This partnership between Asheesh Dewan, owner of the outstanding Jaipur restaurants, and Atul Kochhar, the first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star for his renowned London restaurant Benares, promised a new benchmark for Indian food in Ireland and - that promise seems to have been fulfilled with éclat.
Ananda's executive chef is Sunil Ghai, who has been working in the Jaipur restaurants for eight years, and is known for an impressive understanding of Indian cooking and remarkable finesse with spicing; prior to Ananda’s opening, Sunil spent several months working in Benares, and, together with Atul, has developed a highly innovative and contemporary menu.
Don’t come to Ananda expecting standard samosas and chicken tikka – instead be prepared for culinary treats that challenge the broadest perceptions of Indian cooking. A vegetable korma might feature fragrant apricots and sage, seared scallops might come spice-crusted on polenta and coconut, lamb shanks might be slow cooked in Kashmiri chilli and pine extract.
A great way to sample four dishes in one is to order Ananda’s thaali, available as a vegetarian choice or with meat and seafood. This selection of four complimentary dishes, served with rice and excellent naan, showcases the breadth of skill in the kitchen, and is a knockout dish. Interestingly, each menu contains a wine list, which is a useful idea, although it would be more user-friendly to see the food up front, and the wine list at the back.
This Dublin restaurants got a good choice of wines, by both the glass and bottle, most of which are accessibly priced. Cobra and Tiger beers are available too, although not on the menu.
The creative vision in the kitchen has been carried through to the glamorous dining room, which has taken the best of Indian design and given it a stylish contemporary twist. Flock fabric chairs in jewel colours sit beneath organically shaped lamps that seem to float like giant jellyfish.
Alcoves are trimmed with subtle dark woodcarvings, evoking the palaces of Rajasthan; bright canvasses of rural scenes reference the colourful southern provinces; richly coloured walls evoke the vibrant saris that dot India’s streetscapes. All these elements have been perfectly tied together on a pale striped carpet to create a stylish, comfortable and highly distinctive dining room.
The purity of flavours, the wonderfully presented dishes, the smart service and the beautiful dining room make Ananda appealing on so many levels.
For the quality of cooking on offer, it offers surprisingly good value too.