The capital city has always been known for its good food and great variety – so much so that it could easily be the food capital of the country. From the dal makhni at the ITC Maurya’s famous Bukhara to the stylish Indian Accent, Delhi is a gourmand’s paradise. So the recent wave of restaurant openings across the city is pretty expected.
We profile the best restaurants and lounges launched in Delhi in 2016.
Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra
Mumbai has had it for a few years now, and Delhiites now know what the fuss is all about as this molecular gastronomy-inspired restaurant has finally made it to the capital this year. Helmed by hospitality giant Jiggs Kalra and run by his son and MasterChef India judge, Zorawar, the Janpath restaurant serves a variety of classic Indian dishes in a modern avatar. The menu at the Delhi outpost might be completely different from the Mumbai one, but the taste and finesse remain the same. Our picks off the menu included the mushroom chai, which was served with a hint of truffle, the curry leaf prawn with appam foam, and the jalebi caviar, which is also on the Mumbai menu. The restaurant also has a humongous bar, with a variety of spirits, wines and cocktails on offer.
It may be a lounge bar, but that doesn’t mean that Grappa isn’t one of the capital’s newest finds. Recently opened in Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, this is the place to be. Grappa has an extensive, 20-page drinks menu with a variety of cocktail styles, including barrel-aged, negronis, highballs (where distinct flavours are picked up from non-alcoholic mixers to impart a unique taste to the liquor, and toddies, in addition to regular spirits and wines. Named after one of Italy’s most popular drinks, Grappa has a casual vibe with both indoor (warm wooden interiors) and outdoor (alfresco open-air terrace and garden lawn) seating spaces. International mixologist Mario Gonzalez Cabildo and local celebrity bartender Gaurav Dhyani have ensured that you keep coming back for me. The food menu is limited, but delicious, with grilled and baked appetisers.
Mexican food hasn’t had its due in this country. With the exception of a few standalones, the cuisine hasn’t really found favour with the majority here. But Arriba is set to change all that. A small, intimate restaurant located on Khel Gaon Marg, its USP is its warm, inviting ambience and cool vibe. Started by school friends Rohan Gupta and Samir Kohli in May this year, Arriba has non-fussy interiors, a friendly staff and Spanish ballads playing in the background. That’s right – no sombreros, no ponchos, no overt Mexican vibe and no Tex-Mex; this is one place that’s got it right. For the adventurous ones, we’d suggest trying the habanero prawns – they’re so hot that the chef, Noah, keeps bread handy while making it in the kitchen. Other standout dishes are the Salsa and Guacamole Carnivale (which comes with five types of salsas), the Tequila and White Wine Marinated Roast Mushrooms, and the pork skewers with habanero sauce. Make sure you try the drinks too, especially the super-popular Frozen Coconut Margarita.
If you’re looking for an upscale restaurant that serves delicious food and wine, you’ve come to the right place. Janpath’s newest opening only allows over-18s, which instantly makes this relaxed drawing room-like space a fine place for a quiet dinner with drinks. Blending rustic charm with classic grandeur, 52 Janpath has comfortable pouffes, a fully-stocked bookshelf, a live fireplace and a whiskey and cigar corner. There’s also a garden courtyard with a live grill, which makes you feel like you’re outside the bustling capital. The food, an eclectic selection from Thailand, Italy, America and the Mediterranean , has a number of dishes worth a special mention, prepared in a rustic open kitchen. We’ll start with the lychee wantons (the fresh lychee fruit juice adding a dramatic twist to classic wantons), the utterly delicious prawn scotch eggs, and the crispy, bacon-wrapped asparagus. This is also a good place to enjoy some pre-dinner drinks with friends, with the punchy coffee sangria and the Twisted Sweet Girl (vanilla-infused vodka and vodka flambéed marshmallows) being the picks from the selection.