ROOP PARTAP CHOUDHARY'S INSIDER GUIDE TO HOLBORN
The man behind London's celebrated Colonel Saab restaurant gives a local's guide to Holborn
There are few people better placed to give you the definitive guide to eating and drinking your way around Holborn, than Roop Partap Choudhary.
The multi-award-winning restaurateur founded luxury Indian dining concept, Colonel Saab, as a love letter to his family and India, and it has become the jewel in Holborn’s crown.
In the past year, it has been named one of the top Indian restaurants by Forbes, won a slew of prestigious awards and become a celebrity magnet, welcoming regulars from Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai - who says “it is the only place which serves the authentic flavours from home” to pop icons, TV stars and presidents.
The modern Indian destination at the grand, former Holborn Town Hall is a homage to Choudhary's travels across India with his mother, Mrs Binny Choudhary and father, Colonel Manbeer, who was given the honorific name ‘Colonel Saab’ - shared by the restaurant - while serving in the Indian Army. The postings across India enabled them to experience the continent's rich diversity of food from traditional local lunches in the tents of Rajasthan to British-inspired Indian breakfasts in the Officer’s Mess and banquets hosted by Maharajas.
Choudhary spent a year retracing his father’s footsteps across India by train, bus and car with Indian food royalty, Karen Anand to curate contemporary twists on dishes passed down through the generations of people they met, with many regional specialities appearing for the first time on a London menu.
He’s eaten his way around India and cherry-picked the finest recipes and art for his restaurant, so we tasked him with selecting the best picks from Holborn and he did not disappoint…
The Hoxton, Holborn
I'm more of a chai person and Hoxton Hotel is a lovely spot to enjoy an excellent Masala Chai and watch the world go by.
It’s buzzing with energy from young creatives and as a collector of eclectic art myself, I enjoy the interesting mix of furniture in its industrial chic interior, from wooden cinema seats to apothecary cabinets.
The Hoxton, 199-206 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD
On my way to the restaurant, I often like to stop off at Drury 188-189 for breakfast.
Despite its location by the British Museum, it doesn’t feel like a tourist trap. It’s cosy, relaxed and friendly and their brioche French toasts are some of the best in London. But my go-to is their smashed avocado with mint and lemon on organic sourdough.
The Drury 188-189, 188-189 Drury Ln, London WC2B 5QD
I love Faros, a modern Mediterranean and Italian restaurant in Holborn.
I’m passionate about authenticity, and the restaurant’s Italian soul oozes from its excellent, basil tomato sauce to its rustic, softly lit room and creamy but light tiramisu.
Faros, 57 Grays Inn Rd, London WC1X 8PP
The Holborn Dining Room
This beautiful British brasserie is grand, with marble, brass, ox blood red banquettes, and chandeliers hanging from its sweeping ceilings. But somehow, it feels intimate. I can lose hours enjoying dinner here with friends. The menu is bursting with British classics, but people come here to experience the extraordinary things their team can do with pastry. My personal favourite would be their slow roasted lamb shoulder pie. And if you have room, I recommend their citrus meringue choux.
Holborn Dining Room, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
After dinner at The Holborn Dining Room in the Rosewood Hotel, I often move on to the hotel’s glamorous Scarfes Bar.
It has a dark, moody and sophisticated interior. And it's particularly lovely in the winter, when you can enjoy their roaring fire, surrounded by shelves of antique books while you work your way through their creative cocktail menu, with highlights including the Scandal Symbol, a lovely mix of Patron, Aperol, passion fruit, clarified milk and champagne.
Scarfes Bar, Rosewood London, 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
If you’re looking for authentic Malaysian cuisine, the no-frills Dapur restaurant is worth a visit. There’s limited seating inside, but guests spill out onto the street’s food court outside to enjoy their tiffins of food.
Dapur, 13 Lamb's Conduit Passage, London WC1R 4RH
Roop Partap Choudhary is the founder of Colonel Saab, 193-197 High Holborn, London WC1V 7BD