Indian Accent II (Delhi, March 2022)


Sorry for the whiplash but we’re going back to the food reports from my trip to Delhi in March. I posted reports on most of those meals at a steady clip in March and April and then ran out of steam before getting to the last two. That’s not because these were the least memorable of the meals. Well, this one at Indian Accent certainly was not—and I’m not just saying this on account of a piece of high-concept unintentional comedy involving a napkin that was almost the highlight of the meal (more on this below). No, it was one of the best restaurant meals I’ve eaten in a while. Indeed, though this meal was not quite as extensive as our first dinner there in 2014, I may have liked it even more. And it made me rue the fact that we/I had not gone back to eat there in the eight years following. Continue reading

Cafe Lota V (Delhi, March 2022)


Cafe Lota may be my favourite restaurant in Delhi. I’ve eaten there on every trip since we first ate there in 2014—in some cases more than once. Part of our affection for it is that it is attached to the Crafts Museum, one of Delhi’s less visited treasures—and the restaurant itself is beautiful. Part of is that we’ve eaten there with so many good friends over the years. And a large part of it is the food, which is always excellent, always interesting and always an object lesson in the fact that a restaurant specializing in contemporary Indian food does not have to run away from “tradition”. One of the still remarkable things about Lota is how easily and seamlessly they present traditional dishes from different parts of India—sometimes in traditional guises, sometimes in updated presentations—alongside more mod’ish takes. As I noted at the end of my review of my meals at Comorin on this trip, the kind of thing Comorin is doing was really pioneered by Lota, and I think I prefer Lota’s version of it. You can go eat a Himachali thali and you can go eat bhapa doi cheesecake or apple jalebis—all of which I ate on this trip with some of my closest friends and fellow Lota aficionados. Between the laughter and the food, it was a wonderful meal and I can’t wait to do it again in January. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Cafe Lota IV (Delhi, Jan 2020)


We first ate at Cafe Lota in January 2014, just a few months after it had opened at the Crafts Museum. Since then we/I have gone back there on every trip (the one exception being in 2017 when I visited Delhi very briefly on account of a family emergency). We were enthusiastic about our first meals there in 2014; the two visits since then, in 2016 and 2018, yielded somewhat more uneven results with the departure of the original chef a possible reason. I still maintained, however, that it was one of the better and more interesting restaurants in Delhi and so there was not much question that we would go back there again on this trip. Continue reading

The Bombay Bread Bar (New York, August 2019)


This was the third of three Indian meals I ate in New York in August. The Bombay Bread Bar was the latest of renowned chef, Floyd Cardoz’ Indian restaurants. I never had a chance to eat at Tabla, Cardoz’ most successful restaurant, in operation from 1998 to 2010. Along with Tamarind under Raji Jallepalli*, Tabla was one of the few restaurants in that period that attempted to move Indian restaurant food in the US past the established cliches. Despite its longevity, however, it did not really spark a movement. Now the zeitgesit has caught up to Cardoz. New York alone is full of restaurants serving modern and regional Indian dishes, in rooms that are trendy and playful (see Adda and Baar Baar, for example). It made sense then that in 2016, after several years helming non-Indian restaurants, he made a return to this culinary space with Paowalla. But it didn’t stick, and in 2018 the concept was switched to the more casual Bombay Bread Bar. This was apparently more successful but not successful enough to keep it in business. It was announced in July that the restaurant would close in September. Nonetheless, I wanted to eat there. Having tried Cardoz’ updated take on Goan food in Bombay (at O Pedro), I was curious to see what he had been up to here. Continue reading

Baar Baar (New York, August 2019)


Baar Baar is a recently opened mod Indian restaurant in the East Village in Manhattan. Its name means “again and again” but I have no desire to eat there again, which is a shame because there is real talent in the kitchen. But that talent is in service of taking what could be excellent iterations of more traditional dishes and marring them with unnecessary jhatkas or flourishes that must read well to those looking for novelty but which come across as trying too hard on the plate and palate. At least so it seemed to us at our table. I ate here two days after my dinner at Adda and here again I was sans the missus; I dined instead with more people who I know from the food internet. In this case, one person I knew in the heyday of Another Subcontinent (and her partner) and two others I’ve come to know more recently on Twitter but had not met until this meal. So as to not tarnish their reputations by association with me I will preserve their anonymity. Continue reading

Cafe Lota Again (Delhi, December 2018)


We first ate at Cafe Lota—the restaurant attached to the Crafts Museum in Delhi—in 2014, not too long after it opened. We loved our meal so much we went back a few days later. And on our next trip in 2016 it was one of the places we returned to. Since then the original chef has moved on—we ate in 2016 at his then-new Rustom’s Parsi Bhonu but I think at the time he was still attached to Cafe Lota as well. In the intervening period there’s also been a lot of uncertainty about the Crafts Museum as a whole. There was talk of the BJP government—which does not have much use for Indian culture that cannot be said to have emerged from a cow—shutting it down; but I’m glad to report that it hasn’t happened yet. I didn’t make it into the museum proper on this trip but I did meet an old friend at Cafe Lota for lunch. The restaurant looks much the same, but is the food still as good as it was? Continue reading

Café Lota, Two Years Later (Delhi, January 2016)

Cafe Lota: Do Gajar Halwa
Café Lota was one of our favourite stops on our last trip to Delhi, silly name and all. We ate there twice and liked the food so much that it was the one place we knew for certain we would eat at again on this trip. And we did so, twice again. Neither meal quite rose to the heights of our 2014 experience but I still stand by my claim that this is one of the best and most important restaurants in Delhi. Alas, its future is not bright. This is not because of any problems with the restaurant itself but because the future of the Crafts Museum complex, of which Café Lota is a part is not clear. Nor is it entirely the extent to which this is a political matter.   Continue reading

Varq (Delhi, January 2016)

murgh-sirka-pyaaz2
Varq, at the Taj Mahal hotel in Delhi, is said to be one of the most important restaurants not just in the city but in all of India. The force behind it, Chef Hemant Oberoi, is considered one of the most important and influential figures in Indian haute cuisine in the last 20 odd years. He retired last year but his newer restaurants Masala Art and especially Varq remain at the forefront of the movement to re-articulate classic high-end Indian restaurant food in a contemporary/modern idiom. Personally, I am not convinced of the need for this sort of thing because usually when people say “contemporary” or “modern” in this context they mean “Western” and I’m never quite clear on why that should be so. It’s not as though in fashion or film or even non-high-end food Indian modernity is reliant on Western cues. Continue reading

Café Lota (Delhi, January 2014)

exterior
Okay, so in my last Delhi restaurant review I noted of Indian Accent that it must surely be on the short-list of highly talked about and ambitious restaurants in the city and environs. It has recently been joined on this list by a restaurant very far away from it in price and ambience, though not, as you will see, in culinary scope. I refer here to the new(ish) restaurant at the Crafts Museum in Pragati Maidan, the unfortunately named Café Lota. We ate two wonderful meals there, but before we get to them let’s take a bit of a necessary detour first. Continue reading