Review: Dhaba by Claridges, Saket, Delhi (North Indian Cuisine)
303-05, 2nd Floor, DLF Place, Saket, New Delhi. Ph# +91-11-41750555
Dhaba, theka, maa ka aashirvad , goods carrier and the colourful old truck, all of that to create an imagery of our modest highway Dhaba and leave the palate salivating for some hearty food as you stand facing this new restaurant at DLF place Saket. ‘Dhaba’ by Claridges, could this be the end of our hunt for the archetypical highway dhabas right here in the heart of urban Delhi, and we stepped in to find out.
The Claridges is all set to recreate the magic with their third ‘Dhaba’ in Delhi, while the other two at Aurangzeb road and Surajkund are estabilished with their marks already.
The rudiments of the highway dhabas have been infused with contemporary colours and designs to create the chic and funky interiors at the Dhaba by Claridges. The rustic mud walls and the jute-woven seating are however replaced by contemporary, quirky designs, perhaps for its modern and young diner that’s expected to be frequenting the shopping mall. An imposing ‘Nalka’ chandelier, the old bronze Gramophone, frames of the quirky quotes from behind our trucks, old movie posters, and an entire truck converted into a private dining area, together expands the rustic, earthy charm into a stylish modern avatar.
Latest bollywood numbers playing loud along with the clutter of utensils from across the open service station, loud voices and a horde of celebratory crowd further add to create a typical noisy Dhaba environment . While the noise may bothered me initially but it soon faded away, as the waiters and the manger lined up and danced to the tune of ‘Badtameez Dil’, we soon gave in to the mood and dropped all the sophisticated poise to blend in the clamour.
The service definitely needs to step up. Whether they were too busy entertaining us with the dance or it was the general noise of the place but one cannot overlook the fact that the attendants were not attentive. Well, the fact that we were accommodated without any wait on arrival without reservation was awesome, but that’s where the service story ends. Every time we had to keep looking around to get the attention of the waiters and request for our orders to be taken between courses ourselves. This general negligence is not something one expects from a Claridges’ and I hope they soon do something to fix it, is the manager listening or the music is still too loud??
The menu has a funky design too and it is divided into three sections, ‘tava’, ‘tandoor’ and ‘patiala’ and there is a ‘theka’ menu too which of course is the drinks menu, no prizes for guessing that one. Rustic dishes find their way into the menu quite aptly; Amritsari fish, galoutis, tawa chaap, dhaba paneer tikka, bhune aloo, dhaba daal, highway chicken chilli or balti mutton and even small bites like keema pao or bun omelette are just a few inclusions to the menu intricately crafted by the Chef Ravi Saxena himself.
We, a group of carnivore three, ordered an Amritsari Fish and Dhaba Murg Roast paired with a glass of ruhani (plain) and Aamsutra (mango) lassi and a kala khatta to flag off our feast. The fish was delicious and so were the perfectly roasted chicken, spicy and crispy juicy meat, and we were transported to some modest dhaba in Punjab in no time. The drinks were good enough as well, specially the kala khatta was a reminder of an old forgotten flavour.
The recommended Balti meat and tawa chicken along with butter roties and garlic naan made our main course. The signature Balti meat was as delicious, succulent and spicy as it promised to be. The tawa chicken however was not really great, the gravy of onion tomatoes was slightly under flavoured but the breads were certainly at par with any famous Dhaba, fresh, soft and cooked to perfection.
With all that food already down our belly we really had no room for a dessert but still we braved into a serve of the classic ‘Rabri’ to be share between three of us. Well the rabri was good enough not denying that but it lacked the rustic, earthy flavour of real dhaba rabri made with thick buffalo milk, but so much for a Dhaba in the heart of a City. Anyhow just before calling for our bill our eyes got suck at the ‘Masala/Cutting Chai’ on the menu and we couldn’t help but wind up our dinner in the true Dhaba style with a cuppa cutting chai. And oh boy ! What an end to the dinner it was, my hunt for a great cutting Chai finally ended here and you can find me sitting and sipping on that cutting chai all through the winters if you happen to cross by this Dhaba by Claridges.
It’s perhaps our best bet to relish the rustic, hearty Dhaba style food in Delhi and hence a must visit. The prices that you’d end up paying however is far from what you’d pay at any Dhaba in the country though, our bill stood at an exorbitant Rs 4648 for the above order (including taxes for three of us, no drinks). Go there for the sake of the experience (hopefully services would better soon), the hearty dhaba classic food and bright mood lifting interiors, or just for a cup of that cutting Chai but that is if you do not mind paying straight 95 bucks for a cuppa glass of that chai.