28 June, 2016

Food Review: Artusi Ristorante e Bar

Yesterday, I was invited to do a review for Artusi in Greater Kailash-2, Delhi. First and foremost, because of my personal tastes and likes and because of the readership of this blog, the only reviews we do are of A+ restaurants in the city. The ones that have earned great reputation amongst the discerning clients. Artusi totally met our expectations and is worthy of my review. 
Oscar Balcon is an Italian. He is well travelled, food and wine lover. His wife, Gurpinder Balcon, and he run the place. It is their bran child. They are food and wine lovers. It is their first enterprise. He was a banker. He had lived in all continents of world. The food served in Artusi is from region called, Emilia Romagna. They have 2 Italian chefs from the same region. The region is famous for home made pastas. More than 40 types of pastas served in the restaurant. They use best ingredients. Specially best flour from Italy so that the guests get the same final product.
When I went there yesterday, there were many Japanese people sitting. I must also add they were very loud, noisy and ill mannered Japanese (I always thought Japanese are very soft spoken, polished and well mannered. I must be wrong). Anyways, I was told that they have 90% Indian clients and 10% foreigners. The place is frequented by elite and discerning clients who are well traveled and are looking for good food. It is a serious fine dining place with basic décor. It gives you a feel of cozy, homely place in a nice neighbourhood. It is a quality restaurant and supposedly to be the best Italian restaurant in town. Light music played in background and one could easily enjoy dinner and healthy conversation over wines and food. The place is packed most of the times.

We started with Prosecco- Della casa (dry). Ca Del Doge. Rs.675/-

We were served a bread basket with sun dried tomato, olives and extra virgin olive oil.

They have a nice extensive wine list which is a passion of Mr. Oscar. All their wines are Italian.

To start with, we had Tomino- Toma is round shape. It had cheese seasoned 3-6 months. With assorted mushroom and truffle oil-. It is one of their signature speciality. Rs.680/-
Aaah! It was heavenly delicious. Cheese mushroom...life could not be better. Must try.

We also ordered a salad from their menu called Ferro. It has rocket leaves, goat cheese, pear, grapes, raisin, pine nuts. Fine vinegar balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Rs. 590/-
It had extremely nice and delicate taste. You could enjoy different flavours. None of the ingredient overpowered the other. It was just right, just the perfect salad.

Then I got a small portion of two vegetarian pastas and my friend similarly got 2 portions of non vegetarian pastas. Mine were Raviolli- stuffed with ricotta, spinach, served in butter asparagus and sage. Priced at Rs. 820/-  
My first dish is called Raviolo agli asparagi. It was delicate in taste with yummy cheese. The only thing I could say about both by dishes were- YUMM.
My second dish was Triangoli alle verdure cotte. Priced at Rs. 790/- These are triangle shaped pasta pockets filled with roasted and spiced vegetables in fine tomato sauce in peperoncino and garlic.  It is green in colour and I found it to be the best.

Notice the big smile on my face. The dish looked and smelled so good. Heavenly.

People come here for authentic Italian food. They are famous for their hand made pastas and imported ingredients. They do not change anything to suit Indian palette. Rather, they are proud to keep it very authentic.That is what has earned them many returning customers. Every ingredient is highly quality controlled. Chef checks everything. They prefer not to suggest the dish than doing a bad one.

My friend had these two non vegetarian dishes:

Tagilatella al ragu priced at Rs. 890/-, is hand made noodles from the Emilia Romagna set in minced pork meat sauce. 
Cappellaccio Carbonara priced at Rs. 890/- Hand made hat shaped pasta filled with cheese. Served in traditional carbonara sauce with eggs, cream, grated cheese, bacon and ground pepper.- start with this. If you like bacon, this is the dish for you. Both the dishes were excellent and highly recommended for your choice in non vegetarian dishes.

We were served Sangiovese Villa Giulia with food. This red wine is excellent with pasta. It has very balanced  tannins. Must try with your food. 

