Ottimo at West View – ITC Maurya – Ready to host Royalty

The charm of the location, the view, the knowledge that who’s who of the world dine here – ensures that every evening spent here, is going to be an evening of lifetime.

ITC Maurya has been part of Delhi’s Landscape for around 40 years now. Though a slew of modern and luxury hotels have opened in Capital and NCR, they have not taken any charm away from this luxury hotel, located in Diplomatic Enclaves of New Delhi. Well known for hosting executives, ministers, leaders and head of states from all over the world – the hotel is equally popular with denizens of City of Delhi – thanks to many culinary aces that they keep up their sleeves including Dum Pukht and probably the most famous restaurant in India – Bukhara.

West View been a part of the hotel for couple of decades, it never was as busy or famous as other restaurants in the same hotel, however it always had its cult following – a dedicated audience who swear by the place as well the lavishness of their Sunday Brunches.  Infact when ITC wanted to introduce Ottimo to this property, which has been a great success at their hotels in other cities, they decided to keep the ‘West View’ name (unlike other properties) where Ottimo is a standalone brand, here it became Ottimo at West View.

I have been told that Ottimo means excellent in Italian and is  lead by Chef Vittorio Gecco – who after working for several Michelin Star restaurants around the world, joined ITC and started Ottimo at ITC Chola – their signature property in Chennai.

Now that you know more about the place, let me start at the start. West View has been fully redone and we were invited by team ITC Maurya to experience what they have worked really hard on.

We landed their at 7 pm – just the start of their Dinner service. Walking into the restaurant it felt like a drawing-room or just an extension of the kitchen – a very classy one at that. Occupying a table for two on the west windows of West View – the view and the location started to dawn on us. When you can see a sprawling green forest and a setting sun on horizon, it becomes hard to believe that you are bang in the center of a City like Delhi. We jumped from our seats and leaped towards the terrace area – now called an Infinity Theater and a sky bathed in colors of sunset was out there to welcome us. The terrace now has a few tables along with some greens, which technically are their kitchen garden, also housing a pizza oven in a corner.

Coming to food offered – it can primarily be divided into 3 parts –

  • Ottimo’s Italian a la carte menu- Pastas, Pizzas, Soups & More.
  • The Grill – Array of meats and vegetables for you to choose and ready to go on the grill.
  • Cold Buffet spread – with choicest of cheese, meats and salads.

Rs. 1200 gets you to the cold buffet, while you can order other things A la carte, then comes Rs. 2500 option where you get access to the Cold Buffet Cart, choice of one Soup and choice of a pasta. For Rs.3500 you get access to the Cold Buffet, Soup, Pasta, Grills as well as the desserts. All the prices are exclusive of taxes and service charges may apply.

We started off with assortment of cheese, olives, sparkling wine, bread basket and some goodies from their Cold cart. As expected from an establishment of such repute – all of them were of highest quality and set our tummies for gastronomical delights that Italian Chef was about to dish out for us.  A special mention to the Pesto sauce served to us with our breads – it has to THE finest and most aromatic pesto I have tasted till date, closely followed by Naturellement in Auroville, Puducherry. No wonder both of these restaurants are growing their own basil.

We started again, this time with Risotto – topped with crunchy asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes. Simple but robust flavors and beautiful texture defined this European Rice preparation. In pastas, we chose Ravioli – and were served one stuffed with wild mushroom and ricotta and truffle – topped with Parmesan reduction which added the magic to this dish – definitely among the finest that I have laid my fork on.

How can visit to an Italian restaurant be complete without trying their Pizza? – we decided to go for one with Mascarpone Cheese, Tomato, Mozzarella and Parma Ham. Very simple combination, made exotic by availability of  Mascarapone and Parma – both of them still a rarity across pizzerias in town. By this point we were at the end of our appetites, however succumbed to our taste-buds, which demanded more food. Still curious to try the main courses, we went for the lamb chops.

