Grand trunk road is one of the longest and oldest roads in the world connecting South Asia with Central Asia. At times, it did feel like I was on the actual historic route on my trek out to east London to visit the wonderful restaurant with the same name. However, with South Woodford rapidly developing a reputation for culinary excellence, it is a journey that most self-respecting foodie would expect to take with increasing frequency.
The owners have named Grand Trunk Road after the famous throughway, to highlight the varied nature of Indian cuisine and the plethora of spices used in their ever popular dishes. If you get a chance, do speak to their hugely knowledgeable owner, Rajesh Suri. He has been working in the fine dining Indian restaurant scene for over 30 years with the likes of Veeraswamy, Red Fort, Tamarind Collection, Imli and Zaika.
The decor strikes the right balance between upscale and welcoming whilst also finding the right balance between hints of Indian culture and the modern London look. The elongated dining space means most of their tables are lined up against the wall and I would say some are marginally too close to each other. This could be an issue on their busier nights, which is most of the time, considering they have 2 sittings over the weekends.
They have the type of menu that urges repeated visits so that you can sample every single dish. However, crusted seared scallops seemed to be a popular choice during our visit. It was not hard to understand why, as the scallops were plump and succulent whilst the roasted pepper, garlic and tomato chutney added an invitingly piquant taste without overpowering the dish with spices.
I heard a delightful story about the Lucknow Ki Nihari dish from the owner when he explained that this was a famous dish used to entertain the princes of the Lucknow region all the way back in the 18th century. Traditionally, the Lucknow royalty had an aversion to fighting instead diverting their time on culture and cookery, hence you will find some of the most stunning Indian dishes from this region. The meat from the slow-cooked lamb shank readily fell off the bone and was soaked in a winning aromatic sauce. Once again, it highlighted the diversity of Indian cuisine and that not every dish is reliant on the heat.
Grand Trunk Road might not be the most convenient restaurant for most, but this is one journey well worth undertaking.