The General Manager there, Aman Choudhry was extremely helpful in guiding us through our food and wines. He speaks Italian fluently as he has stayed eight and a half years in Italy. If you are allergic to gluten, the restaurant ensures you gluten free food. From kitchen till table- from chefs till servers, they are trained about gluten free food. In fact, they do take care if you have any food allergies. Very few restaurants in Delhi offer this.

Next I ordered Risotto e Caponata. It is priced at Rs. 890/-. It is diced vegetables, fresh tomatoes, pine nuts and raisins stewed in sauce with slightly sweet and sour notes on a bed of classic Carnarali rice Risotto alla Parmigiana. For vegetarians, the options are pastas and risottos. But I must say both their options are delicious...ammm heavenly. It just melted in the mouth.

You have many more options for non vegetarians- fish, meat, pork, lamb chops, etc. My friend ordered Truffled Scallops priced at Rs.1380/-  pan seared in vodka sauce served with cauliflower puree topped with crispy parma, ham shards and black tarruto butter. It tasted excellent and we do recommend it.
The other options could be Snapper, sea bass, salmon, gamberoni/ jumbo prawns, lobsters.

With this we had Albizzia Chardonnay Toscana. Frescobaldi - year 2013 White wine. Italian food is never complete without wine. You must savour good wines from their collection with your food to get the complete enriching experience.

Artusi is small and cozy. It has capacity for 48 covers including the bar. They have kept it small and authentic. When people are celebrating, the place can become loud and noisy but it definitely has most amazing Italian food which is hard to find even in Italy today because of the increasing costs of the ingredients.

For desserts, we chose Panna Cotta ai Fichi e le Mandorie priced at Rs.820/-. It is their signature dessert and is eggless. It is accompanied by sweet figs and almonds. We also had Pere al vino rosso con sarbetto al limone priced at Rs.880/-. It is baked pears macerated in delicious red wine and creamy Italian lemon sherber. Both the desserts are the yummiest ones I have ever had. They are insanely good.

To digest such delicious meal, towards the end we had Grappa and Limoncello.

We were served home made cookies with it. It had almond and fresh strawberry jam.

Artusi also sells gift cards of value 2000, 5000 and10,000 to gift dinner to friends.

Location of Artusi:
M-24, M Block Market, Greater Kailash (GK) 2, New Delhi
The place is expensive but worth it. Must must try.

26 June, 2016

Tango/ Milonga in Delhi

We have a fantastic new milonga in Delhi. It is initiative of Eduardo. It will happen every Friday and there will be a beginner's class before that. You are all welcome to join. Last Friday was a soft launch and coming Friday, 1st July we launch it officially with lots of media and celebrities.
You are all invited. 

21 June, 2016

Lounge Review: Entourage

Yesterday I was invited to India’s first Sitcom themed lounge at Defence Colony. The  concept behind Entourage Lounge Defence Colony is extremely cool and innovative. You’ll find the walls full of artwork from your favourite shows like Friends, How I met your mother, etc. Each drink and dish is also named after that. Entourage is a unique concept place for all reality TV series addicts it is a must visit place. It is located in the defence colony market just next to Swagath. Entourage is different when compared with other restaurants in Defence Colony. It is a 3 story restaurant. On the ground floor they have their own bar, 1st floor fine dining sitting and 2nd floor is lounge.

To start with, we got their signature drink,  Jesse Pinkman’s Bitchen batch bitch
Inspired from ‘breaking bad’ Blue Lagoon. It was a visual delight served in a beaker/ lab flask with Nitrogen fumes arising from the glass. Menu does not say what it is made of. We got to know that it is Bacardi base. It was nice and soft. It did not feel much alcohol. All their Domestic liquor cocktails are priced at Rs.250/- and foreign liquors are Rs.350/-
Each one is served in individual trays with a picture of the character they symbolise.

We also ordered The Pablo Escobar  Mojito (Inspired from Narcos). He was the most important narco trafficker from Columbia. Classic- with little accent of basil. Instead of basil, we got its Indian version- tulsi. But the drink was very good.

