Tucked away on London’s fashionable Old Brompton Road (some might even call it Chelsea) just a short stroll from Earl’s Court station, Flora Indica is so introvert you might mistake it for one of those curious old book shops. Not a bad analogy really as its name is taken from a book by botanist Joseph Hooker, once the grand fromage of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew.
But there are no botanical books in here. The nearest botanical exhibit you’ll find is likely to be in a cool gin cocktail. That said, the interiors here are quite something. It seems no expense has been spared in creating an eccentric landscape, from the marble table tops to the ceiling rose wall art. Copper piping on the walls and ceiling represents a distillery; perhaps another nod to the aforementioned gin. And downstairs there are one or two intimate little alcoves to hide away inside while feasting on a cocktail and sharing the food.
Talking of which, the central food theme here is Indian with a British twist to it. The menu does carry main course selections, but for me, the bevy of fifteen small plates are delightful and more than enough choice for an entertaining meal. I always love warm chilli infused cashews (£3) to nibble on while having a drink and contemplating the menu, and these certainly hit the spot. Not content with cashews, you could spread the snack love and have a taste of green banana kali mirch chips with smoked garlic yoghurt (£4) or millet roti with stone crushed chilli garlic and truffle oil (£4)
There are some stand out small plates for me. Crispy Jerusalem artichoke papdi chaat with tamarind and a plum yoghurt (£7) is delicious. Full of flavour. The braised Angus short rib slowly braised for 12 hours with raan aauce and turmeric hispi cabbage (£8.50) simply melts in my mouth. And then there are the prawns; Malwani prawns with yellow tomato chutney and black mooli radish (£7.50) are a combination of fresh flavours that work perfectly.
Other notable mentions have to be Till Wali yellow fin tuna with baby leek, chilli caviar and kalonji cucumber (£9) and the spiced pulled duck cheela with coconut chutney and red amaranth (£9).
The seviya chicken wings are chicken wings, but not as we know it Jim. They have an unexpected but delightful furry texture and come with a tangy spring onion dip and a charred cipolin onion on the side. (£7)
Flora Indica is an entertaining experience if you hanker for a mix of inventive cocktails and a spread of very moreish Indian tasting plates.
Just don’t expect much in the way of reading. You’ll need a proper bookshop for that.
All food images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Flora Indica
Flora Indica, 242 Old Brompton Rd, Earl’s Court, London SW5 0DE
Tel: 0044 20 7370 4450