Working Lunch: BiBi serves traditional Indian food with a twist
What Is It?
Debuting last month, BiBi serves up traditional Indian cuisine with a modern twist. Located in Mayfair, just a skip away from Oxford Street, the restaurant is a quiet haven from the city bustle.
It’s is the culinary baby of Chet Sharma, former development chef at the award-winning restaurants Moor Hall and The Ledbury. With BiBi, Sharma wanted to “embrace the full multicultural span of Indian cuisine” while using the best produce from the UK and India. Sharma’s other aim was to make exciting food that would be enjoyed by his own grandmothers (his “bibis”) – the ultimate test.
What’s the vibe?
This is a far cry from your provincial curry house, so don’t expect big bowls of vindaloo or baskets of doughy naan. The constantly evolving menu is comprised of five sections: bar snacks, chaat, sigree, sides and desserts, all of which are about the delicacy of individual flavours. The dishes are small but distinctive, and come beautifully plated, while the brasserie-style setting, with its comfortable booths and simple wooden tables, creates a backdrop that allows the food to sing.
What Should I order?
Begin with a warming cup of chai while you peruse the menu. As a pre-meal snack, the excellent sweetcorn kurkure fritters were surprisingly airy, and arrived with a delectable dipping sauce. The starters are also light, so a selection of four or five would be a good idea if you are sharing as a group.
For unusual flavour and texture combinations try the Orkney Scallop Nimbu Pani or the salmon, both of which are served ceviche-style, and cured in Indian Kaji lemonade.
For mains, I cannot speak highly enough of the peanut-sprinkled khatti meethi cod, which crumbles delightfully to the touch. Shamarji’s lahori chicken is served in a hearty spinach sauce, and there’s the option to add rice or roti to the spread.
BiBi offers an extensive wine and beer list, but also a selection of cocktails, including the Calamansi Gola, which contains the perfect mix of tequila, lime, mango, ginger, and green chilli, topped with a globe of shaved ice.
Round off the meal with a tart Pondicherry hot chocolate mousse with a scoop of rice milk ice cream, or a preserved mango kulfi, and you have all the ingredients for a pleasant few hours.
Could I bring a client?
The food can be a little fiddly and the small plates aspect means ordering a lot, but the atmosphere, with its vintage tiles, antique mirrors, and dusty pink walls, is soothing in a time when the newly-frenzied London restaurant scene can feel a little hectic for a working lunch. If you’re looking for something relaxed and refined, a place to take a client you already know fairly well or a somewhere to scheme with a colleague, BiBi ticks all the boxes.
Visit BiBi’s website or call 020 3011 1021 to book. 42 North Audley Street, London, W1K 6ZR.