Anusuiya and Marut Sikka’s spiffy new restaurant is both audacious and ambitious. The décor is uber modern and the fare accentuated with flair.
The good stuff
We dropped in with children, and just so that we could have our own space we opted for Izaara, the private dining area for 10 where even the temperature is controlled to suit your needs. You can play your own music (of course, you will have to carry your iPod or CD) and even carry a DVD to watch while you eat.
Indeed, I see Izaara morphing into a fine party zone in times to come. It has its own private entrance, complete with valet parking. The other part of the restaurant, which is for adults only, seats 62 people and currently reservation is not necessary here (as it is in Izaara).
The drinks menu was inventive: The Aam Panna (all cocktails cost Rs400, taxes included) spiked with vodka was deliciously discreet. The flavour of the panna keeps the temperamental vodka under control. The Keya Magic with vodka, sambuca and an actual betel leaf, was loud yet lovely. The Worcestershire sauce in the Mast Guava did it for me. The children gave their thumbs up to the Keya Lychee-ade (Rs175, taxes included).
The restaurant has a more-than-respectable repertoire of starters. We tucked into the flavourful Tandoor Smoked Tiger Prawns with spring onions, curry leaves and coriander. The Lamb Spare Ribs steeped in milk and pepper melted in the mouth. You are encouraged to chew the bones as well. The Lamb Mince pâtés, pounded with roasted pepper and cloves, dum cooked, were tender. Equally interesting were the Shad Rus—the six sauces served with the starters. Each sauce highlighted a different flavour—sweet, salty, bitter, sour, hot, astringent. We were told that these were Marut’s labours of love and all recipes were created after rigorous research.
It is my theory that Marut has “tapased” the typical Indian starter. Which is why the Bespoke Thali (Rs925 for vegetarian and Rs975 for non-vegetarian, taxes extra) that comes as a main course was just the right quantity for me. You get to choose six dishes from the non-vegetarian section or six from the vegetarian from among a total of 24 options. The rule is not clad in iron, mercifully. You can also flirt between the two options.
The Kofti Boti Biryani (a part of the thali) was one of the lightest biryanis I have sampled. I thought the addition of mutton koftas was a talented twist. The lamb chops were succulent and the yogurt with crispy okra was splendid. Stuffed kulchas—you can ask for stuffings of your choice—are served with the thali; or you may ask for any other kind of Indian bread. If you are not sharing the thali, you can ask for refills at no extra charge.
The service was a tad slow—pardonable, given these are early days. The music in the section outside Izaara needs some help. The dal makhani was below my personal expectations and the Dum-ki-Gobi too must have seen better days.
A meal for two without alcohol gets swiped for Rs2,000. If you add grog, it’s about Rs2,800. For reservations, call 011-41016844.
Swapan Seth, CEO, Equus Red Cell, loves food.