Indian Grill Room : A Perfect Mix – Review by Rajeev Gulati

Restaurant Visit – Indian Grill Room
Cuisine – Indian / Mughlai
Concept – Unlimited Kababs Service on table + Full Course Buffet
Location – Suncity Complex, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon
Visit Date – 19/06/2013 (Dinner)
Yesterday evening, Me and one of my friend were on a Kabab hunt and had short-listed VEDA at Promenade Mall for our fill. We were disappointed to reach VEDA only to know that it has already closed operations around two months back. I insisted my friend to visit Indian Grill Room at Gurgaon. He was hesitant because of traveling another 22 kilometers in evening rush hour traffic but finally gave in to my choice. Our GPS showed us a distance of 22 Kms from Vasant Kunj with estimated travel time of 38 minutes. We were greeted with clear lanes in traffic and despite taking a wrong turn in Gurgaon, we managed to reach our destination in 40 minutes flat. 
Indian Grill Room is located on 3rd floor of Suncity Business Towers and gives you a soothing feel of openness because of its huge area and no frills decor. They also have an open terrace area which is open for A La Crate orders only. They also have a private dining room which is suitable for 10 to 14 persons and can be pre-booked.
The first thing which catches your attention is wide spread space between tables, comfortable Sofas & Chairs, chilled air-conditioning and a tempting wooden tray kept on your table filled with salad. Chutney (Green, Tamatar & Mango / Pineapple) and papad. Our dinner plates were spotless clean, large sized and warm. Quality of cutlery and glasses was above average.
We opted for their 6 Veg & 6 Non-Veg snacks (kababs) + full course buffet and were almost immediately served with Gosht Gilawat on a mini parantha. We didn’t touch the parantha and focused on the Gilawat, which was extra soft but a little over spiced with cinnamon. Other kababs were Noorani Seekh which was fusion of mutton seekh coated with chicken seekh – taste average. 
Rest was Parasi Tali Machhali, thin fillet of basa fish deep fried with thinly coated barter, again average because it’s not my kind of dish. Murg Tikka Kali Mirch could have been much better, had it been a bit more tender. We were served Chingari Jhinga (Fiery Prawns) which were fresh, juicy and flavorful. Also on offer was a South Indian kabab named Kozi Prichatu (Chicken) which was different from usual chicken tikka and was very good in taste. Also on offer was Chicken wings in Punjabi Masala, which we could not try.
We also tried few of Vegetarian Kababs in a ceremonial fashion. Tandoori Annanas ki chaat was very good, Fresh pineapple cooked with teekha masala in a tandoor. Masoor Daal ki Seekh was avoidable as it was below average. They also served Dahi Ke Soole, which was made with stuffing of hung curd and was a surprisingly refreshing dish from vegetarian’s point of view. There were also on offer, Subz Gilawat, Paneer Surkh Tawa Masala & Soya Achari Champ, which we could not even sample due to stomach space being on premium.
The salad counter had a complete chat-papari counter, a design your own raita set-up and other assorted salads. Main course consisted of Raara Murg, Mashmiri Maas Kofta, Doi Maach (Fish) in non-veg section and Makai Palak, Kashmiri Laal Paneer, Bharwan Tinda & Shimla Mirch (Live), Rajasthani Gatta Curry & Daal Makhani in Veg options. Also the chef had made a signature Biryani with Cabbage and some secret ingredients. Assorted breads were served on table. To tell the truth, we were so full with our kababs that we could not even taste all the dishes from main course but the dishes were looking fresh and tasted good as far as we sampled.
Moving on to the desserts counter, they offered Moong Daal Halwa, Ras Malai, Two varieties of Fruit Kulfi (Strawberry & Mango), Fresh Fruits (Live) and two flavors of Ice Cream (Paan & Butter Scotch). We only tried some fresh fruits with honey and Rabari topping (Excellent Combination), both flavors of Kulfi (Mango was Good but strawberry was below average) and two helpings of Paan Ice Cream, which was good.
Now the surprise element… we paid less than 900 per person for this entire spread. To be precise, Rs.899 per person all inclusive. More so, their lunch (Except Sunday) is priced at Rs.699 all inclusive (menu is short by one kabab each, in Veg & Non-Veg category but with a free soft drink)
All in all, would I recommend this place?? YES. Not because it’s out of the world food or anything alike. But because, It’s a near perfect mix of soothing ambiance, good quality & huge quantity of Food with attentive & precise service and that too, at a less than perfect price.
Written by Rajeev Gulati
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Gulati’s – Pandara Road – A Delhi Institution

