Gaggan

Kuh-ggannn, is how our cab driver read it to us. I was excited for we had planned this for sometime. The moment the cab stopped, I thought we were entering someone’s residence. Someone posh, someone classy and elegant. As we usher in, I get the feeling of being at the right place at the right time.

Subtle noises, clinking of glasses and hushed laughter fill in the room, along with the black bus boys meandering in the middle. We are seated on the extreme left end on a corner table –  nice for us to have our conversation, away from everyone else, until another couple joins in soon to sit to the far right end of the corner.

We settle for the most elaborate, between 14-16 course Best of Gaggan Tasting Menu, not wanting to miss out on anything. Vegetarian for me and non-vegetarian for him. Once we choose the fancy drinks, we sit back, ready to be lured and get on the gastronomic journey that Gaggan promises.

The drinks, I have to admit floored me at once. I forgot what it was called, but it came in a coconut shell with all of its smoky flavour AND the smoke, little like Pina colada to sip on. Ah! The jazz that it started with, i was loving it already. And believe you me, it happens so rare!

It will turn out to be a very long post if i go on describing each course, and will totally lose the point. So i’ll stick to what held my sway and what swayed off.

Starting with a bunch of mini-bites that kept coming in the span of half an hour had me on a roll. The white-chocolate golgappas were definitely innovative for me, what with that edible packet of nuts on the side and a yoghurt bubble that bursts in the mouth. Beautifully decorative and deliciously textured bites were in the order, and I could hardly keep my hands off it. At one point it was hard to differentiate between the presentation platter and the food that was served on it. To have a sneak-peek you can always go to their page and drool over.

Next up was the soup. I mean who can ever fall in love with a soup? Sure they can fall in soup. but this .. here.. was.. sheer.. orgasm. The truffle soup, the way it came, the way it smelled, the way it smoked, it was love at first sight, smell and taste. I could hold on to that little rock and make love to it while I sipped little sips of it so it goes on forever and ever. This was my nirvana. And I did not want it to get over. I moaned unapologetically.

That was the highest point of my entire meal. The charcoal, although exquisitely presented couldn’t have possibly kept up with the truffle soup. And it was not meant to either. Subtle, gooey, it was the surprise element that it was supposed to be. Later, followed by other familiar flavours and textures, I was beginning to get full but the presentation kept alluring me no matter what. I ordered another drink that I remember the name of. Sexy Poison was served in a glass with a cat tail, and tasted like an elixir. There was a certain fun element that most of the dishes and drinks flaunted. The way it was written, presented or tasted, it was sort of a tease throughout. A bit of this with a bit of that seemed easy to pursue.

Meanwhile we spotted a loner ordering shorter version of Tasting Menu. He would nod at himself while eating, a little too often. Like he was justifying that he has come for the sole pleasure of eating and nothing else. Like its not a social place but a place where they serve your taste buds only. He had to be a banker, I at once thought; an investment banker to be precise. Who comes alone in a destination restaurant that is currently at no.3 and pitted to be the no.1 restaurant in Asia?

Well, the story doesn’t end here. He’s then seated on the table that’s between the two couples which is us. Did I mention, we’d got talking to the other couple discussing the food and drinks and restaurants, and life and it had become quite a group affair, until the gentleman butted right in. I saw him enjoying his chhole chawal with a lot of chaw (interest). All awkward, he decides to strike a conversation with the other couple. Seemingly disinterested, they give in out of courtesy, while we all slyly wait for him to leave. His dessert is now over, and the waiter signals for him to leave. Whats funny was how shocked he appeared and sorry he felt to be leaving the table that he had just interrupted with.

I was only glad with the way waiters use their discretion at such places. Thats one of the things that makes this place such top-notch. Not to my surprise, he confirmed that he works at Morgan Stanley, Hongkong before leaving us to get back to our merrymaking and dessert courses.

With some ostentatious dehydrated miso look, the desserts looked very Japanese except the Lollipops that were crumbly on the outside and yummy on the inside. I felt like complaining how this could be Indian, but then again, just a thought later I knew how diversified India truly is. So no matter how far away you go from making Indian, or variate it on multiple levels, it could still somehow easily belong to atleast one of our states, or city.