Many times electricity went off and then came in few minutes. There was a loud and noisy group. I was told that the target clientele for the lounge was 18-25 year. They loved these sitcom pictures, they take pictures with these posters. They are the people who are tough to please. In older group, the expectations are different. When you go bar hopping, you generally expect bright lights etc.
This place has a distinct look and feel. After work, one can come here, watch Tv, have a drink, watch a game, etc. The music was very loud music early in evening. And the choice of music was really bad. That was a dampener. Place like this would surely be different at midnight- crowded with youngsters. I am sure it is buzzing at night. Take a cocktail and a dish and you are done. 
They were showing football game on Tv. For group of friends to watch the game with a drink is good option. The air conditioning was too cold for me to bear. So the things they can work on, are music and maintaining temperature. Clients generally leave if they find the place too cold or too hot.

Talking about food, the sitcom theme has been extended to the dishes on the menu too.
To start with, we had Parmesan veg Galauti roll. It is priced at Rs. 305/-. You can have it with drink and stay all night. An entrée, that is very cheap.

I also ordered Khao Sui veg. It was not bad but I have had better kaho suis. Their vegetarian soup is priced at Rs.185/- and non-veg is for Rs.225/- I liked the fact that it is not too hot and spicy for my taste.

My friend had non vegetarian, Murgh malai pita pocket. It is priced at Rs. 375/-. It comes with hummus and lots of onions. It was good. Pita had full crisp black peppers that came in mouth as you took a bite. My friend did not like that. 

 We also ordered Greek Salad. It is priced at Rs. 220/-. This was nothing special. It had too much onion, had less feta cheese. Greek salad is supposed to be more delicate. With so much onion, you cannot kiss after having this. :)

Their crockery and cutlery is very basic and nothing fancy. All in all, it is a place for very young people- very budget friendly. But it can still be made better.

My next dish was Vegetable Shashlik. It is priced at Rs. 325/-. I would highly recommend this. The portion sizes here are just apt for two people. They are neither too big not too small. In fact, I liked their portion sizes.

 Our next dish was mushroom and Zucchini Parmeziana & Toast. It is priced at Rs. 325/- It is a very good dish. It is a full meal for two. Someone who loves creamy sauce and combination of mushroom and zucchini, would love this. Different vegetables had their own character and flavours. You can spend the whole evening with one drink and this dish. This is one dish that made me say-Wow!

For our second round of drinks, we asked for Charlie Sheen’s Epic Margarita. It comes in Kiwi/peach/ strawberry. We opted for kiwi. It is priced at Rs. 350/-. Its base is tequila. It was too much ice and very strong.

I ordered a mocktail for myself. They have a different mocktail menu. My drink was called Cranberry Casino. It is priced at Rs. 175/-. It was too sweet for my taste. I think our first two cocktails were the best.

We also wanted to bring you a review for their fish. So we ordered Pan grilled fish. It is priced at Rs. 525/-. It was good. It was served with sweet caramelized onion based sauce with mayonnaise and mashed potatos.  It was nicely decorated but nothing that you say wow or fantastic. They serve too much onion in every dish, I think.

For desserts, we were told, they had only 3 options- Pista kulfi, mango kulfi and phirni. All priced at Rs. 155/- each. They all came very well presented. They were nice but not out of this world. I will say very good value for money.

They also have a smoker's zone or the terrace. I do not think many restaurants in Defence colony have a terrace. It is small and cute. It has the potential to be made better.

Location: 2nd Floor, 22, Main Market, Defence Colony, New Delhi.
Cost for two: ₹1,250 (approx.) with alcohol. It offers free home delivery, full bar, Wifi, Live sports screening, outdoor seating and terrace area.

My overall rating for the place is 4/5
There are few glitches like music, air conditioning, decor, crockery, etc. But it surely would be a big hit for the age group of 18-25 years.