Mister Chai, Connaught Place
Let’s admit it – there are few things as satisfying as a freshly-baked crumbly cake. And then there’s the samosa bursting with butter chicken, or chilli cheese if you prefer a herbivorous version, accompanied by what can only be described as the best chai in the city that helped us put the world in perspective. High tea be damned! The city needs a place where one can gulp down cup after cup of good ol’ cutting chai, accompanied of course by channa jor garam, cheese fans, peanuts and chakli. At The Shangri La – Eros Hotel’s newly-opened Mister Chai, Chef Neeraj Tyagi brings you regional street food with global flavours. As such, the plethora of teas, both hot and cold, will keep you coming back for more.
Recommended: MTDC – a triple decker take on Mumbai’s favourite sandwich, Shakarkandi Chaat – your favourite sweet potatoes crispy fried and served with tamarind sauce, mint chutney, pomegranate seeds, and Chocolate Toast – brioche with melted Cadbury Silk!
Jamie’s Italian Vasant Kunj
There’s Italian, and then there’s Jamie’s Italian. Like its Brit counterpart, the kitchen here is simple, non-snooty, replete with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, and authentic as hell. Think of this Vasant Kunj outpost as your friendly neighborhoods pizzeria. It’s all about the dough, baby! And the artisanal pizza here is the biggest sell. The pasta, too, is rolled daily, and is just as delectable. If you avidly Instagram your smoothies, you’ll love the award-winning superfood salad that seduces with grilled avocados, candied beets, pulses, grains, broccoli, ricotta, pomegranate and seeds. The bar menu offers a selection of Italian, Chilean and Argentenian wine. Skip them in favour of good ol’ Fratelli. Oh, and don’t leave without devouring the true-to-its-name Epic Brownie.
Recommended: Antipasti Plank – complete with bocconcini, pecorino topped with chilli jam, rainbow slaw, crostini, and seasonal veggies dressed in balsamic, Funky Chips, Porcini Fettucine, Prawn Linguine and Honeycomb Cannelloni.
The Piano Man Jazz Club, Safdarjung
If you’re nostalgic for the ’20s, harbour a deep appreciation for jazz, and have a somewhat illicit affair with your drink, then you’re going to love this speakeasy. From the makers of the Piano Man Cafe, here’s presenting The Piano Man Jazz Club. The tapas bar and restaurant serves up a host of finger-licking delicacies. The line-up here is par excellence with artistes from everywhere, and a gig almost every day of the week. Monday and Tuesday are reserved for jazz films. So, get yourself a seat in the balcony, a hot date, and an Old Fashioned.
Recommended: Old Monk Sticky Chicken Wings, Marinated Mushroom, Housemade Tacos, Jacket Potatoes and Zucchini Fries.
Dirty Apron, Safdarjung
Just when we thought we’d devoured every variation of the ravioli – mushroom, pesto, truffle oil, et al, Dirty Apron offered us a sexed up version with pumpkin and gorgonzola inside, and the gravy of a red Thai curry outside. And this is just an example of the mad, mad flavours the Safdarjung eatery has in store. Welcome to the city’s first Eurasian restaurant. Although small, the menu is both interesting a well-curated. Funnily enough, the hero of our meal was the Pumpkin and Peanut Butter soup – a luscious, velvety broth apt for the winters.
Recommended: Korean Nachos, complete with sweet spicy chicken strips, kimchi salsa and a whole lot of peanuts, and Stuffed Mushroom with Nonya Sauce, Coconut Rice with Sambal and Okra.
Lavaash by Saby, Mehrauli
Chef Sabyasachi Gorai’s Lavaash is, as he describes, the fruit of his nostalgic past. The first of its kind, this hidden gem in Mehrauli explores Armenian culinary history. Gorai’s tryst with the region’s offerings dates back to his childhood in West Bengal. So, the menu is divided into Armenian cuisine and Bengali food that has been heavily influenced by the region. Safe to say, it will take us many visits to fully grasp the depth of the fare. So, take an afternoon out if you can. The décor is rich and vibrant; the view of the Qutab, even more stunning. The flavours of the khorovats and tonir (that’s barbecue for you) here are rich and sophisticated. The mains here are made to be shared. Fans of ravioli will enjoy its Armenian counterpart – the manti. The cocktail menu surprises as much as it pleases. Trust that you will not find anything you’ve tasted before.
Recommended: Lavash with white bean hummus and tomato chutney, Labneh marinated with chilli oil, served alongside roasted bell peppers and asparagus, Tolma, Paprika Olive Oil Marinated Chicken Skewers, Roasted Cauliflower and Pumpkin Kebob.