Macdonald Compleat Angler
Marlow Bridge Lane,
Bisham, Marlow SL7 1RG
Tel. 0162 8405 405
Food type: Modern Indian
Nearest train station: Marlow
It has been a long time since I last ate in an Atul Kochar restaurant. I was still in university and it was 2008. I feel old just thinking about that. At that time Benares, Atul’s flagship restaurant in Mayfair, had just won a Michelin star, carrying over from Tamarind where he was head chef. Today Atul’s restaurant empire spans over 3 continents with outposts in Dubai, Madrid and India. He also has restaurants on board P&O cruise ships named Sindhu. This is also the name of the restaurant at the Macdonald Compleat Angler hotel in Marlow where we dined.
The dining room is located to the rear of the hotel and has beautiful views of Marlow bridge (which is undergoing refurbishment work) and the River Thames. We dined at dinner where there was an a la carte menu as well as a tasting menu available. Starters are priced at £12 – £15, Mains £17 – £26, Sides £7 and Desserts £8. The tasting menu is £65 and comprises of 7 courses. At lunch, the 3 course set lunch menu is £18, and features pared down versions of the a la carte dishes. We decided to go with the a la carte menu, with an additional main course.
We were first presented with an amuse bouche of leek & potato soup, served in a small cup. Being an Indian restaurant, the soup had a little spice to it. The predominant source of heat was from the addition of ginger alongside a background note of cumin. Very tasty.
My starter was crispy soft shell crab – a starter I had when I visited Benares all those years ago. In fact, even the presentation remains the same, and other than the substitution of the chilli sauce for a mango-passion fruit chutney, it is an identical dish. The battered crab was crispy but the squid rings were a fraction overcooked and was not as melt-in-your-mouth tender as it should have been. The passion fruit and mango sauce worked well, with the sweet and sour elements complementing the spicing well.
For mains, we both opted for the tandoori lamb cutlet. In true Atul Kochar style, the lamb cutlets were served with a sauce on the side, made from Chettinaad spices. The lamb cutlets were cooked through (well done), but still maintained a good amount of moisture. The star on the plate was the polenta cake which had been flavoured with curry leaf, which is one way of making polenta interesting. Alongside the lamb cutlets, we both ordered a portion of lamb biryani (which is a main course by itself). This turned out to be the dish of the night with individual rice grains, moist tender chunks of lamb and just a small hit of saffron.
My pudding unfortunately was a bit of a disaster. Chocolate fondant should be straight forward enough but the mixture had not been cooked long enough, so although there was a crust which was starting to form on the top, it was chocolate soup inside. I am not talking about a runny centre, but just uncooked, cold chocolate mix. If I was not rushed for time (we only had 2 hours for our table), I would have sent this back to the kitchen. My wife’s dessert of grilled pineapple was essentially that – 2 pieces of grilled pineapple with a yoghurt sorbet. Hardly ambitious and something you would be able to achieve at home. think in the future, I will probably stick to ordering an extra starter and skip desserts.
This was a decent enough meal at Sindhu. Obviously the cooking here is not in the same league or ambition as Benares, although it is very much in Atul’s style with the spicing relatively gentle compared to his peers. The execution here is not always perfect which explains why the restaurant does not have a Michelin star. From what I understand, the restaurant has just employed a new head chef which probably explains some of the inconsistencies. Like the Marlow Bridge opposite the hotel, this restaurant pretty much feels like work in progress.