Tender lamb chops stuffed with Parmesan and truffle crusted with almonds and bread crumbs, served with vanilla mash potato, spinach and sautéed vegetables. That is the literal translation from menu – wonder how they managed to get cheese and truffle inside the chop. The texture definitely felt that it has been worked on – reminded of a very fine hand pounded gustaba – coated with crispy  goodness of nuts and bread most probably used as a binder. Beautiful texture of meat was accentuated by the rich nutty crust, while the the potato mash served with it was as creamy as they come. The way zucchini was ‘buttoned’ and served, talked a lot about the art that went behind this dish.

We ended the meal with couple of desserts – Handmade Mango Icecream topped with cherry compote and a Tiramisu – came in a jar and was served with three different chocolates on the side. Not the most bitter or intense Tiramisu, however light, airy and still full of flavors. That said, would expect the Italian chef to produce a show stopper – which this definitely was not. In Mango Cherry ice-cream would love to see more play with the cherries, instead of being a compote or sauce.

As detailed as I have been about the main dishes, I would say that this place is more about a relaxed dinner experience. The kitchen type setup of the restaurant is very inviting, very casual, still exuding that classy feel. You can just go for the cold buffet and the amazing assortment of ‘Tapas’ made of produce from their garden, meats and cheese would keep you great company while you nurse your favorite wine or champagne. Add to that the charm of the location, the view, the knowledge that who’s who of the world dine here – ensures that every evening spent here, is going to be an evening of lifetime.

Jamie’s Pizzeria- all style no spice?

It would be interesting to see how people respond to Jamie’s Pizzeria in an all ready crowded pizza segment with likes of Sbarro, NYC. Pie, InstaPizza, Pizza Express who are serving some mind blowing pizzas.

 

Spicy Meat Ball
Spicy Meat Ball Pizza

Before anything else, let me tell you I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver- the celebrity chef from UK who has taken the internet webs by storm with his easy peasy recipes and cute looks 😉 More than anything i love his cook books.

Last week we were invited to try the newly opened Jamie’s Pizzeria in Pacific Mall, West Delhi.

While the decor captures the relaxed fun spirit of Jamie’s style, the flavours seem to be a miss. The meal left us little underwhelmed, maybe we had huge expectation but when a brand like Jamie Oliver is involved you don’t expect anything but the best!

The use of freshest & choicest ingredients does little to compensate for the taste of the food. The meal began on a positive note with the delicious Hand Stretched Cheesy Garlic Bread served with garlic butter, rosemary & olive tapenade. Since they aren’t serving the alcohol as yet, we ordered the Homemade Ginger Beer which tasted so saccharine and lacked the fizz!

From the pizza section we ordered the Spicy Meat Ball Pizza & Jamie’s Super Greens on our server’s recommendation. They do only one size i.e. 11 inches and one style of crust- which is hand stretched thin crust! Also they use fresh dough which clearly makes the difference! Both the pizzas were thin, crisp and well baked! One thing that stop out was the fermented dough which made the pizza base fluffy unlike the other flat thin crusts which we are used to eating. While the Spicy Meat Ball pizza was nice but nothing extraordinary, the Super Greens one was loaded with leaves like spinach & coriander. No doubt the ingredients were fresh and high quality, the fact remains the taste profiles need to be matched well. The heavy use of the coriander leaves simply killed the pizza, I couldn’t taste the cheese nor the sauce! The secret of a good pizza is the balance which was clearly missing in this one! Also couldn’t really understand the idea of chopping the vegetables in huge pieces or for that matter using the whole vegetable!

The pasta of the day was – Lasagna which was an extremely small portion, with very little cheese and way too much tomato sauce & lots of green leaves on top. The sauce was simple and fresh with a nice herby taste but again nothing special about the dish.

The Baked Fish in a bag which was a sole fillet was the most disasturous dish we ordered. Simple rustic style of cooking fish with some whole fresh veggies wrapped in an aluminium foil is one thing where in the fish gets cooked in its own juices & vegetables while   bland, tasteless and undercooked fish is another. This one lacked any flavour to say the least. Also the veggies on the side were chopped in most stupid fashion- a broccoli piece as big as my palm? That surely not my idea of rustic!

