Blurb: Modern interiors and peg and leg to your heart’s content
Atmospherics: Right opposite the Deer Park in Safdarjung Enclave, the temperature drops a couple of degrees. The little market, for long, a strictly neighbourhood joint, has metamorphosed into a restaurant hub, Charcoal being the only Indian option. It has contemporary, no-fuss interiors, seats 24 and has adequate service. Being on the ground floor, it is mighty popular. The recently arrived alcohol licence, combined with the cold weather is literally like a gift from the gods, being the two requisites to enjoy a great kebab. Charcoal is run like a tight ship: when one or the other dish is over, it is taken off the menu. Vexing yes, but on the other, it is a remarkable restaurant that insists on freshness every day.
Table talk: Whatever you have or don’t have, do not miss the Charcoal murgh (Rs 395), one of the finest chicken preparations in our city. Four succulent pieces of chicken marinated with deghi mirch and a subtle melange of spices where none dominate, are left in the tandoor long enough to cook completely, yet not lose their inherent juiciness. It is worth making the trip to Charcoal for this one dish alone. Other worthies from the tandoor section include mutton burrah (Rs 495), Charcoal nimbu mutton (Rs 525) and mutton seekh (Rs 425). The nimbu mutton is a take on a home-style dish and is recommended if you like the fresh, sour taste of lime juice. Surprisingly for a restaurant that takes its meat so seriously, the Charcoal tandoori broccoli (Rs 375) is worth a try, even for meat-eaters. Tender, yet with a bite left it, the spicing has been left to a minimum, leaving only the khoya and the broccoli as the top notes. You have the option of ordering a platter from the tandoori section, containing two, three or four items (Rs 645-795). The rest of the menu: salads, sandwiches, pizzas are to attract a wider audience, but don’t have the star attraction of the tandoori section. The main course lal maas (Rs 495) had a too sharp flavour of clove powder but not the signature fragrance of Mathania chillies. The butter murgh (Rs 445) drowned in cream rather than tomatoes and shredded, boneless chicken hardly passes muster!
Must try: Tandoori aloo, grilled mushroom and asparagus, grilled baby chicken.
Food, service, décor: 3, 3, 3.
B 6/5, DDA Market, Safdarjung Enclave,
Tel: 41098800, 9711144456
Open from 12 noon to 1 am
Credit cards, alcohol
Meal for two: Rs 2,000