“I went to the highest rated Indian restaurant in London on Tripadvisor and found myself sitting across from Vanessa Feltz” – Ayokunle Oluwalana


London is a melting pot of many different ethnicities and that’s what makes it great. When it comes to choosing a restaurant for a dinner out, we are all spoiled for choice. It’s one of the highlights for me and I’ve lived here for 25 years.

If there’s one thing people always do, it’s check Tripadvisor or Google for reviews of a place. Seeing other people’s opinions and experiences is a great starting point for making a decision, but ultimately you have to try somewhere to get to know yourself. This is what I set out to do last Monday after last week a tree interrupted my journey to Hampstead.

Bonoo Indian Tapas is ranked number one out of 17,501 restaurants on Tripadvisor. Breaking the top 10 would be nice, but being ranked number one? It’s out of this world. That’s why I was so excited to try it out and see what it was all about. The hype was clear as soon as I walked in and was greeted by a beautiful interior.

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The smells that invaded the room were a dream and the flowers added to the mood

Right now there’s scaffolding outside Bonoo on Finchley Road in Hampstead, but stepping through the doors and through a pair of black curtains you’re transported into a whole new world. Flowers line the walls and an explosion of color hits you – the contrast between what is on either side of the curtains is stunning.

As I sat down I was immediately greeted by Mo who was a breath of fresh air. She led me to my seat and told me to order, I would have to scan a QR code to access the menu. After some faffing I had to use the tablet they had as I had trouble scanning the QR code (tech is a pain) but the menu looked sublime. You can get a paper menu if you ask for it, I soon realized a group at another table asked for it. There were food options for everyone from vegans and vegetarians to meat eaters and fish lovers.

Flowers line the walls while room dividers separate you from the table next to you
Flowers line the walls while room dividers separate you from the table next to you

It’s a very intimate place once you walk in and you can tell it was a perfect date spot, but also a birthday or a date with friends. The tables are separated by overhead screens giving you moderate privacy. The tables are expertly crafted and give you the feeling that they take pride in what they do.

I’m usually not a fan of tapas because if I go out for a meal I prefer a big plate of food. As I finished eating I realized I had been converted to love tapas and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I ordered the Vegetable Biryani which is made up of beans, rice, peas, corn, cauliflower and potato with a dollop of yogurt and garlic cilantro naan, c was a journey through taste. Every bite had the right amount of spice, every ingredient that came to my mouth sent me into disbelief and thinking how did they make something so good? This began to understand why they are so highly rated.

The Vegetable Biryani was a journey through taste
The Vegetable Biryani was a journey through taste

Chethan, a waiter then came over and asked me if I wanted a cocktail that would help wash down the food. Considering it was a school night, I was hesitant but a cocktail wouldn’t hurt, I figured. I made the right decision. The cocktail, which unfortunately I never got the name of and can’t find on their menu online, was amazing. Usually with cocktails there is never enough alcohol but this was just perfect, a few raspberries topping the top as well as some nuts, it was an experience in itself.

The dining experience then ended when I heard the door open and Vanessa Feltz waltzed into Bonoo. After I calmed down, I calmed down and thanked Chethan and Mo for the great service. Bonoo manager Mani then approached me and asked if I would like a free drink from Baileys or Brandy. To this day I still have no idea what was in the drink and when I asked I was just told “it’s a special recipe” – it sure was special.

This cocktail puts others to shame.  Unfortunately, I didn't understand the name, but anyway, I need to have another one
This cocktail puts others to shame. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the name, but anyway, I need to have another one

As I left with a bit of a sway in my step, I was more than satisfied with my entire evening. The food was some of the best I’ve ever had, the venue and interior added to the experience and the service had no faults. Bonoo Indian Tapas is a place that definitely deserves its number one rating and it would take time to knock it down.

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