Also if you like ketchup or mustard with your pizza then you better carry your own- they don’t serve any of the two. Really doesn’t matter to me but we all know how much our countrymen love the two!

Lets talk about the best part of the meal- DESSERTS! We ordered two sorbets, Mango and Strawberry Rasberry which were fresh, tangy and chunky! The portion is tiny and it will leave you wanting for more. I just hope they are using fresh fruits and not some industrial grade fruit pulps. I am definitely going back for the sorbets if not the pizzas.  The Almond Tart with vanilla cream was trademark Jamie style-rustic, fresh and flavourful & with a twist! The tart was crumbly from the outside and spongey cake texture from the inside and smelt of butter. The vanilla cream with hint of lemon zest was the perfect accompaniment.

It would be interesting to see how people respond to Jamie’s Pizzeria in an all ready crowded pizza segment with likes of Sbarro, NYC. Pie, InstaPizza, Pizza Express who are serving some mind blowing pizzas.

I would love to go back once again to try some more pizzas before completely writing it off but then as they say calories are precious 😉

Check some lovely pictures!

Super Green's Pizza
Super Green’s Pizza

 

Baked Fish
Baked Fish

 

Garlic Bread
Garlic Bread

 

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Almond Tart

 

Berries Sorbet
Berries Sorbet

 

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Thats how good the table looked!

 

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Closer look- Lasagna

El Posto – Western Winds in Eastern Lands of Delhi

East Delhi or Jamna paar as people from other parts of Delhi call it, can be easily termed as the deprived lands of Delhi. Though I keep hearing about the street food options in that area, but the restaurant scene has never been able to excite me. So when I received an email telling me about El Posto and inviting me for a review, I jumped on the offer. Was excited to see some western food in that part of town.
El Posto seems to position itself as Italian and Spanish place, however I doubt they do any of them in a authentic way. The food that they serve is definitely heard towards Indian palette, has no health factor and is delicious, well mostly.

Bakery’s Showcase
They have a decent looking coffee machine, so I am assuming they do decent coffee.
They sell fresh breads
Fresh cookies

Walking in the place, it does have a premium feel to it with Bakery and Cafe on ground floor and first floor being what they say is fine dining. However as far as aesthetics go could feel the money being poured in, however the first floor definitely lacked the finer details and the premium feel falls apart on a closer look. 

Coming to the most important part now, food. They do not serve alcohol and have no immediate plans of doing that. We started off with ordering 3 drinks from their mocktail menu and couple of shakes they have on offer. The fruit pastry shake though very filling and thick lacked presentation and felt more like a plain vanilla shake. Personally I liked the taste of it, however my two dining partners Shashank Arora & Shweta Mittal felt that it was too plain. the Chocolate shake named AK Choco 47 was definitely very rich in chocolate flavor and I found no reason to complain the mocktails the drink called Italian Smooch was the pick for the lot, while Lemon & mint Julep was strictly decent. The frozen mango margarita did not go down well with any of us.

AK Choco 47 – The chocolate shake.
The Fruit Pastry Shake
Italian Smooch
Lemon and mint Julep
Frozen Mango Margarita

Bruschetta Chicken Arabiatta and for vegetarians a Bruschetta layered with grilled cottage cheese was ordered, surprisingly the veg one went down better with all three of us while Chicken one was not bad at all as well. Stuffed Mushrooms that we ordered were quite a disappointment with no taste in the filling, while I also thought that batter in which they were coated and fried could have been better.

Bruschetta with Cottage Cheese layering
Another look at the Cottage cheese Bruschetta  (vegetarian)
Chicken Arabiata Bruschetta
Stuffed Mushrooms – did not like them much.
We got excited seeing the Tacos in the menu, have never eaten them outside India so would not know what authentic are, and wherever I have eaten them in India, have got a different version. Different shells, different fillings, different sauces. So was not surprised when the taco that was served to us by El Posto was something I was not able to identify. But then who gives a damn about the appearances. One bite into the fish taco, I knew it was a gluttonous beast and I should not be eating that however I just could not stop. If fish one was good, then the vegetarian version was extremely good. They put a Tikki inside it, which I liked because of the spices used in it, just added that punch to the Taco for me, or maybe I am too desi and love my food Indianised. Fyi – They use the same Tikki / Patty in their burger which is priced at Rs.45 only (Bakery Section).

