Like many children of the nineties, I have vivid memories of eating in shopping centres. The brown trays that were somehow both sticky and fuzzy. The off-brand nuggets and fries. The jauntily patterned vinyl seats. If you were lucky, you’d find a table that was free from another family’s debris and had been wiped clean. And – if you were really lucky – you’d be given the single most important responsibility whilst Mum went to order the food – ‘holding the table’.
Decade(s) and one pandemic later and I’m back. But this time, I’m at a shopping experience so extravagant that even the nineties never knew it: Westfield, Shepherds Bush. But Copper Chimney’s award-winning Indian cuisine is far above what any shopping centre could hope for from its foodcourt centre piece.
Tastefully, the restaurant quarter has been placed on the outskirts, away from the glass and tile of the shopping centre itself. If it weren’t for the behemoth billboard noisily advertising the Walking Dead, you might kid yourself that you’re on a boujie London side street.
And the interior upholds the same vibe. As with most rattan-bedecked restaurants in London, Copper Chimney is an influencer’s dream. The manager, Shane, admits as much. “It’s for Instagram”, he says, but not without justifiable pride. It’s gorgeous, and it does the job: the restaurant is eminently photographable. Even the kitchen is housed in a glass-walled corner, looking for all the world like a giant terrarium that you might impulse-purchase during a madcap Etsy spree.
Being a much bigger fan of sharing now than I was as a ’90s child, my partner and I begin our meal with a thali-style selection of starters. The Chandni Chowk Chaat, an old Delhi favourite, is delicious. The creaminess of the yoghurt perfectly compliments the sweetness of the chutney, with pomegranate providing a burst of freshness. We were also particularly impressed with the grilled Burrah chop, ordered on the recommendation of our waiter. It’s delightful. Well cooked, tender lamb, liberally smothered in a fragrant in-house spice blend. The deep fried okra is morish, if disappointingly lukewarm, but skip the samosas if you are hoping for something with a kick.
Fish curries can be a risky business. Choosing a sauce that compliments rather than overpowers the fish can often prove tricky, but the Fish Rahra is beautiful. Fragrant and well cooked, the thick tomato and onion gravy is an ideal accomaniment. Soft and Buttery Naan breads are the perfect dunking partner. However, whilst I enjoy the theatre of the lamb biryani, with the traditional pastry top, it is slightly underwhelming. The lamb is too dry, which I’m told is a common pitfall of the Biryani.
As someone with the diet of a spoilt ten year old, to visit a restaurant and not have dessert is inconceivable. Luckily, the waiter and I are on the same wavelength, and he comes to clear our plates, ready with recommendations for afters. The gulab Jamun is soft and tooth-achingly sweet. It serves both as an excellent dessert, and a stark reminder to visit my dentist. The Halwa, described as Gajar Pistachio Crumble, provides a nuttiness and warmth and comfort belied by its vibrant orange exterior. And what with the main ingredient being carrot, it’s probably one of my five a day.
Upon leaving, I comment on how busy it is. ‘Usually we are even busier’, Shane tell us. I can understand why. With a lunch deal that starts at £10, and mains averaging £14, Copper Chimney offers a dining experience far better than you’d have any right to expect in a shopping centre. My Mum would love it here. But old habits die hard. I suggest a shopping trip to her – I now know the perfect place for lunch. I’ll hold the table.
Tel: 020 8059 4439