Babur has been a pioneer of modern Indian cuisine since 1985, its contemporary approach is bolstered by a classy brasserie look. The cooking continues to deliver original ideas, backed by spice-friendly wine recommendations for each dish. Quality ingredients are the bedrock, judiciously spiced and delivered with well-dressed presentation.
‘A local institution and such a lovely place to have down the road,’ notes a reader who has nothing but praise for this ‘welcoming’ neighborhood Indian. But Babur isn’t your average curry house: there’s a life-size effigy of a tiger on the roof, a hand-painted kalamkari horoscope in the foyer and lots of artefacts amid the exposed brick work and veneered timbers. Meanwhile, the kitchen delivers ‘high-quality cooking without the pretentiousness or fuss of some upmarket restaurants’. There’s plenty to tempt vegetarians and vegan – beetroot cutlet with papaya chutney, say, or a wild mushroom and pea dosa – as well as those on special diets. Elsewhere on the extensive menu you’ll find the likes of crab ‘bonda’ dumplings with mint abd coriander purée, steamed shoulder of lamb accompanied by beetroot rice, or seared Grassingham duck breast with braised cabbage, clove and sweet-and-sour plum sauce. Intriguing sides might feature crispy fried potatoes dusted with mango powder, while desserts are clever crossover ideas. The wine list has been knowledgeably assembled with food in mint, but it would be remiss to ignore the zesty Asian-themed cocktails.
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.
“In Forest Hill… who knew?”; this “off-the-beaten-track” culinary mecca has, in fact, been “brilliant for years” (it opened in 1985) and “these guys just keep on delivering the goods”. It’s not just the “magnificent cooking”, often featuring game, or “seriously divine cocktails” (some of them “super spicy”) – the ambience too “is strikingly elegant given the mundane locale” of the distant south London ‘burbs. Top Tip – “best experienced when they do their special seasonal menus and events”.
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.
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.
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