Babur is not hard to spot: just look for the life – size tiger prowling the roof. A quick glance through the plate glass frontage confirms that this is a long way from an average curry house. Inside the look is classy and modern: walnut veneer, exposed brickwork and limestone flooring meets brown – leather banquettes and industrial ducting – throw in a gallery of striking ethnic artwork and funky pendant lighting and the place really comes to life. The cooking has impact too, delivering an entertaining and adventurous canter through the contemporary Indian idiom, while wines are spice – friendly and the menu includes recommendations to match each main course. Quality ingredients – many not widely encountered in Indian cooking and judicious spicing are graced with well – dressed presentation. Chargrilled monkfish tikka in spiced coconut both is lively starter, followed by meltingly tender spice – crusted shoulder of lamb with beetroot rice, or there might be rabbit, pot – roasted with mustard and ginger. Finish with an East- meets – West dessert of saffron and pistachio praline kulfi.
From the moment you step through the door, you’ll realise that Babur isn’t your average suburban curry house. A big hand-painted kalamkari horoscope covers one wall of the foyer, while the dining room is a creative mix of exposed brick work and veneered timbers. The restaurant celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015, but the food continues to evolve witness a dish of pan-seared stone bass with fennel chutney, green beans, channa dhal and fennel pollen. Forget lamb vindaloo and chicken tikka masala, this is the world of crispy sago-coated beetroot cutlets with papaya chutney, dry-fried goat patties and twice-marinated jumbo prawns with a prawn lattice and pickle purée – creative ideas bursting with complex flavours, textures and colours. There’s an authoritative wine list, too, with fascinating spice-friendly recommendations from £20.25.
“Long live Babur!” – this “stand-out” stalwart remains one of SE London’s most notable stars, with an “ever-evolving” menu of “cracking Indian fusion dishes” served by “lovely, friendly and personal” staff in an “understated” and “lively” setting.
It’s not just its good looks and innovative cooking that set Babur apart – this long-standing Indian restaurant is also run with great passion and enthusiasm. Regular customers are invited to tastings and can even have an input on the quarterly changing menus – and the makeup of each dish is fully explained when dishes are presented at the table. The south and north-west of India feature most predominantly on the menu but there are also Western-influenced dishes available like crab claws with asparagus and saffron. Seafood is certainly a highlight, so look out for the periods of the year when the separate ‘Treasures of the Sea’ menu appears. You’ll find suggested wine pairings for each dish, along with some inventive cocktails.
Brockley's local Indian Babur restaurant is a far cry from the neon signed ones that grace most neighbourhoods in London. This is a place for the sophisticated eater and drinker. I have rarely seen such attention to detail in a local neighbourhood restaurant. Babur is most definitely one of the best Indian dinners and I have had.
Read the full review
Babur is not just any old Indian restaurant - it is unique, exciting and fresh... most definitely somewhere you would want to go for 'a nice meal out' rather than just 'a curry'. From the tiger on the roof - which is something I loved straight away and is about as chinzty as Babur gets.
Read the full review
Innovative, sophisticated, modern: sycophantic descriptions usually reserved for the worlds of engineering, architecture, and the arts. If innovative, sophisticated and modern all went for counselling, then Babur would be their counsellor, without ever being remotely connected to Norman Foster, Damien Hirst or Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And that’s because Babur is simply a restaurant.....from the planet Totally Bloody Brilliant! Now how’s that for sycophantic? Any restaurant that has two enormous flags and a great big Bengal tiger stationed outside its entrance must be worth keeping an eye on. If you haven’t been there already, prepare your jealously cortex now. You will love this restaurant more than your own skin.
Read the full review
Food and drinks worth crossing the river for. It could be all the liquor clouding judgement, but I’m more inclined to think it’s about the clear skill in the kitchen and behind the bar. Food and drinks alike at Babur are fragrant, fresh, and clean; the refinement allowing you savour each and every flavour, both on the plate and in the glass. By now, we’re both ready for another round, this time from the House Specials – Mango Mary for me, Currytini for the chap.
Read the full review
People don't come here and ask for curry house dishes - instead they enjoy the wonderful offerings of the highly talented chef and his team,' explains Peter. 'The restaurant only has 74 covers and is very popular so booking is advised. It must be the leading restaurant in the UK for its specialist festivals and events, which range from Burns Night and its Nepalese haggis to fantastic regional Indian cuisine events.
Long before Brockley Market took hold, this 29-year-old Indian was the foodie face of the neighbourhood. Creative dishes such as clove-smoked lamb chops and tamarind-glazed quail are signatures, while the kitchen’s careful sourcing and delicate cooking of high-quality meat, fish and game really sets it apart. Big flavours come together rather than overpower each other, and suggested wine and beer pairings are given for each dish to ensure drinks do the same. A contemporary light and airy setting complete with modern art also bucks the curry house trend.
To be honest, I would have gone through hell and high water to go for a tasting at Babur. Their food is constantly delicious and full of surprises, so I would have cleared my diary, come what may. I can't tell you specifically about their new summer tasting menu, since it hasn't been announced yet.
Read the full review
From the moment we sat down we were salivating at the food the table next to us had ordered. But choosing what to have from the mouthwatering menu was a bit of a tall order. While we were trying to work out what to eat we decided to have a cocktail from the drinks menu, which sounded just as interesting.
Read the full review
The Outstanding Restaurant of the Year was, once again, Emdad Rahman's Babur in London SE23 which was the only restaurant to receive 100% in the voting from the thirteen judges for the second consecutive year - an amazing achievement covering food, service, wine, ambiance, health and safety - the whole dining package.
‘Innovative, contemporary and stylish' neatly sums up the all-round appeal of this highly regarded Indian, which delivers consistently excellent food based on ‘adventurous ingredients and unusual combinations'. The dramatic interior with its floor-to-ceiling glass entrance, American walnut panelling and intricate kalamkari textiles is matched by a modern menu that's strong on seafood and game. Seared mackerel might be paired with a palate-cleansing salsa of green apple and fresh coriander, while clove-smoked buffalo receives a Rajasthani-spiced masala sauce. Regular festival menus introduce new dishes, and desserts are exotic riffs on the French classics – think mango brûlée or pineapple tarte Tatin. Suggested food and drink pairings are worth following (perhaps a Meantime Pale Ale with soft-shell-crab curry), and Babur's Sunday buffet is ‘the best around', says one Indian fan (‘born and bred in Yorkshire').
Read the full review
The best dining in South East London
For almost 30 years, this unexpectedly smart dining room in Brockley, a leafy but overlooked pocket of south-east London, has been offering adventurous twists on traditional, regional dishes. Mains that include steamed spice-crusted lamb shoulder with beetroot rice, and pot-roasted mustard rabbit, helped it to be crowned “London’s best Indian” by Zagat (“worth the journey”). The lifesize Indian tiger statue over the entrance is the only nod to curry-palace kitsch.
Reviewed by Will Beckett, co-owner of Hawksmoor

Babur is a really great restaurant. Its food is more ambitious than the usual neighbourhood fare (which I sometimes love, but it can be difficult to distinguish between one restaurant and another). Whereas with most Indian takeaways I stick to the same script every time (chicken rogan josh, garlic naan, sag aloo), at Babur there’s so much great stuff I mix it up a lot. Three dishes I’ve really like are the clove-smoked lamb chops, vegetarian thali and the pan-seared stone bass with fennel chutney.

Overheard on social media