Indian Accent, at the discreet The Manor hotel, is emblematic of the posh, hushed neighbourhood in which it is found — New Friends Colony West — where old money restraint is balanced by some new money moments of flashiness.
It is the kind of restaurant you expect to get featured in a scene from Dirty Sexy Money — with the rarified gentleman’s club air that comes from restaurants set in suburbs that house the monied and the titled.
Excellent service, superb knowledge of the menu from the serving staff and a quiet, warm welcome are USPs. But what sets it apart from others in Delhi is its inventive cooking. This is Indian food but not as you know it — it’s contemporary, offbeat and shows that someone’s been having fun in the kitchen. But not everyone is going to like it. Some may love the sense of adventure of trying a fois gras stuffed galawat with strawberry and green chilli chutney, but many may find the double whammy of richness a little too much. Some may enjoy the garlic and khada masala roasted tandoori chicken but others may miss the butter chicken. Well, said Samrat Banerjee, when that happens the guests are gently nudged towards trying the cuisine first.
Indian Accent won the Vir Sanghvi Award for Modern Indian Restaurant in Delhi 2008, a stamp of approval for what Executive Chef Manish Mehrotra has cooked up for the Old World Hospitality Group.
An obviously thoughtful menu features 36 dishes, and is complemented by a fine wine list put together by UK-based wine consultant Charles Metcalfe. The first-timer may do well to try the chef’s tasting menu. With wine selections (5 half glasses), the non-vegetarian tasting menu is Rs 2900 for dinner and Rs 1975 for lunch; vegetarians pay Rs 100 less.
The tasting menu gets off to an impressive start with a set of wholemeal semolina puchkas with masala couscous. Five tequila glasses are arranged on a platter, each containing a differently flavoured and coloured water — from earthy beetroot water to a tart tamarind. On each is perched a golgappa filled with semolina. This is street food, yes, but one that has moved from the lanes of Lajpat Nagar to the wide avenues of Prithviraj Road. Pick the puchkas as they’re pretty and memorable.
The hot starters are where you encounter the embarrassment of riches, that is the fois gras galawat. Both fois gras and the galouti kebab are kingly. Another hot starter, the Tandoori Scottish salmon with Greek style yoghurt, shows off how good the kitchen is with fish. Salmon is a good change from the usual fish used in tikka. Starters are served with a tropical Ville Maria Sauvignon Blanc, which works well with sea-food and dishes with spicy overtones.
We went off the tasting menu to try the restaurant’s signature maincourse — from a sumptuous tamarind glazed New Zealand lamb shank to a pan fried pork belly done with vindaloo masala. Best of the main course was the rice-crusted red snapper moily served with a pine-nut poriyal — the fish beautifully cooked and the sauce delicious. The mains are served with a crisp Green Point chardonnay and the rich Peter Lehmann 2005 Barossa Shiraz which works well with the lamb shank. Sides include wild mushroom kulcha with a truffle oil drizzle, tawa vegetables with sumac and kalamata olives and a tasty Zeera gnocci anardana with mustard oil.
Desserts are Indian in intent but global in construction — from a betel leaf panna cotta to sinful Old Monk rum balls served with Valrhona chocolate sauce. Best of them is a very playful Kahlua, Baileys, Cointreau Chuski trio. A glass of Muscat helps aid this final lap of what is undoubtedly one of the most memorable meals you will have in Delhi.