From the popular butter chicken to fresh fruit smoothies and slow-sipping Negronis, Delhi has a dish and a drink for every traveller. Find a dining outlet around the Capital with this gastronomical guide, compiled through personal experiences
1. Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli
It offers Mediterranean, European, Italian cuisines. Olive is where you enjoy the meal in cool Mediterranean surroundings. It is all white décor, pebbled grounds, well-lit garden seating and oodles of sophisticated art and favoured by arty Page 3 lot. The flavours are light, lots of green, fruits and fresh dips, plating is also an arty affair here. Anyone will enjoy the greens and pickled veggies. Then there’s freshly ground salsa. The portions serve two people easily. Ended the meal with an Espresso Martini, which is black coffee’s cold cousin.
To try: Pan Grilled Scottish Salmon, Nantua, Grilled Jumbo Prawns, Mango Panna Cotta, Chocolate Fondant. The Dirty Martini, a striking cocktail bar set in the 1920s with a treetop terrace overlooking the Qutub Minar, offers some of the best martinis in town. Open: 12-3.30pm; 7.30-12pm
It offers Turkish, Modern Indian, European cuisines. The tapas bar has taken traditional flavours to another level. The décor is also very Spanish with a dome-like ceiling and a horse-shoe shaped bar. Cocktails from Nectar, the bar, are made from cold pressed juices, fresh herbs and home-made infusions. Saffronisation comprised coffee and bourbon. Scarlet had berries, flowers and strawberries.
The Beetroot Carpaccio is a mean fresh eel nigiri. The pork ribs are melt-in-the-mouth. Pork Khurchan Bao is another good dish. Then there are dimsums. The Peanut Butter and Jam and the signature Coco and Soil desserts are yum. The dessert tree made of five kinds of chocolates must be savoured. The ingredients are fresh and the presentation an art. Good music, peppy lighting and small helpings symbolize the food at La Roca. Open: 1pm – 1am
This retail-cum-dining outlet offers a plethora of finger-licking Pan-Asian dishes in colourful surroundings. It offers a delicious array of tapas, starters and plated delicacies. Flowers, artefacts, paintings, colourful sofas and a huge bar—what more would a diner need to feel good.
The menu has about 16 different dumplings. Must try are Crystal Dumplings with a crunchy filling of chestnuts, carrots and mushroom. salt. Another must try here is White Fungus Chicken which is minced chicken with a dash of Asian herbs and bird chilli. Another treat is the Chicken Puffsome filled with roasted chicken and mixed with five spices. Spicy Barbecued Chicken is a yummy saga. The chicken is marinated with Szechuan pepper-infused oil overnight. Signature cocktail Elderflower and Blue Berries is good. There’s sushi, pizza, rolls, soups and more on the menu. Dessert worth a try is Plum Tropical Fruit Citrus Cheesecake which comes with diced apple and pomegranates. Open: 12noon – 1am
This offers European and Asian cuisine. The cool, flowery ambience is quite a bright spot. It is located above The Piano Man, which is famous for its jazz evenings. Light flavours and fresh ingredients are the mainstay here. There’s Hungarian Mushroom soup with fragrant herbs and mushrooms with dollops of sour cream. Other interesting ones are Seafood Chowder, Vietnamese Chicken Pho and Pumpkin and Peanut Butter soup.
The Beetroot, Orange and Feta salad is a cool one. Then there’s Pesto Chicken and Sundried Tomato salad. Korean nachos and Steamed Aubergine with Sesame and Spring Onion are good. The nachos come with khimchi salsa. Interesting mini bakes are Ratatouille, Eggplant and Zucchini Parmigiana and Keemaroni. The Orange and Chilli Chocolate Mousse is a good way to end the meal. Open: 1pm – 12midnight
It serves Italian food, Tuscany-style. Light airy interiors, a menu to suit all palettes, Caffe Tonino offers a healthy mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Italian food has all kinds of flavours, especially who love eating greens. The salads and lasagnes are a great way to satiate your stomach. There’s also Pizza Sandwich, V Insalata di Barbabietole e Caprino, Inslata Caesar. The salads are fresh and light. Inslata di Barbabietole comprises beetroot, artichokes, goat cheese, sunflower seeds and house dressing. Beet’s Beauty is a healthy mix of beet root and cranberry juice. Dessert to try is Arabian Honey Cake–a dry cake best paired with a strong coffee. There’s also Strucatti Pizza. Open: 11:30am-11pm
The menu is designed around progressive world cuisine. There’s Italian, North Indian and more. With extensive use of fresh fruits, there is a special Barracks Molecular Mixology menu. A good one is Regiment Spring Cocktail which has cucumber, basil and lemon juices mixed with cointreau. Gunner is made with watermelon juice and Chief of Staff has orange juice with a good dose of vodka and cointreau.
