Most of the best high end restaurants are located in the posh hotels in New Delhi. They make for a nice change when you need a treat. They’re all on my map here. In order of preference…
The Imperial (Advanced A), Janpath Lane, Janpath, theimperialindia.com
This old colonial hotel on the next block from me was where I’d come when I needed a good cup of tea…
…or a stiff brandy from the bar.
There’s nothing like a bit of imperial splendour to make you feel pampered.
After a hard week I also treated myself to this uber posh and super modern hotel restaurant, also just around the corner from where I lived…
Eau de Monsoon (Advanced A), Le Meridien, Windsor Place, www.lemeridiennewdelhi.com
The views from both the top and the bottom of the atrium of this hotel are spectacular. You might want to take a lift ride to Henri’s Bar on the 20th floor first. Back on the ground floor, the restaurant is quite atmospheric with low lighting with water gushing down the interior plate glass windows.
As soon as I was seated I was greeted with a cold towel and a complimentary ‘Tomato Gazpacho Shot’. The waiter was friendly and seemed fairly knowledgeable about the menu so I asked for the most famous/popular dishes. He directed me to the Morsels of Chicken Tikka with Makhani Sauce and Pistachio Salt which upon arrival seemed to be just a normal Butter Chicken (a Delhi classic). It was very good (A) but no different from anywhere else. The Cauliflower with Fenugreek & Aromatic Spices was just another old favourite done especially well (A). I probably should have been more daring but went with my desire just for once. On the more experimental side I did have the Goat’s Cheese & Spinach Stuffed Kulcha, a combination that worked really well (A). I learned that ‘Aged’ Basmati Rice is older (duh!) and apparently tastes better. I stuck with beer rather than going for wine, the Indian names being the cheapest at 2000Rs. Next some complementary Mango Consommé with Prunes as a palate cleanser (B) before the Chocolate and Kulfi with ‘Pistachio Snow’ (just a tiny amount of grated nut) which looked sparse on the plate but had strong flavours that pressed all the right buttons, though I would have liked darker chocolate (B+). Finally, a couple more complementary items; another fancy chocolate with a shot of Paan (Betel Leaf) whizzed up with 7 Up! This was my first experience of paan although I immediately recognised the smell which is reminiscent of soap. Fortunately it tastes better.
So was it worth the 4000Rs? Well, when compared to Bukhara, ‘the best restaurant in town’ (see below), I enjoyed the experience a bit more. The service was better and the food faultless albeit pretentiously named. However they didn’t have a ‘meal deal’ so it ended up being more expensive. I liked the little extras which always go down well and the seating is more comfortable. Like all posh hotels they pocket your small change rather than rounding down which is annoying. I also didn’t like the fact they are too poncy to pack your leftovers which I usually gave to people sleeping rough on my street.
Finally I went for a drink in Henri’s Bar on the 20th floor from where you get a good view of India Gate which is lit up at night. They serve a mediocre Margarita (100Rs cheaper than the restaurant at 400Rs) but the vista makes it worth it.
Bukhara (Advanced B+), ITC Maurya, Sardar Patel Marg, Akhaura Block, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, www.itchotels.in
Thought I’d treat myself to what is described by Lonely Planet as ‘the best restaurant in town’ after a hard two week slog at work. The restaurant is located in the uber posh ITC Maurya. Famous guests such as President Obama have eaten here. Before the food arrived I was allowed into the kitchen to see the tandoor and meet the chef, a huge guy you wouldn’t want to mess with!
The Dahl was one of the best I’d ever tasted (A+) and the Raita was made with a lovely creamy yogurt (A). Chicken Malai (A), chunks of chicken marinated in cream and yogurt. The Seekh Kebab was okay (B), the Garlic Naan very good (B+). Included in the set was a plate of delicious Kulfi (A). I finished with a mediocre Margarita (C+), the most expensive one I’d had so far in Delhi at 630Rs.
My only real gripe was that the plates were stone cold and I was right under the a/c so my lovely kebabs became cold really quickly (C). I told the manager when he came to ask how I was but all he said was he’d relay the feedback to the chef and nothing else was done. Not good considering how much they are charging.
However, I’d go again, just choose where I’m sitting more carefully.
India International Centre (High Intermediate B+) , 40 Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate
The IIC is a prestigious hotel and restaurant although it’s 1960s facilities are rather old and faded now. However it’s cheaper than the more modern hotels and the food is pretty good.
Sakura (High Intermediate B+), Metropolitan Hotel, Bangla Sahib Road, Gole Market, Sector 4, Connaught Place, Sector 4, Gole Market,
Much as I loved Indian cuisine, I did crave a bit of variety. Japanese food is my default setting in this case and this restaurant was the best one I found in Delhi. Most of the clientele are Japanese which is always a good sign. Go for a Teishoku set meal for the best value.
Another good place for a change is Gung The Palace, a very authentic Korean at D-1/B, Green Park, near Aashirwad Complex, Block D, Green Park (bit of a trek from CP).
A few more mid-range restaurants around New Delhi next…