If I ever happen to draw a list of 10 food joints that define Delhi, Gulati’s Restaurant on Pandara road would definitely make the cut and have a prominent presence in it. That said I have myself been there 2-3 times only, however being on helm of food information highway of Eatlo, I can assure you that this place has managed to strike just the right chords with Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians across the classes and masses. 
And that restaurant and their service shines through with such magnanimity, says a lot about the owners and the effort they put behind the show. The belief was reiterated when we dealt with them personally for an Eatlo event we organised at their other restaurant, Spice Market in Saket, which is fine dining restaurant, serving food from all across India. The level of detailing and kind of service they provided managed to leave us awestruck at Spice Market too. 
Paneer Hyderabadi & Egg Curry (option of Mutton Curry waali gravy or veg gravy that comes from Dum Aloo)
Talking about their food, well there is not much I can say about it that has not been said already. Last night I was there and had their Egg Curry and Paneer Hyderabadi, which I would not judge on authentic they were, however in absolute taste both the dishes managed to hold my 100% attention. Despite being super crowded at 12:30 AM, the order came as promptly as it could and the portion sizes were HUGE to say the least. And did I tell you that their Butter Chicken is very popular too and is regularly rated among the best in Delhi. Well I am yet to try it, but thought would be a good point to mention here. About pricing, though I find them to be value for money, however its not a cheap place for sure. For me anything with APC of Rs.500+ goes into upper middle class. 
So now we were done eating and asked for the bill and waiter left two plates on our table with toothpicks and sachets of flavored and coated saunf. While waiting for the bill I opened the first sachet and started chewing on the saunf while having Gup-shup with Ashish Tulsian who was my dining partner. Ashish being a fan of Gulati’s was telling me about his experiences over the last 20 years at this restaurant and how his family has tried all other restaurants on Pandara road only once and eventually getting back to Gulati. Then he pointed out that I was on 4th sachet, and asked me did I know the reason that why there were two plate full of those and not 2-4 sachets as we were only 2 of us? The reason was simple, the saunf is so delicious that everyone loves it and Gulati’s know it. And because they care about you, they make sure they leave a huge bunch of them on your table to savor as much as you want and even when you finish them and ask for more, you would be served a bunch more, all with a smile. 

There were two such plates full for 2 of us.

The purpose of this post : None really, besides the fact that I am overwhelmed by the kind of effort that these guys actually put in behind the show and had to put something down in words, majorly to share my happiness, to thank the Gulati’s and just maybe inspire others to do good work. Badiya khana khilane ke ke liye bada dil chahiye hota hai… 

PS : Good to know facts :
1. Pandara road is known for the fact that its restaurants are open late in night. So my guess would be you can get your gruel till 2-3 am at-least.
2. Gulati’s have an wonderful lunch buffet spread, not sure it its only on weekends or they do weekdays as-well. Rs. 530 odd plus taxes. Not a bad deal I must say.
3. They have a pure-vegetarian restaurant called Veg. Gulati next door. 
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You can connect with me on Twitter : @SH_AGer