With a preference of local and imported ingredients to enhance local flavours, the portions are good. Chicken and paneer dishes are popular. Other intesrting ones are kumbh kee galouti, dahi ke kabab, chicken duet tikka. The army-styled café has a seating capacity of 125 people. Despite the rifles, guns and pistols around you, no one carries them on person! Open: 12noon – 1am
This offers Continental, Italian, Chinese and Pizzas. Owned by Manipur native, Pooja Moirangthem, this offers wine and beer too. Elektra wine cocktail with Lemon Chicken and Chicken Momos is good. The serving is large enough to suffice two people. As the name suggests, you will find your favourite comics Batman, Superman, Chacha Chaudhary, Phantom and more here. Open: 11am-Midnight
A place for kebabs and kadi chicken—the well-rounded spices and good techniques make the experience a flavourful one. Lawrence road ki tikki is softer and melt-in-the-mouth; Tawa chicken chaap not-to-be-missed. The food has been kept a little lighter than the dishes you would taste in Punjab. The marination, spices, chutneys and pickles add to the flavours.
Another interesting dish is the bharwan omelette and comes with a choice of chilli chicken or chilli paneer, served with garlic naan. Another must eat is tawa ananas. Ending this Punjabi meal was the unique dhaba da meetha—a layered combination of vanilla ice cream, shahi tukda and mini gulab jamun with saffron rabri. Famous for the tawa, tandoor and patila dishes. Open: 12noon – 1:30am
The buffet here reminds you of times when the king’s army feasted after a victory. The interesting part is the grill in the middle of your table. The food is complemented with mocktails and ice-smoothies. Famous dishes are paneer, prawn and chicken tikkas.Not to miss are Cilantro Sui Mai, Bhatti da Murgh, Firangi Prawns Tikka and Churrasco Pineapple. Among the many starters on offer, these are a must-not-miss. Interesting mocktails are Masala Cola and Pirates Devil.
The main course offers a choice of Mongolian live platters and lots of Indian dishes. I loved the pakoda kadi with some missi roti and pudina paratha. Among the desserts, there’s crisp jalebi and a round of live Tepanayaki Ice Cream. But there’s a lot more. The marinades and spices blend perfectly with the palate of the Indians living in the northern belt. Even though, it’s a lot of food, nothing is heavy and the ambience suits the young and the old alike. Open: 12noon – 4pm, 6:30pm – 11pm
This takeaway is famous for its delicious handi biryanis. Packed Indian style, the warm earthen pots had silver foil covering. Beneath lies a seal of dough. On unwrapping, the room is filled with aroma of spices. The long grained basmati rice and vegetables in one and chicken in the other, these come with raita, chutney and some curry. It’s blended with flavours of cinnamon, green cardamom, curd, green chilli, saffron, chicken.
One mini handi could work well for a single person. And Deez has many outlets across Delhi-NCR. Coming from a family of hunters, ex-NRI Daleep Singh, with a vast experience of over 40 years in handling multiple national and international businesses, founded DėėZ Biryani Corner over three decades back.
He revived this Mughal dish. Chef Abdul Ali of Lucknow (belonging to the clan of famous chef Imthiaz Qureshi), who was later former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s personal chef at Hyderabad House,, was engaged for the authentic Awadhi cooking. Ever since DeeZ has been maintaining the same taste and quality.
The most popular biryani has been the DeeZ special biryani which is an in-house recipe created by Chef Abdul Ali way back in 1987. Deez has periodically launched new biryanis from different regions like Pakistani Biryani (a Sindhi-style biryani), Hyderabadi biryani, Heart Healthy biryani (a zero cholesterol, zero transfat, low calorie biryani for the health conscious), and Dilli 6 biryani, the famous old Delhi style biryani.
The USP of DeeZ is in the fact that it gives DUM to all its biryanis in handis (Patented concept of DeeZ) which are available in six different sizes that serve up to 60 people from a single handi. The handis keep the biryanis hot and fresh upto three hours. Apart from this DeeZ is the only biryani chain that provides biryanis from more than five regions and is constantly adding more biryanis to its menu. Open: 11am-11pm
With a legacy going back six decades, the outlet offers Nizami biryani, coming straight from Hyderabad. It was started in September 1953 at Secunderabad in Telangana (erstwhile Andhra Pradesh) as a small 100-seater restaurant-cum-provisional store, targeting the people visiting Paradise theatre. Though the theatre shut down, the café continued. Between 1978 and 1996, there was re-structuring, renovation and modernisation to match the evolving food habits. In 2004, the management decided to expand to other cities and other localities in Hyderabad. Now, it has more than 20 national outlets.
With focus on keeping the ingredients authentic and food close to the original flavours, chefs have been trained in Hyderabad in the parent kitchen. For those who want their daily dose of north Indian fare, there is the traditional butter chicken and dal makhni on offer. Open: 11am-11pm.
Paatra, meaning vessel, has a relaxed ambience with wide chairs and a live kitchen. All the lost North Indian recipes are on the menu here. The restaurant has an iron tandoor. Everything here is about good ingredients and great preparations. The best part is that the cooking style is in sync with authentic flavours. If a tandoor is needed, it will be procured to keep the authenticity alive. The restaurant even makes its own pickles.
