76 Commercial St, London E1 6LY
Vibe & Decor
The first thing you should know about Madame D: like its sister restaurant around the corner, it’s tiny. And that’s not a bad thing. Nestled atop the No.76 Commercial Street bar, the decor is based on the flat of Madame D: the fictional character who lends the restaurant her name. There’s a small bar as you come in, but the rest is as if you’ve stepped into someone’s home for a dinner party: Himalayan maps on the wall, trinkets on the fireplace and the low chatter of other diners.
It’s hard to know where to start here. We were told on our visit that Himalayan cuisine encompasses Indian, Tibetan, Chinese and Nepalese cooking. But the team here don’t just pull out signature dishes from each region and feature them all; they combine all of the flavours into new dishes, creating a kind of Himalayan fusion. And it’s spicy. Oh boy is it spicy. If you’re not after heat, ask the staff, who can advise on slightly tamer dishes. We started off with prawn crackers, which justified their £7.50 price tag when they were served with a fiery chutney containing actual prawns, with a spiced carrot slaw on the side. Ask what the chef recommends and it’s likely you’ll be tipped off to the Naga chilly beef puff; already a favourite on Instagram. Our favourites, however, were the whole sea bass in soy and ginger and the whole fried duck leg – slathered in a smoky, sticky glaze to mop up with rice. Drinks-wise, we recommend starting off from a cocktail from the innovative list (artichoke negroni anyone?) and then moving on to a bottle from their concise wine menu.
Order the stem ginger ice-cream after to extinguish the heat. And it goes without saying, but go early if you don’t want to queue – it’s no reservations of course.
The noodle and potato bhel. Crunchy, fiery, tangy, sweet – we still can’t get our head around it.