So, it’s back to that diet after a festive season of eating too much good food, drinking too much good wine and generally being completely unmindful of wallet and waistline. The festive bingeing started at The LAP Garden, where we spent an extraordinary amount of money drinking and eating — the biggest bill I’ve ever paid at around $100 a head, which would put it right up there with some of the most expensive restaurants in the world.
Admittedly, over a third of the bill was spent on two bottles of wine — one of them the pleasantly nice Tarapaca Pinto Noir — but the $54 per head (sans liquor) price puts it on par with Shanghai’s Whampoa Club or Milan’s oldest restaurant Bouecc, where meals can be had for around $60 a head.
Lap is the fancy celeb-designed after hours zone that is a joint venture between restaurateur AD Singh and actor Arjun Rampal. The restaurant has been created as a premium private club of sorts for the well-heeled who are happy to drop a Rs 1.5 lakh fee for the pleasure of sitting and quaffing premium malts and multi-cuisine at tables that have been designed by the likes of Gauri Khan, Arjun Rampal and Rohit Bal.
Lap’s biggest challenge is that is in the horribly dated Hotel Samrat. Lap itself will remain members-only and so, to both mitigate the mutterings of the hoi polloi and try and get some of that middle class spending power in, The LAP Garden has opened.
It’s a lovely space and makes for wonderful al fresco eating in the day. At night it is romantic, but only for those who choose not to be seen with the people they’re dining with, because the garden is impossibly dark — you can’t see your menu, you can’t see your food and if you’re drunk, you can’t see the people you’re eating with. Staggering off to the bathroom is another exercise in battling the forces of darkness as the restrooms are down a dark passage.
That said, the food is, mostly, good. We started with some Phyllo Wrapped Raan (Rs450), Sea Water Basa (Rs 475) and Japanese Gyoza (Rs 550). The phyllo is a lovely, buttery piece of pastry that has soaked up the spices used in the nicely cooked lamb. The half dozen shrimp, chicken and pork gyoza (Japanese potstickers) were good, not great, and the basa could have been more flavourful.
The main courses were better barring the New Zealand Lamb Rack (Rs 1,150), which was too ordinary even though it should have been better with the use of palm sugar and tamarind. A New Zealand Lamb en Croute (Rs 1,150) was beyond tender and pinkly perfect. The covering of pastry was a little soggy but the meat was lovely.
A traditional hamburger
(Rs 875) was delicious but not worthy of its hefty price tag and a Classic Grilled Angus (Rs 1,400) was cooked to medium perfection and pronounced delicious.
The LAP Garden does a very popular Sunday brunch with lots of live food stations and a special area for the kids. At Rs 2,250 a head, including alcohol, this may be a better option for those who do not want to wake up the next morning clutching the credit card bill and muttering, “I could have bought a Kindle or a Donna Karan dress instead”.
Service is good and suitably attentive but that may be because we were the only diners there on the night.