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Bikramjit Ray

Executive Editor at BW Hotelier, he is a renowned name in F&B industry. In between being a producer, director, anchor and food critic he keeps living his life sitting at a table, waiting for my next meal.

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Harking Back To The Good Old Days

The origins of what most of us consider western or Continental food can still be found in clubs across the country. Many restaurants have tried their hands at replicating the food and ambience and usually have ended up serving mediocre food in faux atmospheres. All that changed the moment Marut Sikka opened up Delhi Club House at Sangam Complex in RK Puram, New Delhi.

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Let me confess to you right now, I am a sucker for this food, as are so many of you reading this column. I grew up in Kolkata and going out for much of my childhood actually centered around clubs (on those days when children were allowed in) and eating the food served in the dining room a la carte. When I went to see Sikka’s new restaurant, I was not fully convinced, because it’s a kind of food that comes with a very strong tinge of nostalgia. It’s very easy to get overcritical about something which one associates with goodies from long ago.
Being an Army product, Sikka grew up in club s literally and so weeding his way into the hearts of the powers that be at clubs across India to get his first cut of recipes, was comparatively simple for him, Sikka told me.
The menu is a great collection of food from clubs across the country. For me, what I really liked were the vegetarian dishes on the menu. Something that I never really associated with club food growing up. Take the example of the soft, delicate but spicy nano idli set from the Madurai Club, or the Paniyarams, which is originally from the Coimbatore club. Both worth having, even if you do feel particularly carnivorous. 

Interspersed among the dishes from various clubs across the country are those which are the product of the Delhi Club House kitchen. One dish I found particularly outstanding, because it did not pull any punches and was quite sharp, was the air fried pani puri, an invention of Delhi Club House, itself.
Main courses range from the dak bungalow chicken roast to the very famous railway mutton curry from the Railways Club (did not say which one, because they each have their own version, I think this was Sikka playing it safe!).
I tried the Meuniere, which was nice, though not like the version I remember having at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, long long ago. The dish was from there, and I confess, the cooks who would probably have made it those many decades ago, have gone to culinary heaven. 
The most predictable part of the menu is the sweet section and I for one, was very thankful for that. In many ways, this is a product that actually would thrive with predictability. So, the sticky toffee pudding, or the fruit cream, or even the trifle pudding all pull at your heartstrings and your sugar levels (these are NOT moderately sweet).
The restaurant also has a great alcohol menu with my standout favourite being the gin and lime, something I associate with my father and the accusing glare of my mum. |
Sikka has got the ambience of the restaurant absolutely spot on. It didn’t hurt, that when I did turn up on a Wednesday afternoon, the place was packed with parties of ladies having their afternoon repast. You would not have missed a heartbeat to imagine the place to be an extension of the many clubs across the country. Sikka has been able to really deliver a product which will be a hit and has immense potential to grow across the country.
The prices are very well positioned. The average dish does not cost more than 350, with a few in the mid-400s (for the seafood and fish items). 
Delhi Club House. Ground Floor, Sangam Courtyard, Major Somnath Marg, Sector 9, R K Puram, New Delhi. For reservations call: 011 2671 4772/3. Generous Meal for two with a drink each: Rs 2000 ++
Revisiting An Icon Because You Have An Excuse
It Isn't often that you see an icon being created in front of your eyes during your lifetime. In Delhi, we have had the good fortune to see a gastronomic one go from strength to strength. It is without doubt one of my personal favourites and I get in whenever I get the chance. And just this week, the Indian Accent, at the Manor Hotel—the restaurant I am speaking about—became TripAdvisor’s favourite restaurant in India. No mean feat and a well-deserved one.
Chef Manish Mehrotra, who has been at the helm of affairs from the time the restaurant began eight years ago is indefatigable in his need to change perceptions about Indian cuisine.  
“It’s our guests who have given us this award,” Mehrotra told me when I asked the de rigueure question about his reaction. More importantly, I got to know that a change in menu was imminent, sometimes end of this month. 
“The problem is becoming is that our new menu has so many favourites, that when I remove one, customers invariably complain,” he told me. Even so, the new menu is going to have some really interesting traditional recipes normally cooked at home served with the famous Indian Accent twist. Something to look forward to while celebrating Diwali. The experience isn’t cheap. A tasting menu for one person, including taxes is Rs 3600. But look at it this way, you do need to give yourself a treat occasionally, no? Plus, come mid-December, I am sure the price will seem cheaper compared to the outlet they are going to open in New York.
Indian Accent, The Manor Hotel, 77 Friend’s Colony West, New Delhi. For Reservations Call: 011 4323 5151. Tasting menu for two: Rs. 7200 (without alcohol).
The author, Bikramjit Ray, is Executive Editor, BW Hotelier

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