It was my dad’s birthday yesterday and we decided to have dinner at PiccaDelhi Circus – the new multi-cuisine restaurant below what used to be the Plaza Cinema hall a few months ago. Why PiccaDelhi? Well, two reasons:
1. Veer Sanghvi had carried a positive review in his Rude Food column in HT’s Brunch magazine. I’ve tried out almost all restaurants that Mr. Sanghvi has recommended and have always found him on the ball.
2. CP is an all-time favorite with my dad – our family used to go there almost every weekend when we lived in Old Delhi, not so many years ago. Since PiccaDelhi is in CP, it was an added incentive.
So how was the experience? Well, mixed really. First the important part – the food itself. We were a large group, eight of us - we are a joint family – and ended up ordering almost the entire menu under Indian cuisine (except for the soups which were Chinese).
The soups were well-prepared and served at the right temperature, but they could have done with larger portions. In fact that applies not just to soups, but to all the dishes – the portions were quite meager. For starters, we ordered Chaat (in three varieties – Gujarati, Marwari and Delhi Chaat. Having lived for more than 20 years in old Delhi, I thought I knew all about Chaat, but discovered new varieties!). Again, the Chaats were all good. Crisp wafers, the right amount of curd and spices, well-layered for you to discover that hidden taste …. And, the portions were again small. Just when I had begun to really absorb the mood of the Gujarati Chaat, it got over. Not good.
The main course was traditional North Indian: Daal Makhani, Parantha, Butter Chicken, Malai Kofta, Paneer Bhurji and a couple more dishes I cannot recall. The butter chicken was AWESOME – I can’t recall having eaten better. Everything else was passable. It tasted like the food Punjabi restaurants would serve you in downtown Seattle – not quite so fresh, the masalas not tasting right somehow, somewhat placid. I am not a fan of spicy food – I get hiccups if it is too spicy – but this was too angrezi was for my taste. The biggest disappointment was the Daal. It is not easy to spoil Daal Makhani – it is too simple a recipe and you have to prepare it only three four times to get good. I wonder how the cook got it that wrong. My (actually Gagan’s) old trick of adding some curd and a dollop of butter also couldn’t rescue it. What didn’t help was that the portions were small and they served the dishes in open containers, so the food got cold rather quickly.
The ambience could do with a little less imagination. It is a big hall with a high ceiling, which makes it feel quite spacious and luxurious, but what mars it is the obvious effort to live up to the name PiccaDelhi. So the waiters are dressed as London policemen, a small corner is occupied by the facade of a London-Bus and you have a kitchen named the South Hall. It looks very artificial and grates on the eye. I wish they would change the decor. The other thing they could change is the seating - it is hard, wooden seats with straight backs. Not comfortable at all. The service however is efficient and the staff well-trained. They have this guy who does portraits – he made one for my mom and sent it across just as we were finishing dinner. It was a nice surprise and my old lady was totally charmed.
So am I going there again? Maybe. Just to try a different cuisine – maybe Chinese. The weekend is right around the corner!