Now that the weather is perfect, I spend large amounts of time at Lodi — The Garden Restaurant. You get really stylish surroundings — some of the city’s oldest, tallest trees — a piece of nature and an excellent chance to people-watch shamelessly. The food ranges from adequate to great, depending on what you order. Sunday afternoons see a crowded brunch, for which prior booking is recommended, unless you are willing to settle for a table inside the restaurant. The inside is a pleasant proposition once summer sets in, but for now, the best thing about the restaurant is its outdoor seating.
The menu is a trifle ambitious and I get the impression that the staff is not quite up to handling it. Maybe the solution is a simpler menu. My advice: stick to the simplest-sounding dishes and you can’t go wrong. Grills and red meats are the safest option if you want a really good meal here.
A few items that I generally pick include some of the starters. Mezze is served in individual servings, with quite generous portions (Rs 145). Thus you can elect to have only hummus or only muttabbal, and it will be served with pita bread.
The Katari kebab is a minced lamb kebab and would have been indistinguishable from a seekh kebab had it not been
for the subtle spicing. I just wish it had a trifle more garlic in the marinade: the meat usually strikes me as a little gamey.
My personal favourite is the lamb Moroccan (Rs 565). A generous portion of shoulder of lamb is roasted and served with a robust, full-bodied sauce. Along with the accompaniments, it is a complete meal for a hearty appetite and one of the best offerings on the menu.
My other favourite is Andaman jeenga (Rs 795), in which three or four prawns or prime freshness are grilled and served with a miniscule amount of a lemon butter sauce. No cornflour, no plethora of seasonings, no gilding the lily by over-cooking and/or over-seasoning — it is a relief that this dish suffers no such fate.
Which is why, on their Sunday brunch buffet, you will be well advised to help yourself to as many things on the live grill as you can: prawns, button mushrooms, zucchini, chicken — everything can be served as simply as you wish. The brunch also features several fresh herbs, seasonings and vegetables that have obviously come from the owner’s farmhouse, judging by the generosity with which they are served.
Lodi serves an addictive beverage: a decoction of lime juice, ginger and honey.