Lounge review: DEL, New Delhi

DEL at Aerocity has some delicious and strikingly refined food, but the service needs serious work


Interior of DEL
Interior of DEL

A coffee shop named DEL, after the Delhi airport code? You can’t but wonder why a restaurant would attempt to evoke any mix of airport and food but, as you enter Roseate House (formerly the Dusit D2) at Aerocity and walk into DEL, the elegance and quiet of the space assure you that it is nothing like an airport.

A long and wide light grey-toned space that segues into an open kitchen, the restaurant seats 130: The tables take up the centre while couch configurations along the glass walls overlook water bodies and lush gardens. A private dining room with its own sky roof is on offer too.

DEL changes its menu at every mealtime. The menus for Le Petit Dejeuner, Lunch, Between Hours and After Hours are considerably shorter than the Dinner menu— which is when I chose to go. They apparently have plans for a separate weekend menu. At the end of every dish is a city code denoting where the dish came from, ranging from LUH (Ludhiana) to LBG (Le Bourget, Paris)

While awaiting my delayed guests I chose a couch to overlook the garden — a choice I regretted immediately. The heavy, oversized seat looked good but was extremely uncomfortable.

Beetroot and Burrata Salad
Beetroot and Burrata Salad

The good stuff

We started with a Chicken and Wild Mushroom Soup (Rs700), an exquisitely delicate mushroom broth with two tortellini lightly stuffed with minced chicken and mushroom. Light and divine. The Beetroot and Burrata Salad (Rs1000), which followed, comprised a beautifully plated burrata in the centre surrounded by slow-roasted, honey-mustard-red wine vinegar-marinated beetroot slices. One often needs to sprinkle sea salt and additional dressing on a burrata but this needed nothing extra: The delightful mix of sweet and tart flavours complimented the stringy yet soft burrata perfectly.

Tortellini
Tortellini

In the mains, the finest dish for me was the Tortellini (Rs1200), glorious in its simplicity. The tortellini dough (made of 50% flour and 50% semolina) retained the firmness on the plate but melted in the mouth. It was stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese and came in an orange butter broth. Delicate refinement.

We next tried the Gosht Aur Gucchi Pulao (Rs1100) a striking New Zealand shank of lamb marinated overnight in Indian spices and served with Jammu morel rice. What the shank lacked in depth of taste was made up more than amply by the most delicate meat sauce. Indian in taste, it was skimmed and strained like a delicate European sauce. I could have had a whole bowlful as soup.

The not-so-good

Just as I was getting excited by the menu, I was told the three things I asked for— the Guinness Steak Pie, the Bratwurst and the Lumaconi— were unavailable. All of them use alcohol which, apparently, DEL hasn’t been able to procure because of ongoing liquor licence issues. I wish they had simply left them off the menu.

The service was strikingly lackadaisical and misinformed, in contrast to the fine food. I noted we were only one of three tables seated.

After the meal, I asked for the dessert and coffee menu. Neither was on offer because they said the chef was “still deciding” what to put on it. However, they mentioned they had a brownie, rasmalai and gulab jamun. When we ordered a rasmalai, they directed us to a buffet laid out for a private group to help ourselves.

Still, I’ll be back to sample the lunch and tea sometime soon.

Talk plastic

A meal for three (two beers, one glass of wine, one soup, 2 appetisers, 2 mains) cost us Rs7843 inclusive of taxes.

DEL, Roseate House, Asset 10, Hospitality District, Aerocity, New Delhi 110037. For reservations call 71558825. Open 24x7.

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