Bhape Da Hotel – Living in Nostalgia

Don’t let the title mislead you, when I wrote living in nostalgia, I meant surviving on nostalgia as I did not find any other reason why I would be going back. 
I have been told that they also own Minar, which is a bit upscale restaurant directly opposite to their Dhaba in outer circle of Connaught Place. Most of the items are prepared in the same kitchen and shared between Dhaba and the restaurant, only difference being service and dining experience. However I have been to the restaurant in past as well and had pure vegetarian dishes there and at that time as well I failed to see why anyone would like that place. But then its my perspective, both these places (Bhape and Minar) have a huge fan following to say the least. 
Bhape Da Hotel
So six of of went to Bhape last evening, got couple of tables on the first floor (Mezzanine I guess). The dining area is super cramped even by Dhaba standards and tables too small. A proof of which was visible after the meal when all six of our shirts had major stains from the food we had but then you can also attribute that to our protruding bellies which definitely are a bit more than average and then some more. 
Main seating area
Working on Tandoor
Benefit of being in a group is that you get to order a lot of things and when everyone is a known and certified food lover the extent of excitement and liberties in ordering also go up many fold. However trying to control our excitement we ended up ordering :
  • Butter Chicken – Half
  • Dal Makhani
  • Gurde Kapure gravy waale
  • Saag Meat or Mutton
  • Dahi Meat or Mutton
  • Bheja or Brain Curry.
Waiter with our Dishes
With that we ordered some assorted breads, butter naan, maida waala parantha, atte waala parantha etc. First round of breads was very well made, second round was a bit of a mixed bag. We definitely can give a benefit of doubt to them on this one.
Coming to main dishes, now I am not expert in food, specially meats and other non-vegetarian delicacies, however I have always believed in my taste buds and shunned the technicalities. So when after the meal I had a major feeling of wanting in my heart, soul and tummy I knew that this was not worth it.
Brain Curry
Butter Chicken
Dahi Meat
Dal Makhani
Gurde Kapure 
Saag Meat
Chutney Pyaz
Not dissecting individual dishes, you know something is seriously wrong when everything tastes the same, and your are just indifferent to the gravy you are dipping your bread in. Expect from butter chicken which had excessive cream in it and Dal which did not have meat in it and was actually quite nice, I did not feel any difference in anything else I ate there. 
Naan and Parantha 
One of our tables
A feeling accentuated by this incident :
Waiter comes to our table with come extra gravy. I asked him for what dish has he brought the gravy, he said it was for Gurde Kapure. However as he was speaking he had already dumped the gravy in Dahi Meat and when I said that he had put it in wrong dish, his reply was very genuine and clear : “Koi baat nahi sir, gravy to same hi hoti hai…” (Its ok sir, gravies are same). We all looked at each other with a snicker-ish look and continued pouring the food in our tummies. 
As I said, my experience is very limited, and maybe it is an acquired taste, maybe I will understand it after couple of more visits, but I can tell you one thing for sure – Those visits are not going to happen anytime soon, or if I have my choice or at-least when I am sober.. :P. 
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Lemp Brew Pub – The Blog Post that was.

Most of us have been reading a blog post about an incident that happened at one of the microbreweries in Gurgaon. The original post was available at this following URL –

However now the post is no longer live and I had to track it down from Google’s webcache.

Below is a as it is regeneration of the post.

The post got some responses, one from the owners on Zomato and other written by someone claiming to be a patron of Lemp. Have taken a screenshot and posted it below just in case they remove it. The link to that post :

Blogpost supporting Lemp
And here is a screen shot of a response the management gave to a review on Zomato,  probably the poster was one of the members of the group that experienced this incident at Lemp.
Lemp’s response on Zomato

Personally I felt lot of arrogance and high handedness in the way Lemp’s Management has responded  to the poster talking about police and parents and their brand in the same breath. Both the responses showed what kind of attitude the management has, they definitely have mark of someone who is drunk on power.Now I am wondering what is happening to the people who dared to complain against the restaurant despite being arm twisted?

