One of the best date night ideas in London ought to be going for dinner and theatre. Situated right next to the prestigious Lyceum Theatre, on paper, Paro Covent Garden is the perfect pre-theatre restaurant to dine at if you’re planning to spend the evening watching the iconic Lion King Musical. Especially with its charming interiors, it seems to tick every box to be a London West End hot spot.

Paro: An Attempt of Modern Calcutta Flavours

Founded by Chef Niaz Caan, Paro is a modern Western Bengali restaurant with an ode to the vibrant flavours of Calcutta, India. He brings his award-winning experience at Brick Lane’s City Spice to the heart of West End, focusing on Calcutta cuisine with a modern spin.

This isn’t London’s first rodeo with refined modern Calcutta flavours. Before Paro, there is Darjeeling Express which Asma Khan has set a high bar on the market, as well as Fatt Pundit who really leaned into the region’s Hakka Chinese influences to bring a unique dining concept to the city and turned it into a massive foodie hit. Not to forget the endless list of contemporary pan-Indian restaurants as well that have become so popular around town. It’s safe to say that we had high expectations for Paro and were interested to see how Chef Niaz would translate his experience from a Brick Lane curry house to an upmarket restaurant.

Is Paro Covent Garden halal?

Yes, chicken & lamb are halal at Paro Covent Garden. Alcohol is served at the restaurant.

Disclaimer: this was a press invitation but all thoughts are our own.

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The Food at Paro Covent Garden (what we ordered)

Date of visit: February 2024

Papadoms (£1.50pp)

The meal started great with a basket of Papadoms, which is always a welcoming munch as we scan through Paro’s menu. It came served with Kachumber, Mango Chutney, and a sweet coconut & ghee mix that you usually find stuffed inside Peshwari naan. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the coconut-ghee mix served outside of the naan before and what a delightful first experience that was. Papadoms with coconut-ghee mix may just be my new favourite combo from now on!

A plate of prawn puri at Paro Covent Garden

Prawn Puri (£6.95)

I certainly have a soft spot for puri and had my eyes immediately set on the Prawn Puri the moment I opened the menu. The vibrantly coloured prawn curry being gently hugged by the warm puri was a mouthwatering sight to behold. It was not bad to taste overall but we did find the prawn curry quite sweet and was missing a robust kick of spice for extra flavour dimensions. There’s nothing wrong with sweetness but the lack of flavour depth is what failed to make the dish to stand out. It was a great starter concept but there was certainly room for improvement in execution.

Bang Bang Chicken (£5.95)

Then we had the Bang Bang Chicken, featuring grilled chicken smothered in a sweet & tangy cream & plum sauce, garnished with pomegranate. Compared to a typical Chinese bang bang sauce, this one came tinged with a delectable sweetness that’s almost addictive to taste. Using grilled chicken instead of fried chicken was also a delightful twist, keeping the dish nicely balanced. If you enjoy something saucy and creamy with a touch of sweet & sour flavour, you’d enjoy this one.

A plate of lamb shank curry at Paro Covent Garden

Lamb Shank (£21.95)

A lamb shank dish is always the perfect showmanship on the table and who wouldn’t love a bit of tender falling-off-the-bone lamb meat, right? We certainly had high expectations for the dish when we ordered it, seeing it’s a flagship dish that’s described to be slow-roasted in Paro’s 48 spice mix. However, the allure stopped there. Despite the array of spices, the dish had little flavour depth. The lamb shank didn’t feel thoroughly marinated either, tasting rather bland despite all the deceivingly rich-looking gravy and failed to deliver that hearty & moreish sensation we anticipated. Whilst tender in texture, the lack of flavour depth, again, had made it a rather forgettable dish.

Tandoori Grill (£25.95)

The Tandoori Grill comes loaded with tandoori chicken, lamb tikka, chicken tikka, and paneer tikka. Unfortunately, everything on the plate felt underseasoned and not marinated well enough. The dry texture from some of the meats was simply a no match to other modern Indian restaurants such as those from Copper Chimney, 1947 London, Three Falcons, etc. It came across more like a lacklustre neighbourhood curry house platter and didn’t match the more refined sophisticated vibes the restaurant was going after.

A bowl of Bengali Daal at Paro Covent Garden

Bengali Daal (£4.95)

We then thought we wanted something light and went for a little side of Bengali Daal. Alas, the daal was too watery for our liking and lacked that warmth & fragrant touch of spices from the supposed tadka. Once again, flavour depth does not seem to be a forte for the evening and it seems to be a recurring theme throughout this dinner. I must admit it was rather disappointing as we do love a good tadka daal.

Pilau Rice (£4.50) & Garlic Naan (£4.95)

Other sides we had include the Pilau Rice and Garlic Naan. It seemed a bit harsh to say but the pilau rice tasted indifferent to those from one of my local kebab shops’ rice. There wasn’t much aromatics going on and it was simply not the quality we’d expect from a restaurant. As for the naan, whilst perfectly fluffy in texture, it was sorely missing a pinch of salt.

Three pieces of Gulab Jamun with vanilla ice cream on the side at Paro Covent Garden

Gulab Jamun with Vanilla Ice Cream (£13)

For desserts, you certainly cannot go wrong with gulab jamun. They were spongy and syrupy, ticking the boxes for satisfying your sweet tooth. However, the vanilla ice cream felt a tad bit too much and it didn’t help when it tasted like cheap ice cream from the supermarket. I would’ve expected finer quality ice cream from a restaurant calibre as such or for it to be paired with good quality malai kulfi instead.

Mango Kulfi at Paro Covent Garden

Mango Kulfi (£7)

Last but not least, we finished the meal with a Mango Kulfi. You certainly can’t go wrong with kulfi. It’s decently nice, featuring a creamy texture and a mildly refreshing mango flavour. Though £7 felt a tad bit overpriced for what it is as it’s nothing outstandingly special.

Paro Restaurant Review Summary

Unfortunately, with the bar set high for modern Indian restaurants in London, Paro fails to stand out from the crowd. The meal started decent with the starters but the rest were rather forgettable, a downhill slope where the food resembled mediocre curry house dishes but dressed in fancier plates. Its prime location means there will be no short of customers but, food-wise, a lot was left to be desired. Without a doubt, there will be plenty of theatre-goers popping by the restaurant but for the world of foodies, there is much more work to be done to meet the finesse that many other upmarket modern Indian restaurants deliver.

  • Food
  • Atmosphere
  • Service
  • Value for Money

Paro Restaurant Info

Nearest station: Covent Garden

Tel: 02037220951
Restaurant Website

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