Some restaurants surprise you with how well they can arrange edible flower petals on a plate, or with how great they are at refilling your glass of water without you asking. Bibi is the kind of place that will surprise you with every single dish. Things like a grilled lahori chicken in a cashew and yoghurt whey sauce that is so tender and creamy, you’d think it was the star of the show, only to have the lamb belly galouti arrive at your table, in three perfectly flattened meatballs and realising that there’s no way you’ll be able to pick a star of the show until you’ve tried absolutely everything here.
Is it a surprise that a restaurant headed by chef Chet Sharma, head of menu development at JKS, the restaurant group behind Gymkhana and Brigadiers, is serving such great food? No it’s not. But the surprise is just how excellent it all is. It starts with something as simple as a crispy papad that comes with a mango and chutney yoghurt that we’d nominate for world’s best snack, and continues with a tender orkney scallop in a lemonade dressing that will make you feel things you didn’t think you could feel for a mollusk. Basically, this is a clever little restaurant, with a very clever menu.
There’s something that’ll appeal to pretty much everyone here, with a large chunk of their main dishes being vegetarian, each one, from the aubergine dahi to the buffalo milk paneer, is an absolute flavour party. Whether it’s the chillies hidden under the paneer, or the tangy peanut and tamarind sauce that comes with okra salan, these dishes are just as interesting as the meaty options.
Though it’s a small space, it makes up for it with the four-person booths and an outdoor heated terrace, but if you’re a fan of Masterchef, then the real fun is at the counter. It’s where you’ll see everything from lobster being grilled, to final touches being added at the pass, all of which isn’t simply entertaining, but adds to the excitement once you realise that the meethi cod they’re plating up is for you.
The excellent food, effortlessly good service, and dim intimate feel of the place all make it a restaurant you’d want to bring someone special, be that a date, a friend, or a friend who you’re trying to impress in hopes they’ll one day say yes to a date. It doesn’t really matter who, because this is somewhere that’ll keep everyone happy.
The calamansi gola is made with tequila, lime, and green chilli, but there are two other shaved ice options on the menu - one with gin, and another (alcohol free) with fermented raspberry, lemon juice, and ajwain. Importantly, they are all as delicious and refreshing as this one looks.
Wookey-hole Cheese Papad
These are addictive. And the mango-laced chutney that comes with it is, hands down, one of the best dips you can get in London.
Loch Duart Salmon Jhal Muri
Raw salmon, with mini crisp papads to scoop it up with, this is a delicious and refreshing start to your meal.
Orkney Scallop Nimbu Pani
Chunks of raw scallop in an ‘Indian lemonade’, this is citrusy, fresh, and tastes like a scallop salad, and we’re into it. Get this.
Raw Belted Galloway Beef Pepper Fry
From the chaat menu, this tiny bowl of raw beef is a delicate three or four mouthfuls for £14. Delicious, and a bit expensive.
Sharmaji’s Lahori Chicken
Must order. This chicken is creamy, tender, and our favourite dish here.
Khatti Meethi Cod
They do some excellent things with fish here. And this spicy peanut podi topped, perfectly cooked cod on a mini dosa is no exception.
Swaledale Lamb Belly Galouti
Galouti means something that melts in your mouth, and these dinky little patties more than live up to the description. They come three to a serving, but we could easily eat a dozen of them. Plus, we could drink the coriander and mint chutney they come with by the pint.
Hearty and refreshing at the same time, this aubergine and yoghurt heavy dish is a party of flavours.
Kaima Yakhni Pulao
If you’re trying to decide between the roti and this rice, pick this. It’s cooked in chicken broth, topped with fried onions, and is excellent.