I am actually waiting for the management to come and arm twist me, dekhe to sahi kitna dum hai unke arm me.. 😛

For more views and discussion on this connect with us on : Eatlo :

Connect with me on Twitter : @tweet2shashank


How a lunch at Lemp Brewpub Gurgaon turned out to be the most horrid experience ever.
For a lot of reasons, we have thought a lot before writing this. It is a very detailed account and we suggest you read it with patience. There is a lot to learn for us customers and a lot to be learnt by the restaurant owners community also.
A few of us friends (young, 25-year old, working, well educated, aware, well traveled, well spoken) were searching for a place to go to for Sunday brunch and on we came across a “Hawaiian Sunday Brunch” at Lemp Brewpub, Gurgaon. We decided to try out the Hawaiian brunch. As you can see from the image below, the cost is Rs. 999 all inclusive of taxes, and the same was also confirmed to us by the manager, Mr. Robin.


To put it out there, it wasn’t the first time we were going to Lemp.



The Zomato screenshot of the “Hawaiian Sunday Brunch” at Lemp Brewpub



From the above image you can read the promises:



Hawaiian food – NONE to be found.


Tiki bar serving exotic cocktails – there was no such bar.


Live music and dancing – There was no music playing at all. After we asked they switched on the speakers and regular music played in the background. For the dancing, there were never any plans for dancers. On a serious note we were told by the manager, Robin, that customers were the ones supposed to dance.


On asking why there was nothing Hawaiin about the brunch, Robin tells us that suddenly on Saturday night the chef had to go home in an emergency so hence the problem. Yet, see below a picture of the entrance of Lemp with multiple boards advertising the Hawaiian Sunday brunch that day. In spite of all this we still go ahead with the brunch.



In spite of the management knowing of no Hawaiian Brunch inside, the board was still on full display outside  to mislead and attract customers. There was only 1 other table that was occuppied when we left.



After waiting 10 minutes, we are served starters on the table which are absolutely stale, inedible, cold and uncooked. We immediately called back Robin and request him to taste the food so he can understand our plight. Even though a buffet includes unlimited ordering, Robin tells us he’ll do us a favour and ‘replace’ the dishes. By then we try the other dishes served on our table and they are equally ill-prepared. The replaced dishes come back absolutely the same quality, just heated this time around.



The drinks included in the package were their 6 home-brewed beers and any vodka-based cocktails. 6 of us ordered a glass of beer each and we asked for 2 vodka-based Mojitos. The beers came in good time but the 2 Mojito’s never came. There were 4 reminders given to various staff including the manager, Robin. Robin told us that the confusion resulted because the staff who took our order suddenly left for a break without informing anyone. To our surprise each of the staff members we had told for the Mojitos were very much inside the place and had been continuously serving our table!



Mr. Robin – The Manager who ‘chose’ 3 different prices for the Sunday brunch during this incident. This photo was clicked secretly from one of our phones.



By now, after all the fiasco, we decided that we would leave since nothing in the package was as promised and even the service was getting worse by the minute. We asked the manager to call the owners so we could speak to them. He said they are too busy to be called, even on the phone. In plain words we were told they are inaccessible for us. We simply informed Robin that we would be leaving. Robin tells us that is ok with him as long as we pay for what we consumed. Despite of all the poor incidents and not getting anything as promised, we tell him we will pay full rate for the beer we have had (a total of 6 glasses). Even though beer as part of an unlimited buffet should be calculated at subsidised rates.



We keep waiting another 15 minutes for the bill, which never comes. We ask the waiter and he tell us it will still take more time. At this point we tell the manager that we are leaving. He tells us we cannot do so and must pay the bill. To our shock, we are presented with a bill of Rs. 12,000! Reminder: The buffet costs Rs. 999 inclusive of all taxes and we were only 8 people there! We are told that the food we sent back will also be charged and other dishes prepared for the buffet which were still to come to us will also be charged!



Not wanting to waste anymore time, we walk out towards the elevator and 4 of us get in (3 guys and a girl). Suddenly there are bouncers blocking the tiny entrance of the elevator and intimidating and threatening us against leaving. The waiters and the other staff of Lemp had all surrounded us by then. We do what came to our mind 1st in a panic, raise noise so we can get out of the elevator into an open area. Having lived in Gurgaon for the last 10 years, that was the most scared we’ve felt ever. It was absolutely not safe inside (whether the girl had been with us or not).