Indian Accent

It been over a month and a half that I went to this restaurant. I can’t claim for my memories to be fresh that I still remember the taste. However what I do remember is that it was different in a way that Indian cuisine isn’t supposed to be. Not greasy yet fulfilling, light yet varied, Indian yet had an European touch. None of those elaborate saucy-curry like spreads or a mix of all that you can’t tell what has gone in. Simplicity of flavours intact along with complexity of textures, is what makes Indian cuisine. The way it’s presented in mind-boggling forms makes it modern.

Now that we have defined roughly what modern Indian cuisine is, I wonder whats the market viability of such a restaurant within the Indian market. Like someone recently said, people don’t buy a Louis Vuitton everyday, but sure they will go splurge on the street almost daily without a second thought. So is there truly any business value and sustainability in an instance like this? Well.. i don’t know. But I’d sure like to see where it goes and how.

Everyone craves temple food once in a while but would they appreciate it as much if they had it everyday? I had similar thoughts after I’d had my pig-out session with my sisters with the tasting menu last month. The restaurant is known for its classic twist and top-notch clientage, not to forget the celebrated chef whose first-mover advantage in this segment in the country has gone to make it the acclaimed restaurant that it is today. So i have a mixed bag of a story to tell.

A three-hour traffic barely goes for a good opening to any evening, and would usually end up in a brawl in Delhi, except in this case where it was a determined drive to explore this restaurant no-matter-what. In a place that is hard to find, nestled in some corner of a colony that makes you walk and wonder if all this trouble is worth the effort. I was making mental notes to trash the restaurant for all the inconvenience it caused me even before i dined there.

Gladly, it’s not going to be that. All the doubts are soon put to rest once you set foot inside the club like environment and see families happily enjoying some classical music with their food and few hi-flying executives equally engrossed with their phones and plates alone. It’s not unusual, but not a usual feel as you enter an Indian restaurant in a five-star hotel. This one is bustling in a continental way. And i forget all about my traffic woes immediately.

It’s difficult to not appreciate the exceptionally well curated courses and pin down the quirks in the ingredients used. Just to summarise, I loved the blue cheese naan-lets for starters and beetroot tikkis with wasabi chutney. The potion control through little shapes and sizes is just whats needed where you can’t decide when to stop. The khandvi ravioli with cheese arbi mash, and the potato sphere chaat was nicely deviant while the baingan bharta cornetto.. left me quite offbeat and curious throughout.

The dessert platter was another playground of all the distinguished flavours and textures that round off the meal on another queer high. Am still contemplating if its time to go back and mull in a familiar yet a contrast of taste, that only Indian Accent can justify.

Le Bistro du Parc

Recently FoodTalkIndia organised a vegetarian dinner…wait for it.. at a french Bistro!
Considering this time of the year, the festivity during Navratras and the abstinence few people force upon themselves to feel less guilty, was probably reason enough. But when was french cuisine known for its vegetarianism? To me, it was an irony of sorts. I wondered about my last authentic french dinner which had gooey memories of cheese and sauce and indigestion cause of too much lactose. So I was left intrigued about this one.

Since I couldn’t make it for the dinner, I didn’t wait long enough either and went for a luncheon the very next day with a girlfriend. Please note it was still hot outside, and winters far away in sight.

We sauntered in through a shady looking market to this place and the transformation from menial to major happened in a step or two. I pushed the glass door open to enter. A mental window clicked open too. I blame the french monsieur who greeted me with a wide smile and ‘Hello’. My immediate reaction was to blush and run upstairs to hide myself. Il etait le ‘coup de foudre’!

Settling after breaking a wine glass to face the beautiful park, we ordered some Chenin Blanc to calm our nerves down. Noticing only women around for brunches in groups actually made perfect sense now. They all want to open a french window in their head.

Who said men can’t figure out what women want. They probably haven’t visited this bistro yet. It wasn’t for nothing a kiss was named after these people. Anyway without wondering much we begin with a Parisienne salad and some sour bread to go. I feel the new flavours that could be very well mediterranean if it didn’t have the french twist. I savour it all and wipe the dressing off the plate with some loaf.

