Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Woodlands Piccadilly - Vegetarian Restaurant Review

When a restaurant is full of so-called locals, you know it must be pretty good. In Piccadilly, just off Haymarket, lives a small, simply decorated Dosa House - Woodlands. With a rich heritage in India dating back to the 1930's, Woodlands first opened in Maryleborne in the '80's and have expanded to Piccadilly and Hampstead since. Recommended by a food-loving friend for the dosas, I was keen to give it a try - although if I'd walked past it on Panton St I might not have been tempted in. A slightly dated, shabby exterior leads to a simple wooden dining room with little atmosphere and no music. It was about half-full, however, of what I took to be people originally from South India, dressed in sarees and dhotis and indeed western clothing too, milling in and out as if it were a Keralan food court, ordering dosas, eating quickly and then moving on with their lives.

The staff, initially, were a little dozy (forgive the pun) but we were soon attended to by the manager, after I dubiously asked about cocktails (I was still in a post-NYC bubble). They do do them, but not usually. I settled for a beer. On the manager's reccie, we ordered a Tandoori Platter to start - mushroom tikka, cauliflower, baby corn, and paneer tikka, all marinated in the chef's special spices and tandoori grilled. We also received a complimentary Special Crispy Bhaji, because I think he liked being asked lots of questions about the food!

The starters arrived quickly and were utterly delicious. Not your typical curry house dishes, although they seemed familiar, they were lighter and more fragrant. Perhaps it was the missing meat. Oh - did I mention it's all vegetarian?! Yes, I knew that before I went... But although I am a complete carnivore (my friend isn't - she eats very little meat, so it suited her perfectly), I didn't miss it at all. The variety of dishes was as good as anywhere.

Crispy Bhaji, Tandoori Platter
For mains, we ordered the Thali. Although everyone around us was eating dosas - huge domed crepe breads with lentil dipping sauces and freshly made chutney and the filling (or not) of your choice, I have to go back as they looked so good. So so good. But still, our thali was just lovely. An age old South Indian meal, with small bowls of daal, curry, vegetables and rice, as well as a small dosa (no, not just like the other ones of which I was so envious) and even a gulab jumann for dessert. Although it looked teeny, it was more than filling, and showcased a plethora of flavours, textures, colours and tastes.

Afterwards for our cocktail fix, we wandered round Piccadilly and were more than satisfied!

Cocktails at the Cafe Royal
More cocktails! A Mojito and a Porn Star.

Woodlands Piccadilly
37 Panton Street, SW1Y 4EA

Open Mon-Sun 12-10.45

Meal for two with drinks ~£35

Woodlands Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Square Meal

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