We immediately called the police on 100.



By then a senior manager, Kapil Singh Thapa, comes to the scene. He walks in with so much arrogance that there was no point discussing anything with him. All he said was that you must pay for what you have consumed. Before the police come, the bill is corrected to approx. Rs. 6,700. Obviously, 6 glasses of home-brewed beer cannot cost Rs. 1100+ a glass.



Mr. Kapil Singh Thapa – The Senior Manager who is mentioned on many many reviews on the internet for his misbehaviour towards customers. This photo was also clicked secretly from one of our phones.



We still told the staff to call the owners, hoping they would have the sense to reverse such a poor customer experience that kept getting worse. We were repeatedly told that they cannot be reached for such an issue. In the meanwhile, even the mall management, run by Jones Lang LaSalle, decided to come by. We politely requested for help and were instead told to sort out the issue inside Lemp and not spoil the decorum of the place. They all knew the Lemp staff very well.



Senior person from Jones Lang LaSalle from the mall management at DT Star Mall. He refused to help us.  By standing was a better option.
Making calls to arrange for more men. Mall management and Lemp managers together.
From L-R: Mr. Kapil Singh Thapa (Senior Manager), Mr. Robin (Manager), Mall Management from Jones Lang LaSalle who refused to help  (in a red tie), Lemp staff (in jeans).
This photo was also clicked secretly from one of our phones.



Guess what happens next? The police arrives. With the ‘owner’ of the place. Very clearly they came together. We are in an even more helpless situation.



This ‘owner’, Shashank, was even more arrogant than the previous two managers, rather tending towards the likes of a goon. He even said, “Mera naam kisi se bhi Gurgaon mein check kar lena.” (“You can ask anyone my name in Gurgaon and they will know.”) He further declares (in Hindi) he will not hear a word against his food or his place or he will get us put behind bars. He goes on to declare that his managers have been running this place for more than a year and they are absolutely right.



The ‘owner’ Shashank (L) and the senior manager, Kapil Thapa (R), from a public photo found on Facebook.
The ‘owner’ Shashank (L) and the senior manager, Kapil Thapa (R), from another public photo found on Facebook.



And we had completely depended on the owner to come in and solve the situation amicably. After all, no owner would want customers leaving with such an experience.



When asked to explain how the bill of Rs. 12,000 could be presented, the same managers, Robin and Kapil, state that the buffet costs Rs. 1,199 per head + taxes. We showed everyone the screenshot of the Zomato page. Unfortunately, the police could not understand what the internet was and the Lemp management disowned the page. Instead an order is sent inside to instantly get rid of any paper/board where the price of the buffet maybe written. Suddenly realising that even then the calculation doesn’t add up for 8 buffets @ Rs. 1199, a friend raises the point. Now the buffet in an instant costs Rs. 1,299! When we told the policemen that this is exactly the kind of experience we have had, the police tell us they didn’t hear the manager changing the price of the buffet. Unbelievable. Most of all – HELPLESSNESS.



Finally, the owner adjusts the bill to Rs. 4,463 from the last revised Rs. 6,700. Out of no other option we agree to pay so that we can get out of the situation safe and sound.



We pay the amount and are returned the change. Of course, we ask for the bill which we are told will take some time. We wait another 15-20 mins for the bill. In the meanwhile, the cops ask us to put down the incident on paper and say that a compromise had been reached. We write the incident in detail and hand it over after taking a picture. We are ordered by the cops that we cannot keep proof of the letter or they will not take accept it from us. And we cannot click any pictures at that point. We were just stripped of our right of free speech and expression?



Next, when the manager of Lemp is asked to sign it he calls the owner and explains to him that we have written that we were cheated of our money. The owner throws an angry fit and orders the police to take us to the police station and present us to the SHO. He says there will be cases filed against us. We are returned our money that we paid 15-20 mins back.