Next up our main course was made of thin pastry, called the Chou Farci with Vegetable Flan & Beurre Blanc, while the girlfriend ordered Potato & Brie Gratin with Green Salad & Apple. Seldom do french food look this healthy, light, colourful and delicious especially when its vegetarian. The green surroundings absolutely in harmony with the dishes; helps calming our nerves further down. Looking at the park, its so easy to open all your windows of the mind. The food definitely takes it to another level. Dare I add, a french niveaux is hard to keep up with as it is.

Without further a do we were raring to try more and order the Valrhona Chocolate Rocher. I figure to really test a place, you’ve got to taste the kind of chocolate they serve. The name had got us drooling.. like we weren’t already. The first spoon.. God.. was it orgasmic! We literally moaned for minutes. Everything was set to pleasure your senses. Right from the food, the mood and the good..ness! We were left craving for more… and it wasn’t just the food.

The product is the only truth, said Chef Alain Ducasse. And I say seldom does the truth gratify so instantly.

Farce Cafe

Nothing is worth waiting for 45 mins. Not even your Prince Charming. And definitely not some cafe that boasts to be outright fake in its very name.

With that corner table right next to the entrance given to us, it quite felt like at the receiving end of some charity. Nevertheless I was looking at all the props used to give this place “an illusion of” being much bigger and better or fancier than it actually is. Some props kept walking in and out.. often with a fake Ferragamo.

Lets say in my heart I had given up already so I just let my partner decide what to order in the hope of getting surprised. What followed.. actually surprised me. Loud and intrusive staff, in-your-face dishes, with over the top presentations shouting for undeserved attention. It all felt like being a part of some confusing nursery play show without any reason or rhyme.

Dal Chawal Arancini in tapas menu was struggling to figure out who to please. Neither Italian nor Indian, it was a forced hybrid that got confused if it wants to be cheesy or spicy. Poor baby Margharita Kulchas were already made pregnant with so much stuffing that they cried out loud to contain. Farzi Vada Pao with its reverse recipe was playing hide and seek with god-knows-who.

Proceeding to the main course, The Ratatouille Maska Pav came in a truck that would delight anyone who is not obsessed with hygiene. Fish & chips were revolutionised modernist-ically by crumb frying. Next came, my most awaited Anda Bhurji Kulcha. I didn’t know the age-old recipe of egg bhurji has now been changed to just mashed boiled eggs! And then there are grown up people who would want to be served their burgers in a mini London telephone booth. Or pick lollypops from a big white tree for dessert. A kid might be very entertained to see a typewriter with the cheque but wait, who are we kidding here?  Why wasn’t I warned about this gawky little amusement park? I’d have left my tastebuds at home and come for just some foamy desserts and drinks.

What was the connection with MasalaLibrary again?

La Boredega

Empty vessels make much noise. And when a restaurant does that, its considered a hype. Until you check it out for yourself.

It took us a good amount of time to look for the place itself. No one seemed to have heard about it or knew its whereabouts. Or may be that was a sign to save us from what followed. I could have found God in much lesser time. Anyway the hunt stopped after we spotted the distant signboard hanging at half mast. And then there were stairs to climb up. Did i mention I was wearing high heels? You know how smooth the lanes of Khan market are.

Claiming to serve authentic mexican cuisine, I couldn’t wait to order Guacamole. In fact the whole hunt was so I could eat guacamole, avocados and nachos. What’s mexican cuisine without avocado and jalapeño? In case you are thinking of a rhetorical answer, go ahead.. leave it in the comments.

Whatever we ordered deserves no description. Lets say it was mexican enough to burn our tongues and make us cry. Sangria- utterly sweet yet helpless to stop that burning. The kitchen and the staff are probably still figuring out the right proportion to be mexican in this very indian neighbourhood. Right from their etiquettes to approach, its awkwardly lingering between informal to laid-back. I mean why else would the waitress tell me how they’ve run out of Guacamole just ten mins back before 9 pm on a Saturday night. Further, on requesting to churn out some fresh batch, I’m reminded about how expensive Avocados are! Like that was new information. Will someone tell me again why exactly I was looking for this place painstakingly, in an evening at a place with much better options and pay over three grand to have mexican cuisine without guacamole?

As ostentatious the place is, the best part was still the decor, decked up as a grocery store, it at least lives up to its name quite literally for its ambience. Another thing to note is, they are as difficult to find on the net as they are offline. I wish their reputation could be as inconspicuous.