Good looks and innovative cooking make this passionately run and long-established Indian restaurant stand out. Influences from the south and north west feature most and seafood is a highlight – look out for the ‘Treasures of the Sea’ menu
Babur is not hard to spot: just look for the life – size tiger prowling the roof. Inside the look is classy and modern with striking artworks and funky lighting. The cooking delivers an adventurous canter through the contemporary Indian idiom, while wines are spice – friendly with recommendations included on the menu. Quality ingredients – many not common 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.
The good folk at Babur marked their recent 30th anniversary by commissioning a huge mural on the wall adjacent to the restaurant, which goes some way to demonstrate that this is a singlular kind of place. Its ‘modern Indian’ tag extends to the contemporary look of exposed brick and bespoke artworks, and a menu that eschews cliché in favour of a more creative output. Cod cheeks, say, to get you off the mark, sautéed in ginger and garlic, or venison cooked in the tandoor and flavoured with black spices. Follow on with spice crusted lamb shoulder marinated for 100 hours in rich Punjabi masala sauce, or pot-roasted rabbit cooked in a broth flavoured with mustard and ginger (and served with garlic roti). There’s meat and veggie versions of the tasting menu, and, to drink, cocktails and wines from a highly informative list. Wines start at £21.50
“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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Readers applaud this “gem” of an Indian restaurant for its “artfully chosen” decor, “superb” cocktails and “exceptional” food. Babur is a long-standing neighbourhood favourite, where furnishings have become increasingly stylish over the years (currently, bare brick, tiled flooring, low-hanging lights and wooden partitions holding vibrant flower displays) and the Sunday buffet remains consistently popular. Food encompasses both northern and southern Indian cookery, so you’ll find clove-smoked lamb chops from the tandoor, as well as wild mushroom and pea dosa. But the new menu also contains a healthy dose of innovation. Dishes such as steamed spice-crusted shoulder of lamb with beetroot rice combine prime British ingredients with bold Punjabi flavours. Ostrich is marinated in a fierce Rajasthani masala, and even goat gets a look-in: slow-cooked to perfection and transformed with aromatic spices. To match these dishes, Master of Wine Peter McCombie has put together a list of food-friendly bottles.
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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.

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