Note – all this being said in Hindi/Haryanvi doesn’t sound half as pleasant as it may read in English.



Not wanting to drag this further, the tables have completely turned and we plead the cops and the owner to keep the money, throw away the letter and let us go. But the owner is adamant that we will not only pay the full bill of Rs. 12,000 but he also wants us behind bars.



We are dragged out of the mall by the police into their van. On the way, we were further scared by the police that we will be alcohol tested and what not. As you would have realised from our entire bill of 6 beer glasses amongst 8 people, we were perfectly sober.



By now, all of us who lived in Gurgaon immediately call our parents and ask them to come to the police station. After our parents reached AND they were forced to drop a few names, the situation turned on its head and the police staff started explaining how they have been trying to help us kids since the beginning and we kids had only requested the police to bring the Lemp manager to the station so that the issue could be solved!



The owner was now ‘too busy’ to come to the police station (which was barely 200-300m away from Lemp) but already had control over the cops. The SHO was called to the station and in the end we still paid the Rs. 4,463 to the manager there. We were told there was no need of any letter stating the issue was resolved with a compromise from our side. Finally, thats when this horrid ‘brunch’ ended.



On a separate note, I wanted to cover a small incident that the girl with us faced. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. The Lemp waiters/staff were leching on her and kept staring at her legs. When one of us told one of their staff members “Aap apni aankhein please oopar rakhiye” (“Please keep your eyes up”) he replies, “Kya karoon neeche hi chali jaati hain.” (What can I do, my sight goes downwards automatically.” This happened while the cops were there. This happened while we were surrounded by the Lemp staff and their bouncer + mall management bouncers. This is why the only thing on our minds throughout was to get out of the situation safely at that point.



We have tried to keep this incident as factual as possible without mixing emotional biases or the hate we have for this place today. We have not touched on the fact that in my own country, we do not have basic rights of speech and that the law is bent at the convenience of those who dictate power at that point.


Here are a few reviews of Lemp on Zomato we wish we had taken seriously. One thing that is common is the arrogance and misbehaviour of the staff and being overcharged wrongly. Even the names of the managers are the same in these reviews:

2 must read reviews:


By a certain Nitin Bhatia who had a similar horrendous experience as ours. He was also promised things, then commitment wasn’t delivered and finally he was at the receiving of end of the staff –


By a certain Sanjiv Tyagi who left his card there, only to find out the next morning that it had been swiped at not only Lemp but other establishments too (such as the liquor store) –


A few other reviews. Click on the link to go to the full reviews:



Poor staff:





Being overcharged:






Posted by Gurgaon Victims

All American Diner : Just not worth it.

All American Diner located in India Habitat Center has been a popular and well known joint in Delhi food scene. I have dined their 2-3 times over last couple of years and both the times have come out extremely disappointment. Sometimes I am surprised why people praise it so much, are they harping on lost glory, or are they nostalgic or just do not know their food??

Limiting this post to my latest experience a few days back, around 20 of us food lovers gathered there to check out their legendary breakfast on a Sunday morning. On their menu they offer a deal according to which you can order anything, as many times from the first three pages of the menu. The deal is for Rs.525 ++ and works out to Rs.670 net. The last order for the same being 10:45 am.

We were warned by friends that Sundays are busy days, the service is slow and all that, however I still believe that it is a commercial establishment, and if they accept my patronage, they have to deliver, no excuses taken.

Let me start from service itself, which was quite a disaster. There seemed to be only 2-3 servers to handle the super busy sunday morning and no wonder they all looked hassled as the day progressed. The waiter serving us looked clueless most of the times, however still seemed to do the best he can.

