The unassuming entrance on Berkeley Square belies what is, in fact, a portal into the best of the best of Indian cuisine in London not least because Benares’ Michelin-starred culinary status is matched by its luxurious surroundings and its private dining rooms.
The restaurant is up a flight of stairs, where a small pond dotted with tea lights sets the scene, the first floor opens out into the main bar area, which can be used for pre-dinner drinks before events or for standalone parties.
The restaurant has low lighting enhanced with candles, while many of the ‘walls’ are dark wooden panels or wooden latticed partitions which screen off three of the four private dining rooms from the bar area: The Wine Cellar, the Berkeley Room and the Chefs Table.
The Cellar Room houses a small proportion of the 600-strong wine list but the bottles lining the walls in black wooden racks and contrasting high-backed taupe padded chairs, combine with white linen tablecloths, napkins and black and gold glass show plates to give the room a distinctly gastronomic feel. Seating up to ten in one long or two tables of five, its set to one side of the main bar and has a glass panel looking out onto the main bar area.
Backing onto the Cellar Room is the Berkeley Room – separated by a wine wall and latticework panelling. At the other end of the room is a striking pair of hand-crafted ornamental doors made from Indian wood. Terracotta walls flanking these doors are complemented by similarly coloured pictures of Benares, the holy city after which the restaurant is named. Seating from 10-16 guests, the room’s large wooden doors can be closed for total privacy or opened to enjoy the vibe from the bar.
The Chef’s Table on the opposite side of the bar also backs onto the kitchen. A glass window provides a full view of the kitchen without the accompanying smells and noise, while an interlinking door allows chefs to come in and chat to guests about the food, if this is requested. The table is simply set with a red runner providing a striking focal point. For up to six guests this is one of the restaurant’s most requested tables.
The Dover Room, located separately at the far end of the restaurant, is a long room perfect for banquets of up to 36 guests. With sepia and paprika coloured prints lining the walls, the simple dark wooden panelled room with white ceiling and sliding doors can also be totally private or opened up to become part of the main restaurant.
Group menus start at £55 per person, rising to £68 for three courses, or a six course tasting menu can be arranged for £85 per person.
The sommelier team at Benares has mastered the art of pairing the ingredient and flavour-rich Indian dishes with the perfect wines, available to all menus.
Wines start at £29 a bottle on the internationally influenced list. Lunch exclusive hire range between £8,000 – £10,000 and evening exclusive hires between £15,000 – £30,000.