Pali Hill and Bandra Bhai – One of India’s most successful restaurant groups to open London restaurant and bar

Rahul Khanna and Kabir Suri of Azure Hospitality in India will launch their first UK venture on Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia this October, having pushed back the grand opening when covid-19 struck in March.

Inspired by India’s diverse culinary heritage, the ground floor restaurant, Pali Hill, will offer an eclectic menu of regional sharing plates. Meanwhile, Bandra Bhai will be a lively underground cocktail bar, inspired by the illicit hangouts of India’s smuggling era.

 

The name Pali Hill comes from one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Mumbai; an area particularly well known for the apartment ‘building societies’ that appear all over the country. These building societies see old residential blocks filled with people from all over the Indian subcontinent. As a result, their kitchens are always a melting pot of different regional flavours and culinary traditions, with residents often sending dishes to other flats for neighbours to share. This idea of a diverse food culture, with sharing and community at its heart, will be reflected in the atmosphere, interior design and menus at Pali Hill.

 

Tying the diverse flavours of India together will be the large grill that takes centre stage in Pali Hill’s open kitchen. Designed by Head Chef Avinash Shashidhara, the menu will include seasonally changing small plates such as Girolle and potato stuffed paratha with ghee and lime preserve and Pan-fried lamb sweet breads with black pepper, cumin, crispy curry leaves and mint. There will also be large sharing dishes such as Grilled Venison lal maas marinated with ginger, herbs and sweet spices and Stuffed Aubergine, green tomato chutney and hung curd with rice flour. The menu will also feature lesser-known gluten-free flatbreads made using rice, jowar and ragi flour as well as regional classics, chaats, home-style dals, fried fish and slow cooked meats.

 

Led by CADA Design, the 60-cover restaurant will have a contemporary feel whilst also taking cues from mid-century Indian design. As with the food, India’s eclecticism and diverse palates will be celebrated in the interiors, with inspiration taken from the terrazzo floors of art deco apartments in Mumbai, Pondicherry yellow pillars and furnishings, and tributes to Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh. Specially commissioned artworks from India will adorn the walls, with folk patterned cushions and accessories providing warmth and comfort.

 

Bandra Bhai – Until the 1990s, India had a closed economy where limited local items were available to buy and imported goods were scarce. This resulted in a ring of smugglers that imported and dealt illicit goods – anything from gold watches to foreign liquor. Designed in the guise of a front for these dodgy dealings, Bandra Bhai will be a playful tribute to the smugglers’ operations of days gone by.

New Delhi-based I ME AM Design have led the interior design for Bandra Bhai, which is set through a hidden doorway in the basement of the Mortimer Street site. The bar will be filled with velvets, gaudy art and kitsch upholstery, coming together to create a distinctive new 40-cover bar for great cocktails in an atmospheric setting. Designed by Luke Ridge (previously The Ivy Club and Dandelyan), the drinks list will transform tales of India into contemporary cocktails. For example, The Don has been inspired by the Bollywood movie character’s love of whisky and spice, and the Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy honours the king of Indian disco in a drink with tropical flavours of coconut-washed rum and melon.