I guess someone should educate their staff and management that when you offer unlimited deals, the better idea is to serve quickly and move as many tables and as fast as possible. However here the policy was to make the diner wait for as long as possible for their food and hence serving them less food. We settled their at around 8:15 am and for 2 hours out of next 2.5 hours, we just kept waiting. They were taking 45-60 minutes to deliver an order and that too incomplete or incorrect. As soon as the clock struck 10:45 am and our last orders were placed, at 10:50 am came our last two pending orders and at 10:55 am came out the last order. Pardon my limited writing skills, but I hope I was able to express what had happened here. While we were waiting so long for our orders for last 2-3 hours, suddenly when we could not order more, everything came in a jiffy. And maybe it was my imagination, however I sensed a look in the waiters which said – Eat it and get out now.

They really should take some lessons from Rajdhani and other such restaurants which offer unlimited food. They just serve you so fast and so efficiently that you get a feeling of getting pampered and also get full early as food keeps coming at you relentlessly. What American Diner did to us was frustrating and felt like a really bad practise.

Rant about the service over, lets come to food now. It took 45 minutes for them to deliver bad food. Dry waffles, sausages which were not grilled and bacon which was not fried properly. And I am not talking once, this was happening portion after portion, order after order. I am sure they would have got few things right, however one can seldom go wrong with making omelets and toasting bread.
Can you see any grill marks on those sausages?
Loads of Butter and Maple syrup also almost failed to salvage these waffles. 

This is how the bacon looked like. All that uncooked fat. Its supposed to be crispy.

Generally I would have said some good things about their food to give a balanced opinion, however the combination of bad service which seemed to be coming from management policy and bad food is enough for me to make sure this remains a rant. I waited for 3 weeks before writing this, hoping the frustration would subside, but now we know, it never did.

All in all I would advise you to avoid this place, Delhi has lot more breakfast options these days, just checkout deals with some of the 5 star hotels in town and you would be surprised by how cheap they are how how amazing their spread is. All American Diner is just not worth it.
PS : And the portions sizes were too stingy, I am sure America me aisa nahi hota.. 😛
Connect with me on Twitter : @SH_AGer

Malabar Hotel : Kerala in the bylanes of Delhi – By Varun Chaudhary

Had this crazy craving for some authentic Kerala food last night, and well to be honest was surprised that the internet search revealed no great results.  From the limited opinions I got from some food bloggers – I zeroed in on the place called Malabar Hotel. Simply because everyone wrote good for their biryanis, and I’m a sucker for biryanis – any and every kind.

Well it was not an easy choice, cause the location was marked as Sarai Jullena (marked as Julliana on the menu cards – probably to make the location sound exotic) and I’m sure not many of us know where that is – even I had only heard of it, never ventured inside that area.  So the hunger pangs rose to an alarmingly high level and off we went to sample some malabari food.
Malabari Biryani


