Delhi with its rich tradition of eating and serving varied cuisines is the food capital of the country. Whether you crave north Indian chaat, a south Indian sadhya or are in the mood for a ghee-laden Mughlai feast, options abound.
Along with this variety comes the traditional rivalries between competing establishments in the same category- if Nathu has its Bengali Sweet House, Wenger's has its Sugar and Spice!
This week, we visit some legendary mid-segment eateries and compare them with their closest competitors. Restaurants were ranked on parameters such as promptness and courtesy of service, food quality, taste of signature dish and general ambiance.
It's the ultimate food face-off. Finally, you'll know which one of your old favourites is best.
Sugar & Spice Vs Wenger's
Established in 1926, Wenger's in CP is a Delhi landmark. Of its cakes, desserts, sandwiches and baked savouries, the cream caramel custard is a personal favourite. The shami kebab, chicken patty, chocolate truffle pastry and black forest, however, are the more popular picks. The ambience is that of a colonial tea room. There is no seating arrangement, but the staff serves customers with a smile despite the crowds.
From L to R: Sugar & Spice, cupcakes on display at Wenger's
Sugar & Spice started in 1989. The oldest shop, in Khan Market offers confectionaries and savouries. The popular picks include the chicken roll, chicken patty and chocolate truffle cake. The selection is smaller. We opted for the chicken patty and chocolate truffle at both places. While the patty at Wenger's wins hands down- the crust is flaky and the filling moist and creamy, unlike at Sugar & Spice which was too dry. The competition was close when it came to the chocolate truffle. Sugar & Spice bakes a sinfully chocolaty cake, but though the margin is slim, our vote goes to Wengers.
Karim Hotels Vs Al-Jawahar
When it comes to savouring the best non-vegetarian dishes, it is difficult to find a better spot than the lane that leads to Karim Hotels and Al-Jawahar in Old Delhi. It is as difficult to compare the two restaurants that have both been catering to foodies for decades. The two most famous dishes available at the restaurants are mutton korma and chicken burra.
From L to R: Servings at Al-Jawahar , famous Mughlai eatery Karim Hotels
No restaurant can possibly match the taste of the burra served at Karim's. However, we found the mutton korma served at Al-Jawahar more flavourful. Al-Jawahar scores more when it comes to the service with prompt waiters and staff. However, if Karim lags behind on this parameter it's because it is always crowded. Prices are comparable and range between Rs 300-600 at both.
Bengali Sweet House Vs Nathu's Sweets
Sweets are the two most prominent shops in Bengali market. Over the years, both have earned a reputation for their array of sweets and snacks. During the busy spells, Bengali Sweet House has the advantage of getting more footfall as it has more seating capacity.
From L to R: Array of snacks at Bengali Sweet House, Nathu's Sweets
But how do they fare when it comes to food? Chola Bhatura at Bengali Sweet House (Rs 82 excluding taxes) is low on grease, moderate on spices, tastes fresh and is filling. Chana Bhatura at Nathu's costs Rs 97 (excluding taxes). We noted an excess of oil in both the chana and the bhaturas, which definitely affected the taste.
Saravana Bhavan Vs Sagar
When you want to grab authentic south Indian fare, Saravana Bhavan and Sagar are the two go-to places for Delhiites. The cramped space was a bit of a dampener on our visit to Sagar at Defence Colony. But the mood cheered up as soon as the food arrived. Piping hot rasam on a cold Delhi afternoon served with crackling papads followed by the crisp Mysore masala dosa was a feast that was easy on the pocket (meal for two - Rs 500 approx). The service was perfect with the sambar being quickly replenished.
From L to R: Saravana Bhavan, Sagar
At Saravna Bhavan, the dosa lacked the same crispness and the bowl of sambar was not refilled as promptly. In fact, it all seemed half-hearted. The place scores in terms of space and ambience but the miserly service killed it for us. (Meal for two Rs 400 approx).