Previous incarnation: Well, until two months ago, when it reopened, it was a standard white-tableclothed affair, with hut-style roof. Framed reviews by Fay Maschler from the 1980s and 1990s hung on the walls.
So what goes on there now? Cooking-wise it’s fairly similar. But they’ve installed a big glass window overlooking bustling Eversholt Street – and binned the tablecloths. There’s a nifty bit of bare-brick style wallpaper throughout. And those old framed Maschler reviews? Still there, natch.
Who’s behind it? The menu tells in detail the story of one Gopal, who has been cooking for 62 years, from the age of 12, since he grew up in Kathmandu. He moved to London in 1971, opened his own restaurant the Gurkha on Warren Street in 1978 and, having flown his family over in 1980, went on to set up the Great Nepalese.
What’s the skinny? They still claim to be the only place in central London specialising in Nepalese food, with recipes handed down through the family. Even his wife allegedly taught the chefs.
Any recommendations? The waiter suggested a starter and a main. And there’s a substantial menu to peruse, with another decent pamphlet offering specials. After all that, I opted for a simple Nepalese Set meal (£16.95), which actually had many components. A soft vegetable dumpling starter, called a momo, in a lightly spicy tomato sauce, was delicious. And black dal had a deep garlicky flavour, plus there were half a dozen shallow trays of sag, aloo bodi tama, alooachar and plain rice, to accompany the main dish of chicken curry. Overall, a fun way to try different dishes, some of which you may not be familiar with.
What’s the service like? Eating a late lunch on a quiet Friday lunchtime, being the only customer is always a slightly surreal experience. But when I engaged the waiter in a bit of chat he was friendly and enthusiastic.
Do say: “Can you explain exactly what Nepalese cooking is please?”
Don’t say: “Where’s Drummond Street?”