Since I was going with my wife, who is a vegetarian – concerns like cleanliness, crowd type (don’t judge me by this, we do think about this don’t we?) safety, veg food options were also issues looming around in my head.  But they were to be dismissed soon.
Took some direction help from the local rickshaw committee, who addressed it as Madarasi ka hotel – not the most racially correct title but nevertheless they helped.  They offered some sound advice, “Gaadi escort hospital ke gate No.2 ke bahar laga ke saamne wali gali mein paidal chalke jaana” – translation Park your car at gate No.2 of Escorts hospital and walk into the opposite bylane.
It’s a small walk into the lane opposite gate No.2, you come across Malabar Jewelry House – which is owned by the same establishment.  It looked like a swell jewel shop within the residential cum local business area.  Take a right after about 100 meters in the lane and viola – you are greeted with Malabar Biryani.
Now the real meat (paneer for veggies) of the story, the place is a no fuss interiors, with super clean tables, glass doors makes for good corner seating with practically no view outside  but jokes apart the best part of the place was it was super chilled.  The aircon seemed to be of another planet – it was in all probability the sister of the refrigerator separated at the last Khumb mela.
The place houses about 10 tables with varied seating, so lets say a good house of 50 can fill it full.  When we entered it had a couple  who preferred to be seated at the corner table (full-on privacy), 4 friends who looked a bit high or probably it was the prolonged stare and a guy who came with his companion the newspaper (Malayalam).
The menu cards are placed at the billing counter, so you either pick one up if you are in a hurry or show your decency and ask for one.  The servers know bare minimum hindi, like something to save their lives if required, otherwise keep it to broken English or point at the menu trick along with hand gestures of the number of plates required.  If it is going no where make a clueless face and in comes the manager with a smile so wide it seems on first instance like the guy who wants to dupe you with double rates at Janpath market – reminding you of those calls “Sarrrrrr, good quality – please pick up, only for you my friend, Rs.100 market price 500 – my friend, you want hashish” anyways…
To say the least first impression of the manager was not the last impression, he helped us so politely and with a smile that can put all the hospitality fakers to shame and some lesson for all the hotel management grads who do not take their work seriously.  He knew very well the moment he approached us that we have come in for the first time so he told us to go with basic options and after some “what is this, how is this made, with what ingredients, what is this…” we ordered.
Veg stew – thick coconut milk gravy with veggies like carrots, turnip, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans etc. the gravy had a smooth texture, the veggies were boiled to death though but the coconut gravy was so flavorful that I ignored the limp veggies. Mildly spiced. Was served in a bowl good for almost two.
Egg roast – Interesting dish. It’s a thick masala (tomato and onion) gravy with 3 boiled eggs. Spiced well with curry leaves flavoring.  It would be an awesome pick for drinkers bored of roasted chicken & the likes. Decent quantity served.
Malabar Parota – we simply said parotta (please pronounce it paranthaa once to see the angst on the servers face – this will be enough reason for you to get you an outcast tag) and they served us 3 of these.  Not that we complained.  Now I like the crispy ones which are freshly fried/baked, this seemed it was pre-done and heated before serving.  So not high marks for that but the dough flavor was good and coupled with stew or egg roast this got some life.
Finally, the Malabar special Chicken Biryani – for starters this is not at all like Mughlai degh cooked biryani, this is the quickie cousin, the rice was of the smaller grain variety not the ones used for south Indian cooking usually and the flavor from the rice alone was the enough to know what more is in store.  This dish was a winner from the moment it arrived our table.  Not because it was the only non-veg dish but because of the uniqueness it offered.  The plate came with a rice (in cake formation) topped with a fried papad and mix raita n achaar (this was good).  The presentation won me over and the rest was done by the taste.  The rice are filled with two chicken pieces and some sort of semi gravy concoction.  The flavoring was mild, coupled with raita and achaar it was a mesmerizing.  I think I’m drooling while writing this also.
I wanted to order more but my partner in crime gave up, well she did get to savor three items. For me ordering more was more for the gluttony than the hunger, after the Biryani miracle I wanted to see if they do justice to other non veg dishes – so would need to make another trip for this soon.
By the time we finished our meal the place was packed.  Well I wasn’t surprised a place where they serve with a smile, even served us extra papads at no extra cost and the food was super yumm why they wouldn’t fill up even if it was a weekday.
The only bummer was we asked for coffees, which they couldn’t serve since their coffee was out of stock.
Okay, now the climax – we asked for the bill and it was – drum rollsssssssssss…..
Rs.211/- YES, believe it!
I had to ask twice and then finally ogle at the bill to believe it.
Chatted up with the manager and told him what a brilliant job they are doing and how good the food was – on inquiring came to know they have been located here since the last 8 years and have now opened another one in Gurgaon (Med city).  Well the business strategy was clear with this revelation – medical tourism from the South of India to Delhi for better medical services is really high, and that most of the staff at hospitals are also from South – so the target audience here are the medical students, resident doctors and medical travelers (who mostly travel with accompanying family members) – now that explains why some of the dishes were mildly spiced and the pocket friendly prices.
An absolute VFM meal and high scores on taste, must explore if you are a food wanderer on the constant search of that elusive food paradise.
Written by Varun Chaudhary