Lodhi at Aman, New Delhi is a quirky example of how the city’s newest hotel marches to its own beat. The architecture of the hotel is contemporary Mughal, a genre that has surprisingly not been done to death in our neck of the woods.
Lodhi serves — no, not Mughlai — Catalonian food. It was a master stroke to attempt this Spain’s cuisine, because the hotel has, in one fell swoop, accomplished the twin objectives of showcasing a cutting edge understanding of western pre-plated food in the starters, and the almost-ethnic glories of that section of Catalonian cooking that is likely to appeal to our palate.
The tiny starters menu shows off the talent in the kitchen and has fun playing with premium ingredients. Seared foie gras with pickled cherries (Rs 1,700) is a masterpiece of the smoothness of duck liver and the sourness of the cherries. You do have to pair foie gras with a tart ingredient for maximum effect. Roasted vegetable from the wood-fired oven, olive toast (Rs 800) looks like a painting.
Most chefs are obsessed with giving height to the food on the plate: roasted vegetables looks as if it had been painted onto the plate by an artist — the Spanish, vegetarian version of carpaccio! Beetroot with manchego cream and hazelnut (Rs 700) is a clever rendition of the sweetness of beetroot three ways: sliced beetroot, beetroot coulis and powdered, oven-dried beetroot contrasted with a quenelle of cream flavoured with Manchego cheese.
The best of the main courses is undoubtedly the Catalonian fish stew (Rs 2,800), served with saffron potatoes and spinach. Like all of Lodhi’s main courses, this one too is served in a cast iron pan, which would in Catalonia symbolise grandma’s kitchen, but in the earth-toned chic of Aman New Delhi, acts as a tiny ethnic apostrophe.
There are no pre-plated main courses at the Lodhi — the accent is on shared meals, literally and figuratively. Thus, while the fish stew (strange name, for it consists of prawns, clams and squid besides two types of fish) is meant to be shared by two people, it can easily be stretched for four. Do leave space for their decadent desserts.