Lunch at Lodi, The Garden Restaurant is a treat this time of the year. You sit outside, sip chilled mocktails, watch the expats, the tourists and the pretty people of Delhi enjoy the midday winter sun.
This unexpected gem of a restaurant in Central Delhi charms because of its expansive garden with pebbled walkways into which is set wooden tables and chairs and some pretty lounging areas where you can lie back against the cushions and pick at your hummus and moutabel and make desultory conversation.
The biggest tragedy about this gorgeous restaurant is they are not licensed to serve alcohol outside (which it does in its other eating areas which include a ground floor dining room, an atrium and a bar floor)which, of course, is not conducive to long leisurely lunches outside with everyone getting drunker and drunker on chilled Chardonnay or a heartier red wine as the weather cools.
The menu at Lodi is multi-cuisine and is a study in foreign languages (a bit problematic for the diner who may have preferred to have the names of certain dishes translated into something recognisable).That the Lodi manages to swing from French to Italian with a touch of Lebanese and Indian but not all that come out of the kitchen are as good as the setting deserves.The moutabel (Rs165) is a lovely creamed brinjal dip, garlicky, with a bit of a bite and with that lovely smokiness that comes from the brinjal having been charred well. Very similar to baba ganoush, it was the best that we’ve come across in the city. The hummus (Rs165) too is good and does quite nicely for an appetiser.A peri peri chicken liver starter (Rs295) was great the first time around and disappointingly undercooked the second time.
Yes, chicken liver must be cooked very quickly but these had spent such scant time in the pan, the peri peri sauce had pinked with its juices.The choice of main courses is extensive, with a range of pastas (good vegetarian options) and wide choice of meat and fish dishes.Consistency in the kitchen may be a problem because, again, the first time the Manali Trout was had, it was great and the second time it was dry and tasteless.We tried a fillet mignon with a mushroom sauce (Rs625). The fillet was cooked far longer than the requested medium, so was chewy and difficult to cut through and the mushroom sauce was too thin and clear-soup-like for the steak. The New Zealand Lamb Chops (Rs845) were a better option. A Paella Valenciana (Rs695) was a good helping of fish, prawns, calamari and mussels saffron rice.
A new trend in the city is the presentation of the dessert tray at the table which makes sense seeing how the decision to do dessert is often aided by sight of what’s on offer. The chocolate mousse is creamy and delicious and a chocolate crunch cake is soft and lovely with its topping of caramelised nuts.Service at the Lodi veers between charming and uninterested. The waiters are lovely and treat you well but they mostly seem to be in a flap and you can go unattended for long stretches. This seems to be more an issue of training and co-ordination than any slight on their part.