Via this blog, you’re getting to know me… and a little my friend Annie Mariel too. And from our adventures in Paris this past September, you may already know we like to eat in nice restaurants, especially when we travel.
FIRE @ The Park Hotel – New Delhi
This restaurant was recommended by our hotel concierge. We asked him that if we were Bollywood stars staying in Delhi, where would we like to eat? Among the recommendations given was FIRE, although what he actually said was AGNI, the Sanskrit word for fire. But AGNI is the club, not the restaurant at The Park.
The décor of FIRE is super modern and chic. A panel of “flames” highlights one side of the dining room, changing in color from deep magenta to deep orange to fire red. Super nice indeed.
We loved that in the menu all vegetarian dishes are clearly marked with a green square next to the name. No need to creatively ask how a dish is made to make sure it is truly vegetarian. Now, finding out if a dish is spicy to our tolerance level of spiciness that’s another thing altogether. We also liked the menu had an Organic dishes section.
This is what we ordered… a tandoori broccoli starter to share, stewed morel mushrooms for me, some organic black lentils for Annie Mariel, and a sweet couscous and plain naan to accompany it all.
Just after we ordered, in true fine dining fashion, we received an amouse bouche – don’t ask me in detail what it was, but what I know is that in had some lentils and yogurt and it was so spicy I was not able to eat more than two bites from it. When the server asked me if I had not liked it and I replied that it was delicious but just too spicy for me, the chef sent over some mini roti with pineapple chutney that was just divine. The perfect cooling effect my palate needed at the time.
The broccoli came with picled onions and it was delicious… to me it could have been a great side dish, more than a starter. But I enjoyed it all the same.
Then the entrees arrived. The server just serves a bit of everything on the plate for you to enjoy. They don’t look particularly great on the plate, but they tasted delicious. At least what I could stomach. The morels were great, but spicy and I didn’t even dare try the lentils when Annie Mariel mentioned that they were even too spicy for her taste and she can handle heat way more than I can. We complimented the server for her sweet couscous recommendation and the plain naan because without them, it would have been harder to eat all that spicy food.
But what also made the evening a success was the company… yes, I arrived at the restaurant with just Annie Mariel, but we left the restaurant with 4 new friends – Fabio from Italy, Sergio from Barcelona, my table neighbor from Bangalore and Steve from Singapore, who were all in Delhi on business. Annie Mariel and I have a real talent to be able to make friends with total strangers when we travel and this trip to India was certainly not the exception.
I bring this up because our food was not the only dishes we tried that evening… my friend from Bangalore, being also a vegetarian, gave us a taste of his dish. He was so intrigued when he saw me taking pictures of everything on the table, even the menu that we struck a conversation. I believe he had the Gobhi Hara Masala, but I am not really sure. It was also super spicy… so spicy indeed I ended up ordering a sweet lassi to help me cool off my tongue.
We didn’t order desserts because our friends Fabio and Sergio shared theirs with us… a true international night.
India is a very poor country overall… but there are people in India with money; a true juxtaposition of the haves and have not’s. That is evident when you visit this DLF Emporio mall in the outskirts of Delhi – Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Cartier, Tiffany, and every other designer store you might imagine. And amidst all these designer stores you will also find delicious fine dining.
I learned about ZEST in a magazine we had at the hotel. I was intrigued because it mentioned the restaurant had 6 kitchens – Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Thai and Continental. I figured if we were not in the mood to eat Indian again there would be plenty of options there.
We arrived at ZEST in the early afternoon after a full morning of visiting temples and shopping. We wanted to just nibble a few things so our appetite would not be spoiled for dinner. This is what we ordered:
Vegetable Spring Rolls – For us, the best thing we ordered. Can’t fight with anything fried…
Grilled Paneer cheese seasoned with Carom – very spicy, but really nice. I liked the taste the grill gave the soft cheese. Tasted really Indian.
Foccacia-style bread – what we got resembled nothing to true foccacia bread. It was basically pizza dough flavored with rosemary, parmesan and garlic. Nonetheless, really tasty…
Z’attar Roasted potatoes – Too greasy for our taste, but I wanted to try z’attar. Nothing to brag about in my opinion…
Charoli Kebabs – this was our least favorite of the bunch. Too spicy to even try to understand the rest of the ingredients…
We loved the service, the music and the total ambiance of the place. We would have loved to visit it at night and try some of the entrees, but this was certainly too far away from our Connaught Place hotel to visit at night. It took us almost an hour to reach the DLF Emporio mall with the Delhi traffic. But if you are visiting Delhi and have the time, you should certainly try it too.