Vegetarian Taco – LOVED it! 
Fish Tacos
Closer look at the Fish Tacos
Though none of us is really a salad person, however we thought we would give it a shot as there was a 5 cheese salad on the menu and how can I say no to cheese. The salad came with Apples, Kiwi and Lettuce amongst other things however after much fishing all the pieces of the cheese that I got were of the same type and even that was too brittle. Not sure which one was that though. Another disappointment for sure.

They have a decent selection of pizzas, however the ones that excited us were their Indiana range. Chicken Indiana and Paneer Indiana, basically paneer given an Indian twist. Due to our limited appetite and taking liberty of our invited status, we ordered half and half of each. half topped with paneer and other half with chicken.  Twist was not only in the toppings, its was also in the base sauce, which I was told made with mix of some kind of cheese and mint.

Salad : Guess the lowest part of the evening.
Combo of Chicken and Paneer Indiana Pizza
Fettuccine pasta in creamy pasta sauce with Buns and Garlic bread.

Pesto pasta that we ordered was not the usual one that I was used to. This one came with white sauce and pesto, on asking we were told that this was a customization that they had to do for this part of Delhi, as people just did not appreciate the normal pesto pasta. Oh Well! we Dilliwaalas do love our cream and cheese don’t we? That said the taste itself was quite nice and it came with two types of breads – Usual Garlic breads and mini buns, which were baked in-house only.

By this time we were about to give up, however the fighter inside us told us that we can eat more, and we need to eat more so that we can bring out all the food for you good folks.. ;-).  So to fight on next came Prawn in peri peri sauce and a Risotto with mushrooms. Risotto came in the last, and by that time were we quite full and hence were not able to do justice to it, so I had rather not talk about it here.

Risotto with mushrooms

The prawns were de-shelled jumbo prawns, have not tasted much of Peri peri sauce so cannot comment on it, however they came with a very nice side of Mashed potatoes and I loved the fact that chef had added peas to them. Not sure if its a usual practice or the idea comes from another desi mind.

Peri Peri Prawns
Mashed potatoes and vegetables with the prawns.

Now came the moment of reckoning – time for DESSERTS! We decided to bypass all usual Chocolate truffles and fudges and ordered Banoffee Pie along with the Red Velvet cake. The pie was nothing much to talk about, however the Red Velvet cake just blew our minds. It was like a perfect layer to seal of a gluttonous meal, the layer after which you feel that you have reached it. The orgasmic state if I may say so. Its was velvety smooth and the frosting took the icing of the cake, though on the sweeter side, they attributed it to one of the three cheeses used in making the frosting and if they had to make it less sweeter, it would loose its charm. And I see no reason why I would want that to happen.

Red Velvet Cake – The Star of the evening.

Banoffee Pie

To conclude it, its a new place with its own set of teething problems, the owner did mention about the staff issues as East Delhi is a difficult place to get good staff. However they seem to be doing very decent food, would not compare it to the best in Delhi, however it does offer an excellent option in the area it is located. Brilliant variety though the prices are on the higher side.

Address :
El Posto, 36-37, Aditya Mega Mall, Karkardooma, Delhi

Connect with me on Twitter : Sh_Ager

Parmigiana Di Melanzane – A recipe by an Italian FED

 This is a recipe shared by Emanuela Cerri, a Food Enthusiast, who loves Indian Food, is an Italian and lives in Spain. 

Her hold over English is limited, however that should not hold us back from enjoying good food.

