Growing up between Mumbai and London Samyukta Nair hails from something of an entrepreneurial dynasty. Many years ago her grandfather began exporting vegetable-dyed shirts from his native Kerala to Brooks Brothers in New York, and the family business snowballed from there. Now into it’s third-generation the business includes the Leela Palace Hotels and numerous restaurants. Wanting to bring a taste of Indian hospitality to London, Samyukta has now co-founded two Mayfair restaurants; the upmarket Michelin-starred Jamavar, and more recently the hip and buzzing Bombay Bustle. Here she shares her Insider London:
Where do you live?
Mayfair. I love it’s charming streets and elegant squares that are reminiscent of the 18th century. It’s dotted with buzzing restaurants, quaint cafes and boutiques alongside some of the biggest names in fashion and design and I feel incredibly blessed to call it home.
Which dish reminds you of home?
It’s hard to pick one dish in particular but a lot of the menu at Jamavar is inspired by my grandmother, Leela, who is a gourmand. Bombay Bustle is an ode to nostalgia and features many of Mumbai’s comfort dishes. This summer we are running a special seafood menu that combines a daily Devon catch with the spices of home to create things like Malvani Sukka Clams that are simmered in their shells with ladles of spicy coconut sauce. These remind me of my childhood summers spent in the backwaters of India with my grandparents.
Bombay Bustle is known for serving great cocktails as well as delicious food. What’s your favourite?
The Anugami, our version of an old fashioned.
What was the inspiration behind the decoration at Bombay Bustle?
The space is a reflection of Bombay’s train system, an offshoot of the first railway in British India. The tables have been produced especially for the restaurant by the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, and the dining room is inspired by an old first-class railway coach. I also wanted to echo the juxtaposition in modern Mumbai between vibrant art deco buildings and a kind of organised chaos – so there’s pink clay plaster walls with bottle green and candy pink leather upholstery.
What was the idea behind setting up the Women’s Club at Jamavar?
I’ve always felt as if women don’t celebrate themselves enough and essentially I wanted to create a space where they could. I grew up surrounded by such powerful and talented women and felt that a Women’s Club would be the perfect way for women to get together, share stories, ideas and be inspired by each other. Mayfair is traditionally known for gentlemen’s clubs, so it is a discreet antidote to that.
What have you got coming up?
The Women’s Club evenings run during the summer 30 July – 17 Sept, twice a month on Monday evenings and this year we have a really exciting range of speakers including broadcaster and writer, Edith Bowman, Savile Row’s first master tailor, Kathryn Sargent, the only double-Michelin starred female chef patron in the UK Hélène Darroze, and Olympic gold medallists, Kate Richardson-Walsh and Helen Richardson-Walsh her wife and teammate. Tickets cost £45 including a welcome drink, canapés and a three course dinner jamavarrestaurants.com.
Which Indian brands should be on our radar?
Clove, my concept store in Mumbai celebrates and showcases young and independent designers across India as an ode to everyday luxury. Our edit houses young labels such as IKAI by Ragini Ahuja, ITR by Khyati Pandey and THREE on the fashion front as well as beautiful hand crafted bed and table linen by Anavila, ceramics by Claymen and stoneware by Rayden amongst other brands that in being whimsical and light hearted stand for quality and represent the ethos of Clove and Indian design.
Which 3 items do you never travel without?
La Roche Posay’s Ultra-Light Spray SPF, Smith’s Rosebud Salve and Shea Butter hand cream by L’Occitane.
What’s exciting you about the future?
We’ll be celebrating Diwali at Jamavar on the 4thNovember with a Suits & Saree’s dinner, which is always a highlight in my calendar. We create a decadent menu and guests are encouraged to wear their finest attire, it’s glamorous and fun.