Comorin (Delhi, March 2022)


Comorin flashed on my consciousness just as we were leaving Delhi in early February, 2020 (a month before you-know-what). It is the new-er, more casual restaurant from Chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent. It opened late in 2018 in Gurgaon—at the swanky Horizon Centre, where it sits on the plaza level alongside a number of other flashy places aimed at Gurgaon’s young, professional elite. Given how much we loved our meal at Indian Accent in 2014 I was hellbent on eating at Comorin on this trip, especially as my parents have now moved from Noida to Gurgaon. As it happened I ate there twice in my first week here.

There are a few things to know if you don’t follow Delhi/Gurgaon dining closely. First, Comorin is far more casual than Indian Accent. It is conceived as a place to eat in groups with everyone sharing plates, small or large. The small plates themselves are not particularly small, so a person dining alone couldn’t actually do a small and a large as starter/appetizer and main. The restaurant itself seems to take its design cues from similar places in the US and UK. Indeed, if you visit from a major American city you will find Comorin’s aesthetic to be very familiar. There’s blonde wood and metal and glass everywhere. There are large raised tables with tall high-backed chairs; there’s bar dining. There’s even a separate coffee, tea and kombucha bar, as well as a small retail area. The drinks menu includes a long list of house-made cocktails and something called a sous vide bar. It’s loud. This would all be very much on trend in New York or London.

And it is certainly on trend here. I ate here first on a Monday night with an old friend and again two nights later with two other old friends. On both occasions they were completely full; if we hadn’t made reservations we would have had to wait a long time. And keep in mind those were 7.30 reservations on both evenings: most people in Delhi don’t begin to think about dinner till 9 pm. So, it’s very hot, very popular, more than three years after it opened. But what of the food?

As at Indian Accent, the food here too is pan-regional, drawing on dishes and ingredients from many parts of India. There are many cheffy updates and twists and non-traditional combinations, just as at Indian Accent, but the food is far less fussy. Though there are quite a few large plates on the menu as well, on the first visit we ate only from the small plates section. There were a couple of dishes that my friend—who goes often—wanted me to try and the others were new to her as well. The first pair were both excellent. The Andhra Gongura Chicken in particular would have pleased any Andhra traditionalist. What they would have made of it being served with murukkus, I don’t know, but I thought the combination worked well. The Bheja Fry, goat brains, lightly spiced and cooked to the consistency of softly scrambled eggs, was also very good as were the miniature khasta rotis served to mop the brains up with. Of the two other dishes the Three Pepper Chicken Tikka was also quite tasty though the bowl had too many extraneous things in it, distracting from the chicken itself. The Green Chilli Prawns were executed perfectly but weren’t what we thought it would be. We’d assumed it would be done in some South Indian style or the other but it appeared to be a riff on an Indian Chinese preparation: crisply batter-fried prawns, tossed in what appeared to be a mayo-based dressing and topped with puffed black rice. Not bad by any means but our least favourite of the four.

With all this we drank two glasses of wine each. Chenin blanc for me from the Indian winery, Sula—it went very well with the food. My friend had an Italian red that she liked as well. Apologies for the poor quality of photographs from this meal. We were seated outside, where it was very pleasant on a March evening but where the light was a bit of an issue for my camera.

At the next dinner we were a party of three and seated indoors. We once again got four savoury dishes, this time two small plates and two large. Both the small plates were excellent. The mini Lemon Gunpowder Idlis may have been my favourite thing eaten across both meals; the trio of chutneys served alongside were very good too. The haleem, served with a mini bakarkhani, was far better than any haleem served in such a setting has any right to be. We asked for extra bakarkhanis and they were happy to supply them. The first of the large plates was a bit of a misfire, however. The prawns themselves in the Nilgiri Masala Prawns were coated in a delicious masala and sauteed perfectly. The green dhania sauce they were floating in didn’t do much for us. On a positive note, the Malabar porottas they served with this were excellent (two came with the order, we got an extra third). The final dish in this round was a return to form. The Himachali Chha Gosht was perhaps the most directly traditional plate across both meals and it was lovely. The mutton curry was velvety and subtle and the pudina-til chutney served with it was excellent as well—I must try to reverse engineer it once back home.

Unlike on the first occasion, desserts were involved on the second. One of my friends finds most Indian sweets too sweet for her liking and she got the Bitter Chocolate Mousse. I sneaked a bit and quite liked it. My other friend got the Overnight Cooked Kheer with Rasgulla and Nolen Gur Glaze and it was excellent from top to bottom. A bit much for one person to eat but with my help he managed. I got the Bihari Sev Boondi with Saffron Rassa and Ice Cream. Not exactly sure where the saffron rassa was but I liked this very much.

No wine this time. I got a cocktail (a Coriander and Lemongrass Mojito that didn’t make much of an impression) and one of my friends got a couple of gin and tonics. The other friend got a non-alcoholic drink, the Coconut Licuado or blended tender coconut).

Launch the slideshow below for a look at the space and the food. Scroll down to see how much these meals cost and for thoughts on service etc.

The bill was almost exactly the same at both meals: just short of Rs. 7400 or just short of $100 (USD). This is far from cheap by Delhi standards but also not a bad value for the food. The fact that the second meal cost the same as the first despite our having ordered more food should tell you just how much of a premium is charged for wine. Service was very friendly and knowledgeable. It did get increasingly harried on the Wednesday but not to the detriment of the meal.

On the whole, I liked the food—the second meal more than the first. It’s not unlikely that I’ll return with the missus on the next trip (projected for January) but I don’t think it’ll be a priority. The approach to the food was in many ways similar to that at our favourite, Cafe Lota and I’ve preferred all our meals there more. In fact, I ate at Cafe Lota with another set of friends a few days after the second of these meals. That’ll probably be my next meal report. By the time it is posted I should be back in Minnesota—I leave Delhi late night/early morning on Thursday/Friday.


 

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