Work was too busy for me to cook for myself so I went out every night which meant that I tried pretty much everywhere with a rep in a fairly short space of time.
My map is here.
See my other posts for dosas, thalis and higher end food. These were my favourite bars and restaurants at the mid to lower end…
MID RANGE RESTAURANTS
Zaffran (Advanced A), Palace Heights Hotel, Second Floor, 26/28 F Block
My favourite restaurant in CP. It’s modern both in terms of decor and menu and has a friendly manager and attentive though slightly fussy service.
I can recommend the Chicken Boti Masala (A), chicken shaslik in a spicy capsicum and onion curry, the Gobi Masaledar cauliflower cooked with a masala (B) and the Jeera Rice (B) served with Raita (B+). They do a good Gulab Jamun, deep fried mild solids in sugar syrup, for dessert (A).
Pind Balluchi (Intermediate B) Regal Building, 1211 Sansad Marg, corner with Connaught Circle (Outer Ring), www.pindballuchi.com
A very popular Punjabi restaurant that doesn’t feature in the guides for some reason. The decor is very cheesy, simulating a village in the Punjab (Pind means’village’). I would go early to avoid queueing after 20.30.
I really liked the Murg Malai depending which chef is on (A/B). I also quite liked their chicken Kalmi Kebabs (B), Chicken and Fish Tikka (B), Palak Paneer (B) and Butter Naan (B). For something different try the yogurt-filled Dahi ke Kebab (B), pictured. To finish, the Rasmalai, rice dumplings soaked in spiced, sweetened milk, are also nice (B).
I’d avoid the their Meat Bhuna (C), Makki de Roti (C), Pind Choli (C-), the Aam Panna (D) a mango based drink. The Lassis are good (B) but very stingy and small.
Kwality (Intermediate B/C), 7 Regal Building, Sansad Marg
Another old school spot with too many waiters and managers, some good some not. The food is pretty average (B/C) but it’s the nearest place to my flat and the beer is very cheap so I essentially use it as a pub.
For something different get their Bhatura (B+) which is basically a huge puri, a giant oily puff ball chapatti.
The Nan Kalaunji (B+), a plain naan except for a topping of black seeds, is very good. The Murg Malai Kebab (chicken and cheese marinated in yogurt, cream and cooked in the tandoor) is pretty good (B), but then anything with Malai (clotted cream) is going to taste good.
Their Rogan Josh, with lamb on the bone, is hotter than I’m used to (B-). The Channa (C), chick peas in a dark sauce (bottom left in the pic), is their speciality apparently which doesn’t bode well. The Navrattan Veg (nine kinds of veg in a mild gravy, garnished with dry fruits) is edibile but not for me (C-).
The old guy who opens the door always looks very correct and does a good military salute but I’ll never forget being the last one to leave one night and finding him in his underpants outside the door. Surely he could have waited to change until he got home!
Supposed mid-range places that I wasn’t that keen on include Embassy, United Coffee House and Zen.
Nizam’s Kathi Kebab (Elementary B+), PVR CInema Plaza H-5&6, PVR Cinema Road, Marg, www.nizams.com
A very popular takeaway. I liked to have the mutton kebab wrapped in a fried bread which is delicious (A) but you can feel the calories piling on. Once I also tried a glass of Jal-jeera, a cumin flavoured lemonade which I don’t think will ever grow on me (D).
Wenger’s (Intermediate B) 16 A Block, Inner Circle
If you feel the need for a sweet after Nizam’s go to the deli section down the side of Wenger’s for a Bread & Butter Pudding (B) and a Mango Smoothie (B). It’s like an American fast food joint, except it isn’t very fast. Open since 1924 apparently. Go to the main shop at the front for cakes, bakes etc.
Nirula’s (Elementary B), M-57, Shankar Market, Block M, www.nirulas.com
This fast food joint (apparently the first chain ever in Delhi) is right next door to Sagar Ratna. I came here for the ice cream and to get my chocolate fix with a cup of Funky Fudge topped with Hot Choclate Fudge. It definitely pressed all the right buttons (A). Not sure if the rest of the food is any good though.
Veda (Advanced A), 27 H Block, Outer Circle, Tropical Building, Block H
My favourite bar Delhi. I really like it for the over the top decor (big crystal trimmed mirrors, leather banquettes, low red lights and candles), the super chilled atmosphere and the fact they make the best Margarita in town.
There are two sides with different entrances, the lounge bar with a DJ playing chilled house, and the restaurant with an ambient soundtrack. The bar sells food too but I’ve only eaten in the restaurant. The Grilled Lamb Chops are good (B). The Crispy Spinach was a first for me (B+). They also do the best plain steamed Basmati Rice in CP (A).
QBA (Intermediate B), First Floor, E-42 & 43, Inner Circle, Connaught Place, Block E
This is a well known club with a restaurant but I come here for the nice view over CP from the upstairs outside balcony. The drinks aren’t the cheapest but it’s the only outdoor drinking with a view that I know of in Delhi.
The Margarita Test:
I do love a margarita but I’m very fussy as it takes skill to get it right. So if somewhere makes it well, the odds on they‘ll make other cocktails well too. I like to think of the Margarita as a basic litmus test for the quality of the bar and the barman. All prices are before the extortionate 20% government tax.
Veda (A). Perfect! And served in beautiful surroundings by nice people at the right price for only 325Rs.
Zaffran (B+). A good attempt but a little weak. Well priced at 320Rs.
Taj Palace Hotel (B). This posh hotel does have one of the best bars in town, so a bit disappointed my Margarita was bit watery and not served in a coupe due to being on the rocks (why no crushed ice?). It was fairly decent though, as it should be for 650Rs.
Henri’s Bar in Le Meridien Hotel (B). A mediocre drink with no ice for 400Rs.
Bukhara at the ITC Maurya Hotel (C). Another expensive one, Barman bodged it, Very mediocre.
Embassy (C). Strong but small and served in a wine glass with more ice than drink.
Rodeo (C). Average and very expensive at 520Rs. Saddles for bar stools and waiters with Stetsons and wooden pistols in holsters. Too much for me.
Zen (C-). Looked kind of right, but tasted awful. 350Rs.
Park Hotel (D). A beautiful bar outside by the pool but the Margarita was very weak, tasted horrible and was served in a plastic coupe, presumably for safety reasons.
More food next…