Ooty, a new restaurant specialising in the cuisine of southern India, is opening in London's Marylebone in the former Galvin Bistrot de Luxe site.
Opening on 14 February, a year after the closure of the Galvin Brothers' award-winning restaurant, Ooty will be the first restaurant venture from Pooja Nayak and Aseela Goenka (pictured left and right, respectively).
The kitchen will be headed by Manmeet Singh Bali, formerly head chef at Vineet Bhatia's Michelin-starred London restaurants Rasoi and Vineet Bhatia London (VBL).
Goenka previously worked in HR management for DB Hospitality, which owns the Hilton Mumbai and Grand Hyatt Goa. Since moving to London, she and Nayak have worked in the charity sector; Nayak is the chairwoman of the WIAUK (Women in India Association UK), and Goenka is vice chair.
The restaurant, named after a small town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, will comprise three spaces: an 80-cover fine dining restaurant; Ooty Club, an 18-cover "colonial-style" basement bar; and Ooty Station, a 40-cover all-day casual dining space and cocktail bar (set to open by the summer).
Goenka said: "To be able to present delicious food not just to appease hunger but also as a sensory experience is what Pooja and I aspire to do, and Ooty is the product of this vision which we have been working for over a year.
"We both have fond memories of the delicious, aromatic cuisine and fresh fish from childhood holidays to south India and, whilst we do enjoy curries, baltis and butter chicken dishes, we wanted to focus on the cuisine of the south to show that Indian food is so much more than this."
The site will offer a seasonally changing a la carte menu, including starters such as Tellicherry crab fry with zesty coconut crab relish and tomato chutney; and Goan chicken cafreal with cucumber rolls and baby corn shoots.
Mains will include Keralan lime lobster with shellfish charu, squid ink idli and chutney spoon; Andhra natu kodi biryani, guinea fowl basmati rice, egg salan and cucumber yogurt pachadi; fennel lamb shoulder, pine nut and pickled baby shallots; and masala dosa with crushed new potato.
Reflecting its more casual, ‘drop-in' feel, the menu in Ooty Station will focus on light snacks and "hearty bowls".
Ooty Club's drinks menu will include a selection of cocktails inspired by railway journeys through India. Signature serves will include the rose garden cocktail, paying homage to Ooty's famous rose garden, and tiger hill, named after Darjeeling's highest railway station.
The restaurant interior will feature botanical wallpaper, dusky pink chairs and deep green banquets; while the lower-ground bar will have more dark panelling, carved wooden furniture and vintage prints, maps and colonial paintings. In contrast, Ooty Station will have a more contemporary feel with leather seating and a bold yellow and navy blue colour scheme.Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).