural Revolution, which in my view offered excellent value tasty food but precious little atmosphere. With Chakra, the reverse is true; it's all style over samosasand expensive to boot. But when you've forked out a fortune on plush interior décor as the owners clearly have here, you're not going to charge £1 for a Frisbee-sized poppadum and a generous carousel of sauces. No. You're going to charge closer to £5 for quarter a broken up poppadum and serve it in a tiny little dish with a few scraps of chopped up tomato and onion and a thimbleful of sauce. As most London curry houses in London are much of a muchness, in my experience, with tired décor and predictable menus, it's easy to impress and even fool diners into thinking they are getting a superlative experience with a fine dining approach. When this is done well it can be a sublime experience, such as that to be had at my favourite curry place: Amaya. But in Chakra's case, upholstered white walls, clever uplighting and an army of waiting staff can't compensate for very mediocre food, which is what we had. It was certainly highly-coloured when it all arrived in barge-style dishes. However, the contents had also been liquidized to oblivion in a thick sauce, so it was hard to identify what was what, save the odd bit of chicken or prawn which sometimes broke the surface. As for flavour, well, it just tasted generally curryish, but with no delicate distinction of flavours. Chakra also favours that annoying policy of keeping your wine as far away from your table as possible. Then someone will sprint over to refill your glass if you so much as look at it, meaning you end up guzzling far more than you would normally. Here the cheapest bottle of plonk is £28, so be warned. Despite what I've said Chakra will flourish due largely to its location and the fact the only good curry house nearby Malabar is tucked away out of sight. Ironically, despite the over-zealous army of waiting staff during our meal, no one was on hand to fetch our coats after our meal so we waited around like lemons for 5 minutesno way to curry favour with new customers.
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