My walk towards the Indian fine dining spot The Red Fort is a gritty yet beautiful one, going under the in-between-buildings bridge of Mannette Street, trotting on the cobbles that pave landmarks like Greek Street or Frith Street. It is past the latest that The Red Fort is located on, and believe me, it’s got none of the gritty but all of the beautiful.
The general manager, Prem Kumar, is not expecting me, but he is kind enough to give me some minutes of his time (I have to say in my defense, we did speak about this interview over the phone). The restaurant is empty, since it’s 10 o’clock in the morning, but I know Prem has probably been busy for an hour and a half already, laptop open in one of the dining tables and a myriad of papers scattered on top. Without any more ado, I start recording and so the interview begins:
For how long have you been working at The Red Fort?
I’ve been working here since 2002.
But the restaurant’s history is a much older one, right?
Yes, the Red Fort opened in Soho in 1983, and ever since it’s been bringing the flavours of Northern Indian cuisine to London.
And in all your years of hard toiling, is there any part of the job you don’t like?
I like everything, every surprise! Every day we face a new challenge, and I enjoy solving them. The restaurant has been active for 33 years, it’s seen all sorts, and it will continue to face many different situations.
What I like to call “The London Factor” is a big part in that, isn’t it?
Indeed, London is an extremely competitive market, with new restaurants bringing all sorts of concepts. But we know our presence in the market, and we are confident we are here to stay.
Something to reassure you is having won two awards in 2016.
That’s true, we have been given the award for Best Indian Restaurant in the Asian Voice Awards, as well as in the Asian Caterers Federation.
And well deserved! So far I’ve tried six different dishes at The Red Fort, all of them stunning! Which one is your favourite?
I have to say the jumbo tandoori prawns. They are subtly marinated and spiced, so the seafood flavour is not lost, and because of their size every bite is extremely juicy. Not to mention healthy!
Sounds mouth-watering! So we know the food is the main attraction here, but The Red Fort is also famous for the many celebrities that have been spotted dining here.
Yes, we are proud to have many artists, singers and other celebrities among our patrons.
What has been the most famous?
Well, just recently Tom Cruise! Also Tony Blair, Sir Richard Attenborough or even, back in the day, the Spice Girls.
Haha, yes. In any case, we like to make every customer feel like a star, always. So please, do come to visit us!
He doesn’t need to ask, and I will be glad to make my way through their menu, starting with the tandoori prawns. Not to mention that thanks to my ENTERTAINER app I can bring a friend and make use of a lovely Buy One Get One Free offer!