In addition to being the capital of the world’s largest democracy, New Delhi also happens to be one of the most underrated culinary cities in the world. From the famous street-food shops in Old Delhi that have been serving local specialities for decades to the culinary festivals held throughout the year, dedication to good food is an integral part of Delhi’s character.
For a more exclusive taste of what the city has on offer, there are a few restaurants that stand out. While a Michelin guide is still a long way off, these restaurants guarantee exceptional dining.
Considered the best restaurant in India and listed at 19 in the latest Top 50 Asian Restaurants list, Indian Accent redefines classic Indian food in a fun and flavorful manner. Under the tutelage of Chef Manish Malhotra, the restaurant has achieved worldwide fame and now has outlets in New York and London.
For a first-timer, the Chef’s Menu is an ideal way to take a culinary journey through the different flavors of the country – from puchkas, five waters, and the duck cornet to the saucy chicken curry and the delectably light daulat ki chaat.
Each guest is made to feel at home from the moment they step inside the restaurant. The service is smooth and perfectly coordinated with well-timed gaps between courses, encouraging diners to enjoy the presentations in a leisurely fashion.
The highlight of a visit to Indian Accent is the availability of the chef on the floor. Chef Malhotra is humble to a fault and can be seen mingling with the guests, recommending dishes, and making sure that each meal is a memorable experience.
When it comes to iconic New Delhi restaurants, Bukhara, situated in ITC Maurya, one of Delhi’s more exclusive hotels, takes the cake. The restaurant’s specialty lies in the fact that its menu is extremely limited, but more importantly, has remained primarily the same since it started in 1978.
The interior comes across as casual, with backless stools for seating and an apron on the table (as guests are encouraged to eat with their hands). All this is part of the environment that Bukhara aims to create. It’s fine dining with a façade that allows the customer to take it easy and relax a little while they enjoy classic Indian no-fuss cuisine.
The dal Bukhara is one of the restaurant’s legendary creations that involves cooking black lentils for over 18 hours.
Add to that dish the intense meatiness of the sikandari raan (a whole leg of lamb) or the playfulness of the naan Bukhara, a bread so large that it can feed a few people, and it’s a meal to remember.
Bukhara’s claim to international fame has been its celebrity guests which have included the Clintons, Roger Federer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Tony Blair. A forty-year-old legacy, Bukhara has and hopefully will always be an essential part of the city’s food philosophy.
Olive Bar & Kitchen
Olive’s Mediterranean décor transports guests from the frenzy of the city. This lazy chameleon changes its look along with the day. Its courtyard seating is always in demand, and during the weekend it is picture-perfect for a lazy brunch. As night falls, the ambiance oozes an intimate, romantic aura sure to impress a date.
The food at Olive is well defined and prepared with a lot of passion for ingredients.
The dishes compliment the setting not just with their sophisticated presentation, but also in the refinement of the flavor profiles that are a delight for the palate. Olive Bar and Kitchen is a wholesome destination where one can have a meal to remember and feel carefree with their concoctions at the bar.
Pluck is all about elegance and simplicity. The ambiance is classy yet inviting for the whole family. Their in-house garden, which guarantees ingredients are served from garden to table, makes the restaurant unique. The food at Pluck is intricate with a focus on flavors, techniques, and presentation. European and Indian cuisine get a more modern twist and some of the dishes, especially the soups, are “completed” on the table, adding a hint of drama to the food, and the staff are eager to talk about their creations.
The sophistication with which service is carried out at the restaurant is exemplary. Their a-la-carte menu comes on an iPad and comprises short videos demonstrating the various dishes in preparation. Pluck makes for an excellent all-day dining option on any day of the week except for Sunday, when their brunch takes center stage.
In the end, even when you remove all the bells and whistles, the complexities of the food in combination with the dedication demonstrated towards it, makes Pluck one of the premiere destinations to have an exquisite dining experience in New Delhi.
Artusi Ristorante e Bar
With its location in one of Delhi’s popular and crowded local markets, Artusi doesn’t at first come across as a fine-dining option. However, this thought is quickly set aside upon entering the restaurant and glancing through the menu, which focuses on quintessential Italian food from the Emilia-Romagna region.
Made with the best of ingredients – by hand, the old-fashioned way – and a whole lot of love, the authenticity of the flavors is due to the owners and chef being locals of the region, and they are very proud of their culinary heritage.
As ever dedicated to authenticity, you won’t find any pizza on the menu, but their handmade gourmet pasta with meat options is a personal favorite.
It is in Artusi and so much more that visitors to New Delhi find a melting pot of cultures, a place where diners can taste the world and experience an amalgamation of the planet’s finest cuisines.