PARMIGIANA DI MELANZANE

Weather in Granada it’s very hot in the last days (38/40º C.)..remembering me India….so I don’t usually cook too much. But yesterday I woke up very early..and start cooking…so I think to share what I did.
Italian food is very simple to cook, with no many ingredients…(apart if you want Indianised the meal..) 
I prepared : Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant parmigiana), An hybrid between a french omelette and a Spanish tortilla….and Milanesi di Tacchino (breaded turkey cutlet)..the favorite dish of every Italian child….
We are two people at home, so the quantity is for TWO.
Let’s start with:

PARMIGIANA DI MELANZANE

Ingredients: 2 Eggplants, half onion, 1 clove of garlic, fresh tomato puree, olive oil, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper  basil..
(Behind  two typical earthenware jars from Granada)…

– Cut the eggplants in slices and grill…. 

…… a part,  prepare the tomato sauce… ( put in a pot olive oil, the half onion and the garlic chopped……

..fry for a while… add the tomato puree…little salt, little sugar (to take off acidity of tomatoes)..little pepper and a basilicum leave…cook for 20 min.

…now you can start build the “Parmigiana”. 
Put some tomato sauce in a baking pan

put the first floor of grilled eggplants, put on the top the tomato sauce, and again on the top sliced mozzarella and grated Parmesan..

….40 minutes at  200º C in the oven…..and it’s ready!

You can serve it hot..template..or cold…

Recipes for Vegetable Lasagna and White Sauce Pasta

What will happen to this world if we do not have people who love to cook and experiment with their food? People like me, who cannot cook to save their life, however are die hard foodies, would always be thankful to people like Poonam Batra and Gaytri Vyas, who have very kindly shared their recipes with us.
Poonam Batra shares this recipe for Veg Lasgna, with healthy option thrown in too.
Ingredients:
Stuffing
Mixed Chopped Vegetables (Beans, Carrots, Peas) 2 cups
Zucchini 1Cup – Chopped
Cottage Cheese 1 Cup
Onion 1 Piece – Chopped
Chilly Powder
Salt to taste
Olive oil to Sauté the vegetables
Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes 1 Kg
Sugar 3 tsp
Chilly Powder 1/2 tsp
Fresh Cream 3 tbsp
Oregano
Salt to taste
Topping
White sauce 1 1/2 cup
Fresh cream 3 tbsp
Cheese 6 tbsp
Salt and Pepper
Ready Made Lasagna sheets 10 no.s
Method
Boil the sheets in water with few drops of oil. Drain and keep it on a greased dish.
Stuffing
Sauté onions till pink. Add vegetables and cook partially. Add zucchini; make sure they are not very soft. Add the seasoning.
Tomato Sauce
Blanch the tomatoes, Peel the skin and mash. Mix everything except the cream and boil to make sauce. Add cream in the end. For healthy variation, skip cream and add milk instead. Keep aside.
White Sauce
Mix cream and grated cheese with the white sauce. For healthy variation, add grated cottage cheese and skip cream n cheese all together.
Assembling
Grease a baking dish. Line it with sauce and layer it alternatively with Lasagna sheets, vegetables and sauce. The top layer should be of the sheets. Cover with white sauce and bake till done.
_________________________________________________________________
Gaytri Vyas shares recipe for White Sauce Pasta.
Ingredients

1.     2 tbsp. butter
2.     2 cups milk
3.     1 and a half cup full cream milk
4.     1 cup boiled pasta of your choice
5.     1 small tbsp. all purpose flour (maida)
6.     Mushroom thinly sliced
7.     3 processed cheese cubes or more if you prefer
8.     Black pepper
9.     Salt to taste
10.   Oregano for flavor

Method
1.     In a pan add 1 tbsp. butter, and sauté the sliced mushrooms till they are brown and
        keep them aside.
2.     In another pan, add butter, flour, roast flour so that it cooks but make sure it doesn’t get 
        brown.
3.     Add milk to it and stir continuously so as to avoid lumps.
4.     Let it heat a little and add cheese cubes in it after grating it or cutting in small pieces
        so that it melts easily.
5.     Now cook it until it comes to a boil.
6.     Add pasta, and cooked mushrooms.
7.     Bring it to a boil and you will notice that the sauce gets thicker.
8.     Add salt and pepper to taste (do not add before as the milk may curdle)
9.     Add roasted oregano on the top and enjoy with your loved ones.
Tips

1.     You can add other vegetables also of your choice.
2.     I’ve cooked it without flour but then it is not that thick.
3.     Put off the flame when the sauce is not that thick. It becomes thicker while you eat it.
4.     Domino’s oregano tastes best as the topping.
5.     This sauce can also be cooked with only vegetables, which also taste yummy.