Dipping kababs and Dum ki Pasliyan into the fresh mint chutney, the meats are marinated to perfection. At Paatra, nothing is hurried. Whisky is the most popular drink with Indian cuisine here. Dal Tadka is another popular item and starters with chicken are a favourite. The restaurant can even cater to Jains and vegetarians with their special needs. Open: 12.30pm – 3.30pm; 7.30pm – 11.45 pm
This place offer healthy salads, sandwiches, burgers and beverages—a mix of Italian and American food. The restaurant is filled with aroma of fresh ingredients. The menu comprises pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, bowl meals and starters. Drinks are fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, soups, teas and coffees. The brainchild of Dhruv Chawla and Aanandita Chawla, the café is named after the tall Getafix from Asterix comics. ‘Get a fix’ is about guilt-free indulgence.
This café is interesting for its handpainted wall, books rack and cozy reading section, teal-lime green-yellow colours, quinoa burger, bowl meals, air fried fish and chips, jaggery-based desserts, free wi-fi. Open: 10am-10pm
2. Keventers Milkshakes & Ice Creams
With a legacy going back around 100 years, the first milkshake from this dairy came to the public in 1925. With many classic flavours and new ones, it is a mean bottle of milk. The four classic flavours are Vanilla, Butterscotch, Kesar Pista and Strawberry. The milk is fresh and the quantity enough to make you feel you need to walk around a bit to let it settle in the body. The bottles are reminiscent of the days gone by when the milkman left them on the doorstep. Among the new flavours is Choco Peanut butter with crunchy peanuts, Mint Oreo is refreshing, and then there’s the pink Tutti Frutti. The outlets also offer gelato. Open: 10am – 10am
This casual dining café serves European, Continental, Italian, fast food. This café is right opposite the famous Gargi and Kamla Nehru colleges, hence there is no alcohol and non-vegetarian food. The décor is very cosy and friendly with a wooden swing, plants, terrace. The ambience is light, airy and homely. The red wooden bricks on the live kitchen, little tea pots on the side, a tree painted on a white wall, Diggin makes you feel relaxed. There is a bakery on the ground floor and wooden seating on the outside. It has a special DU or Delhi University menu at a nominal price for students with ID cards.
The founder Digvijay Singh was inspired by his stay in London and the restaurant carries many British nuances. There is a choice from soups and salads. Diggin Special Salad comes with apples, chicken, roasted beets. In starters, Crispy Zucchini Fries and Bacon Stuffed Chicken Legs are a must try for all meat lovers. The pizzas are thin crusts and topped with fresh flavours. The Ravioli is filled with spinach, broccoli and ricotta cheese blend. The Chocolate Fondant is a must eat. There is a variety of sandwiches and burgers. The place has positive vibes and a cool ambience. Open: 11:30 am to 11 pm
The day you look for that quiet, dark corner to sink into, then Nero could be your choice. With its dim lighting, black walls, you could just melt into the walls without anyone giving a damn. All you got to remember is that this is a place for some hi-end unwinding, nothing ostentatious works, except the wallet and maybe a shine of the silver sitting stools.
The black bar reminds one of the ancient dukes and duchesses and hidden secret agendas with its high-backed chairs sitting against the wall. I preferred the sitting space in the centre with silver stools. With some yummy broccoli to go with the Negroni, Nero is a time to share your secrets because what happens in Nero, remains in Nero.
The place is best known for its sparkling cocktails and there are around five good ones which are packaged to suit the ‘destination unlocked’ mantra that the parent company Starwood has adopted for Le Meridiens across the globe. The experts take the best picks of spices and ingredients of the location and develop drinks around that. The fusion goes thus:
- Negroni, a mix of Campari, Vermouth and dash of orange, is for those who like the bitter drinks.
- Amore with its five spices, honey infused grappa and Spumante (the famous Italian sparkling white wine) was another good one. I think the ladies would enjoy the sweet taste and the subtle flavour of the spices.
- Mizzle, if you like creamy drinks. This was not my kind of a drink. Made of Amarula (creme liquor from South Africa), black pepper and soda water, this has a melted ice cream like taste but the black pepper does add a twist.
- London Mule made of Gin, fresh lime, ginger and ginger beer. I didn’t try this but the gin lovers said go for it. It takes time to prepare and must be enjoyed with a lot of snacks and gossip.
- Bavarian Mojito with Larger, fresh mint lime and brown sugar was a healthy mix of honey and mint. A drink for all times.
The menu has a range of 76 cocktails, besides the regulars. A dash to Nero could really add some sparkle to a dull evening. Open: 11am- 12:59am (alcohol is not served on dry days)
Greeted by the blue-green scooter, the two wheeler ride for which Italy is well known, Grappa has a cool alfresco space too. This can be a romantic heaven with the lush gardens giving it a zing. Small platters and cocktails from Grappa, it is a fun place to be in. The orange-flavoured bitter Grappa Negroni went well with bruchettas, salads, and more–all this comes under the Cicchetti (small platters) umbrella. This Negroni has flavours
of Campari, Martini Rosso, and orange and lemon bitters. What I would recommend is Baked artichoke romana with hazelnut chili crumble and fontina glaze; Lightly fried wild mushrooms, olives, pickled chili, blue cheese dip; Roasted chicken, wild mushrooms, parmesan snow. Grappa entices with its well-stocked bar and cool platters. Open: 3pm to 1am
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