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TOUR OF THE MONTH
London's Oldest Indian
The oldest and one of the grandest Indian's in the UK.
Location: Mezzanine Floor, Victory House, 99 Regent Street, W1B 4RS
Description: Veeraswamy is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the UK - one of the oldest surviving restaurants in London.
It was established here in 1926 by the great grandson of an English General, and an Indian princess. The restaurant has been the rendezvous of rich, famous, and fashionable lovers of Indian food.
Customers included Edward - Prince of Wales, King Gustav of Sweden, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin, King Hussein of Jordan, and Marlon Brando.
The décor which is luxurious, chic, and exotic reflects Veeraswamy’s heritage and evokes Maharaja's palaces of the 1920s. The silver painted ceiling has been lifted to its original height of 10 feet, while the dark wooden floor has been laid with handmade Moghul floral design carpets and Indian black granite speckled with gold.
Vividly coloured turbans belonging to the Indian Maharajas who frequented the restaurant in the early years are displayed on the walls. Kalighat style paintings from Bengal, which evolved during the first 20 years of the 20th century, adorn the restaurant. Silvered jali screens provide tantalising visual perspectives.
Edward Palmer had been greatly encouraged by friends and acquaintances after his successful running of the Mughal Palace in The Empire Exhibition at Wembley a few years before and he brought staff from India and created a traditional atmosphere such that it became called “The ex-Indian higher serviceman’s curry club”. Many of the people from all over India who were later to become the backbone of the new ‘curry’ restaurant industry, learned their trade at The Veeraswamy. In due course Veeraswamy's was sold to Sir William Steward, M.P., wjo ran the restaurant for 40 years. He travelled the world in order to source produce and was dubbed 'the curry king' by The Times. His other claim to fame is the introduction of curry in a can. The name of the restaurant was changed to The Veeraswamy during ownership by Sarova Hotels and to Veeraswamy under the present ownership.
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