Reviewed by Ruman
Inspired by Mumbai’s night markets, Pilau is less a sit down restaurant and more a grab and go establishment with sites in Goodge Street and Soho. But where does it stand in a city saturated with Indian restaurants, takeaways, street food stalls and pop ups?
The Goodge Street site is relatively simple in its design. A counter, some stools and exposed brick make up the restaurant which has both indoor and outdoor seating.
There are four steps to the ordering process:
1. Choose a style – salad bowl, rice bowl or wrap
2. Choose a size – medium or big
3. Choose a filling – lamb & bone marrow, paneer or butter chicken
4. Choose four toppings from the six available – lettuce, red onion, pilau slaw, pickled ginger, shoestring bhaji and chillies
Pilau also has a choice of sides, desserts and drinks (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic) available on the menu. Head there at lunchtime and though you may get caught in the rush, you can make most of the lunchtime deal (main, naan balls and a drink for £7/£8).
Moving on to the stars of the show: our lamb & bone marrow rice box and butter chicken rice box. We went for the big box topped with lettuce, shoestring bhaji, pilau slaw and chillies as well as a dressing of some mint and coriander yoghurt and chilli sauce on top. The aroma from the box alone was enough to tell us we were in for a treat.
The lamb was tender and full of flavour while the chicken was also cooked perfectly. The addition of toppings on the boxes really changed the textures of the meal. The shoestring bhaji added a crunch while the chillies gave it a bit of a kick. The chilli sauce is definitely not one for the faint hearted! Luckily we had Pilau’s homemade drinks nearby to help combat the heat. Although the butter chicken was good in its own right, it was the lamb and bone marrow that really impressed us. The melody of flavours, textures and spice really hit the spot and the portion was more than enough for one person.
At just £7 for the big rice box (or £8 for the lunch meal deal), Pilau’s offering is great value for money and in our opinion, one of London’s best cheap eats. Having gone back to the restaurant numerous times since our first visit and having met the owner himself, it is clear to see the passion behind the project. Moreover, Pilau’s ‘Feed Yourself, Feed a Child’ concept means that every meal sold is being matched with a donation to feed an entire meal to a child in India through their partnership with Akshaya Patra, a charity that feeds 1.8 million children every day.
Value for money: 9/10 (£16 total bill // £8pp)
Halal Status: All meat served is halal.
Address: 34 Goodge Street, Bloomsbury, London, W1T 2QL
Nearest station: Goodge Street (Northern Line)
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Ruman eats a brownie a day, but only with coffee. She struggles to eat more than 2/3 of an adult size portion of food, but always has room for dessert. When not exploring restaurants, galleries or cities around the world, Ruman is a Marketing Ninja at Halal Gems, where she also holds the title of Chief Chocolate Officer.
Forever consumed by a mixture of wanderlust and FOMO, her interests include all things social media, travel, charity, photography and food.
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Reviewed by Ruman