Pali Hill is a modern Indian restaurant from Azure Hospitality. This, the group’s first UK venture, offers an eclectic array of regional plates – with moreish bar snacks servicing the hidden cocktail bar Bandra Bhai, below. Following our descent into the drinking den (read our full bar review here), we take a seat in Pali Hill to see what Chef Avinash Shashidhara has cooked up.
Pali Hill sits on Mortimer Street in Fitzrovia. Beneath it’s orange awnings, the warm glow of industrial-inspired lighting shining through the glass-fronted facade, makes it a welcoming sight as dusk rolls in.
We enter and are guided through the contemporary restaurant. Grey concrete bordering allows distressed indigo walls and rich mustard yellow pillars to pop, with vibrant and bizarre paintings making it hard to follow our host without getting distracted. Classic cane webbing and rattan seating and panelling meets mid-century-style orange banquettes and high-top bar stools, in a handsome and well-executed melange.
After a decadent visit to Bandra Bhai (read our review here), we take our seats near to the open kitchen. Here, Chef Avinash Shashidhara’s team is working away in a fluent and practiced manner, with each dish checked and approved before it is sent out passed the service counter.
Behind the Menu
An initial scan of the menu throws up an array of regional favourites – from Punjab Tandoori to South Indian Dosa, West-coast buns to East-coast squid – with a higher prevalence of Karnataka cuisine (diverse in itself, with each region within boasting its own specialities, flavours, and techniques). This mash-up of dishes is dynamic and exciting, as well as making a lot of sense when considering the name of the restaurant.
Pali Hill is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Mumbai and an area particularly well-known for its apartment ‘building societies’ where old residential blocks are filled with people from all over the country. As a result of these communities, kitchens here are always a melting pot of different flavours and culinary traditions, with neighbours sharing meals together and sending dishes to one another. Pali Hill, the restaurant, celebrates this sharing of plates with a menu that is inspired by multi-regional, communal dining, and supplied by top UK producers of fish, meat, and veg.
The General Manager, Ali, welcomes us and offers up his recommendations and impressive knowledge of each dish. Stating that we’re quite hungry and have good appetites, we’re directed to select two Small Plates and three Big Plates to start with, and see how we get on.
Having already tried the North Indian street food favourite, Papadi Chaat (£10) on our first visit to the restaurant some months back, we begrudgingly elect to forego this divine, texturally stimulating hodgepodge of spiced yoghurt, crunchy sev, and ripe tomatoes, topped with bursting pomegranates, tangy tamarind and fresh mint. Instead, we pick Pondicherry Fried Squid (£10) and Kulcha (£15), whilst reminiscing about the Mangalore Buns & Crab Sukkah (£12) we enjoyed downstairs at Bandra Bhai.
The Kulcha is something entirely new to us – a naan-like flatbread, liberally topped with Summer girolles mushrooms, fontina and khoa cheeses, a touch of bird’s eye chilli, black truffle, and chives. The cheese offers up a delicate saltiness, with meaty girolles, prickling fresh chilli and lightly earthy truffle combining to create a moreish treat atop the soft bread. The squid comes in a lightly spiced tempura batter, and is topped with crunchy courgette crisps. The squid is ever-so-slightly overcooked but the garlic-heavy sweet chilli sauce it comes with is simply outstanding – exactly what a sweet chilli sauce should be but usually never is.
As we wait for our mains, we stare around the bustling restaurant which is busy for a Wednesday night, interested to see that many of the diners are in larger groups that are happily sharing plates in the spirit that the menu was designed.
Our mains of Wild Sea Bass Steamed in Banana Leaf (£18) and Tandoori Monkfish (£20) arrive after the perfect interval of time, followed by the large, crispy “Paper” Dosa with accompanying curries and chutneys (£14). The sea bass is perfectly cooked and delicately flavoured with fresh mint and coriander. The cut of the boneless fillet has been chosen to include the meatier part of the flesh close to the bone, as well as the light and flaky part that we’re used to. This adds textural interest to the gently aromatic dish.
By contrast, the Monkfish is bold and powerful in flavour, with a paprika-rich, Tandoori rub working wonders with the hefty fish, making us yell out “Sea chorizo!”, in a slightly uncouth manner that we blame on our lockdown-hangover of not being in public much of late. The lightly charred sweetcorn gives the dish an earthy popcorn element that works in harmony with the rest of the dish’s vibrant notes. Whilst it pained us to order a £14 dosa (which our childhood has taught us usually costs about £3.50), it comes fantastically crispy, accompanied by lovely morsels of vegetable sagu, potato curry, and various chutneys.
Absolutely stuffed, we glance at the Sweet Plates menu, trying to convince ourselves to make room for the Carrot “Halwa” with Vanilla ice cream & pistachio (£7) – a divine Indian pudding made with fresh carrots, milk, sugar, ghee & nuts. Sadly, the generous portions of Pali Hill have rendered us unable to sample such a delight. Thankfully however, Ali suggests a lighter option of Passion Fruit Ice “Gola” (£7), which turns out to be a cup of shaved ice topped with deliciously tangy passion fruit syrup – the perfect end to a decadent and flavourful evening.
Pali Hill is a delightful new addition to the Fitzrovia high-end gastro scene. Chef Avinash Shashidhara and his team – both in the kitchen and front of house – go above and beyond to make guests feel welcome and excited by everything on offer. Dishes are varied, with a strong sharing culture running through the menu that feels right in the setting, and the wine list has been carefully thought-through to pair with the plates. Interiors are fun and lively, adding flair and frivolity to diners’ nights, and the whole atmosphere is one of indulgence, dynamism, and effortless hospitality.
Whether you’re visiting with a loved one for a special occasion, or a group of friends for a midweek catch-up, Pali Hill’s staff will make you feel at home in what can sometimes be an austere part of town.