Again friends, no one claims to be an expert here, and we all are together just for love of food. So go ahead and try these out, I am sure you would have a good time. Feel free to post your inputs, feedback or changes to these recipes in the comments.

The Big Chill Cafe – Dessert-a-thon : A report from FED raid

The Big Chill Cafe, a name that has risen to incredible heights in food scene of Delhi over the last decade. I am not able to recall any other joint that serves non-Indian cuisine that is as popular as The Big Chill Cafe. And as surprising as it sounds, my first rendezvous with them was just 2-3 weeks back, and since then I have been there 4 times, my last visit being last night itself.

What started as as a single restaurant in East of Kailash, now has 4 outlets, the original being closed a few years back. They are known for their desserts, more than anything else, and with my limited experience with them, I am not surprised. Whatever I have tried there till date, I have not been disappointed.

Giving the reputation and my desire to visit The Big Chill Cafe, when FED had to call for a meetup, it seemed to be an obvious choice, and the agenda was very clear, to sample very single cheese cake on their menu and then some. With date and time decided, 10 of us descended on Big chill for a RAID. And order was made pretty much simple to the waiter serving us, get ALL the cheesecakes on the menu and if there were some not on menu, get those as well.

This is what out table looked like 😀
Chocolate Double Decadence
Mississippi Mud Pie
Tiramisu Cheese Cake
 There we were 10 of us, sitting on a table with about 10 cheese cakes along with Banoffie Pie, Chocolate Truffle and Frozen Yoghurt, though I do not recollect all the names and the ones I remember might not be accurate, however you will get an idea.  There was Mississippi Mud Pie, Chocolate Double Decadence, Blueberrry Cheese Cake, Tiramisu Cheese Cake, Irish Cream Cheese Cake, Plain Cheese Cake, Mango Cheese Cake,  and waiters looking at us in amazement. Then started the conveyer belt, the desserts started doing the rounds and we were digging in each one of them one after the other. Each better or as good as other other one, least favorite of someone was the most favorite of other. Surprisingly we reached a point where small amount of some cake was left on the table and no one wanted to eat it, no one was full, however the senses were overloaded. Now we needed to change the taste, enough with those ‘starters’ :D.
FEDs at The Big Chill Cafe
FEDs at The Big Chill Cafe
Garlic Bread
Fattoush Salad
Penne Pasta with Mixed Sauce
Spaghetti and Mushrooms

Chicken Lasagna
Veg. Peri Peri Pizza
 Then came the main course, here I must mention that every time I have been to the Big Chill Cafe, they have managed to surprise me with their service and efficiency. The rates are quite reasonable for current times and portion sizes are good. We ordered several things including Pastas, Pizza, Garlic Bread and Fattoush Salad, I personally cannot comment on authenticity of the food, however we enjoyed everything we had, and it was not different from my experience earlier where we had a Pesto Pasta, Four seasons Pizza and Mezze Platter.
Veg. Four Seasons Pizza

Mezze Platter
Overall my 2 cents say, Big Chill Cafe is about no pretensions eating, in a relaxed atmosphere. The place is almost always full, informal, chirpy and they do not accept reservations over the phone and waiting for a table is quite expected.

It was a great evening, and as I have mentioned earlier on FED, that joy of sharing food is like no other, and this is what we discovered on that day as well, and thanks to The Big Chill Cafe for making it a pleasant experience.

If I am asked to rate this place, I would give it a 4/5.

PS : All pictures in this post  have been shot using my mobile phone camera, so pardon the quality.