LILU: PASSIONATE ABOUT INDIAN FINE DINING
Just a stone’s throw from your favourite shops in the Highcross Shopping Centre lies Lilu Fine Dining. A culinary gem that surprises not just on its aesthetics, but delivers on its melting pot of flavours, making it a knock out dining experience.
LILU FINE DINING: THE LEGACY
Situated on Highcross Street, LE1, Lilu was taken over in 2014 by the director and very charismatic Pratik Master. A fellow Leicester born and bred being who possesses a celestial passion for preparing and cooking Indian food. When I say Indian food, I mean deconstructing an authentic Indian speciality and serving it up with an artistic approach and disposition that will make you think it was always meant for this elegant veneer.
Pratik explained that it was actually his familys dream to start a Pan Indian restaurant specialising in his family’s traditional Indian dishes. Five years ago saw the unfortunate passing of Pratik’s mum, which reignited this passion. The passed years were spent gathering family recipes and constructing an advancing menu representing the family’s food inspired roots and journeys.
The inception of Lilu in 2014, provided a real reverence to Pratik’s mum as the restaurant is serving fine food to guests with excellent service and good quality ingredients. This is just how Pratik’s mum would have liked it, with each customer being treated like a guest being welcomed into an Indian home. The atmosphere is relaxed, contemporary and the service leaves you thinking that you are the only one in that restaurant and your every need is taken care of to a personal level.
The simple black façade of the restaurant with the hint of green from the Lilu calligraphy compliment the green hanging topiary boxwood balls at either side of the entrance. As you enter, even before I knew about the story of Pratik’s mum, I immediately felt as though I was walking into a cosy front room with a bar at the side.
The décor is simple, neutral and contemporary with hanging photos and art work by various artist including Sarah King & Design. In keeping with representing a light airy space, a few ornately framed mirrors were scattered strategically around the room. There are two main dining spaces, with the kitchen being located on the first floor of the property.
Table settings consisted of a pitted copper tea light holder and the cutlery was placed elegantly in a wooden holder. Pratik explained he had and extra space added to this to accommodate spoons which are often required for Indian curries. This is one of the more masculine touches in the restaurant, which I actually think is a grand idea!
We kicked off our evening with our drink choices of a Kingfisher for Dr C and a a Beauté du Sud Malbec from the South of France for myself. All wines are selected to provide a broad pairing with the dishes on the menu.
We were soon bought poppadoms and a selection of six chutneys to nibble on with our drinks.
In order to deliver two different perspectives on the menu, I opted to select vegetarian dishes, whereas Dr C would select non-vegetarian.
Our amuse bouche arrived in the form of semolina puri like shells filled with a lightly spiced medley of mint yoghurt, potato, tamarind, radish, coriander and gram flour crispy vermicelli. A small morsel of flavour delivered on a beautiful dish of scattered pebbles with the occasional pop of red from the cherry tomatoes.
To start I ordered a classic street-food favourite of mine, Mumbai Chaat. This was a deconstructed chaat, where each ingredient had its own flavour but together formed a perfect marriage. Three crispy semolina puris stuffed with spiced potatoes and topped with onion and coriander. The tamarind water provided separately to pour into the crispy balls and then the crispy vermicelli and yoghurt accompaniment. A dish so refined in presentation from its usual mix in a bowl at a Mumbai stall, but still delivering the traditional very best in flavour.
Dr C’s starter was the Lilu Special Kebab. But this was no usual kebab. The dish was made up of tandoori roasted chicken breast, minced lamb kebab coated with diced peppers and a cabbage kachumber accompaniment. The meat was cooked to perfection, beautifully flavoured and tender. A starter to savour most definitely.
Starters were soon followed by a palette cleanser of spiced tomato Gazpacho accompanied by a small rectangle of naan. A small and bijou but a punch delivering a cup of happiness.
Onto the main event, mine was the Bharwan Mirch. Baby peppers stuffed with minced paneer in a thick tomato curry sauce served with cassava kofta and topped with deep fried okra. This was served with a Laccha Paratha. The crispy layers of the paratha paired the dish and mopped up the creamy makhani sauce perfectly.
Dr C’s mains was the Tandoor roasted lamb cutlets, minced lab kofta accompanied by peas and potatoes. The lamb was tender and by the look of just the sheer bone left on the plate, I would assume this was a winner with medium spiced flavours. Dr C accompanied his dish with a naan to scoop up the rich meaty sauce. Lilu maybe fine dining, but it’s not too posh to just pick up your meat and nibble it right down to the bone. In fact Pratik gave the thumbs up and sometimes you just gotta get down and dirty!
Our two course meal soon turned into three courses when we decided we had to end with dessert. Dr C’s favourite is the Gajjar Halwa, which left me with the one of two choices, the Kulfi or the Rose Chocolate Ganache. I went for the latter!
The Gajjar Halwa is essentially a sweet carrot pudding with nuts and raisins however this one had a refined twist of cheesecake about it, which meant rather than it being served in a bowl it was topped on a butter biscuit base and served with vanilla ice-cream. Lets just say Dr C demolished this in a flash and that means only one thing only, it was perfection!
The Rose Chocolate Ganache was a dream, quite literally. A milk chocolate ganache served with rose flavoured kulfi ice-cream on top of a crunchy chocolate crumb. Let me share a little secret, I am actually not a fan of the rose flavour but, I just think I may have been converted!
Pratik’s mission is to provide you with food that surpasses your expectations, well guess what mission well and truly accomplished.
‘Eat what you like, make no compromise….’ Pratik Master
Lilu’s is like no other Indian dining experience in Leicester. I’m a Gujerati Indian by heritage and a harsh critic when it comes to the food I was bought up on. This was authentic tasting food, styled magnificently and coupled with outstanding service in a friendly non-intrusive environment. So I’m definitely digging Lilu’s #notjustacurry because I really was blown away!
The à la carte menu at Lilu starts at £35 for 2 courses and £39 for 3 courses. They also serve a vegetarian and non-vegetarian version of the ThaLi-Lu from Tuesday-Thursday priced at £25.
Disclaimer: Our meal at Lilu was at a discounted rate however as always all opinions, views and photograohy are my own and remain a copyright of be-lavie.
Lilu Fine Dining
76 Highcross Street
Tel 0116 2623119/07904929374
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