Where to go if you want all of Delhi on a platter in two hours flat
In case you still say ‘coffee shop’ to refer to the 24-hour restaurant at a luxury hotel, you are clearly not with it. Try ‘all-day’ diner instead. All-day diners are programmed to be buffet restaurants, especially in India. Drag the brood or swing a deal for the entire office for an ‘eat all you can’ food orgy. And yet newer 24-hour restaurants are breaking away from the ‘multi-cuisine’ buffet rut with a theme or a central culinary thread. Quite often these are afterthoughts and more often border on gimmicky.
The Delhi Pavilion might sound like a lazy idea at first – the best of Delhi in a restaurant that is in the heart of Delhi. So, big deal! But it’s the execution that sets this apart. The restaurant’s two most striking design elements don’t have Delhi plastered all over it – there’s a remarkably high ceiling that creates a vastness of space – a contrast from the bumper to bumper traffic in Saket and then there’s our favourite, the showstopper lights that are suspended from this same high ceiling. There are a couple of Delhi props like the quintessential ‘Purani Dilli’ cycle rickshaw that look slightly ‘force-fitted’.
The interiors clearly don’t transport you to the Delhi of any era and that’s why this restaurant experience is special. It relies on a well-researched (and executed) menu and stellar service that literally take you back in time and into some of Delhi’s oldest (and newest) neighbourhoods without leaving Saket. Adwiti who runs this restaurant is very ‘switched on’ with fascinating tales about every dish on the menu and is well backed by Chef Deepak Sarkar.
The Seekh Mirza (lamb kabab) is seriously tender, it barely needs a fork while the Khasta Kachori Chaat incorporates Old Delhi’s favourite chaat ingredient – pomegranate seeds; it has been slightly modified (less fiery) though. The Lal Qila Haleem is another absolute must try on this menu – the caramelised onions lends this Ramadan favourite its unique flavours. The other surprise is the Paneer do Pyaza that is cooked with curry leaves, coconut milk and pickled onions – it’s probably where Kerala meets Chandni Chowk and is a huge relief from the one-dimensional panner butter masala.
The menu is actually split into sections that capture different eras that go all the way from Old Delhi style food to modern masterpieces that you are likely to find at hip diners in Khan Market or HKV. It’s the medieval section that shines – the tribute to the classic Nirula Hot Fudge Sundae is great but that still pales next to the signature Dehlnavi Kulfi that might have your dietician throw a fit. But unlike your shrink it’s okay to keep things away from your dietician.
Delhi Pavilion is at the Sheraton New Delhi Hotel Saket (Near Select Citywalk Mall). Phone: 4266-1122. Meal for 2: Rs 3000/-
Will we go back: Absolutely.