STARTING a review of a restaurant by reading what other people have to say about the place is not how I normally approach the task at hand.But when you discover in advance the place you’re going is consistently rated Number 1 out of the 68 listed restaurants in Twickenham on a well-known travel website - well you have to have a peek at the comments.I am nowhere near worthy of calling myself a curry connoisseur and can claim little knowledge of Indian cuisine in general.
Chef and co-director Krishnapal Negi’s early training was in the prestigious Oberoi group of hotels in India, before he moved to London in 2002 to join Yatra in Mayfair.
In 2007 he opened his own restaurant Swagat in Richmond, which has been recommended by Michelin guide since 2010. Words like ‘amazing’, ‘overwhelmed’, and ‘top-notch’ featured heavily and aren’t used lightly, so I have to admit to feeling genuinely excited as my partner and I stepped inside.
Things got off to a good start, the interior is clean and nicely decorated with statues, plants, and artwork.
The owner was welcoming (Atithi means ‘guest’ in Sanskrit); and had we brought a team or two from the famous rugby ground with us there would have been no trouble finding tables as the place is impressively vast.
The menu spoke of Murghs, Molees and Makhanis which had me totally baffled, but the reassuring presence of a few Rogan Josh and Jalfrezis helped me regain composure.
It has to be said it is also a vegetarian’s dream - something I believe is not always guarenteed of Indian restaurants.
The starters are very reasonably priced, making ordering a selection very tempting, and in the end we opted for a vegetarian Ambhi Paneer Tikka (cottage cheese cubes tandoor cooked and served in mango sauce and mint chutney - £4.50) and a non-vegetarian Murgh Haryali Tikka (chicken cubes marinated in mint, corriander and spices - £7.50).
The reviews reserved the greatest praise for the food, specifically the taste, and while we did find the vivid green chicken a little off-putting at first sight, the reward on tasting it more than made up for this.
The thing to praise most was how strongly the natural flavours came through.