A piece of the French colony in our midst
Atmospherics: On the main Aurobindo Road, down a little cul de sac, opposite the Hero Honda showroom, you step into another world: a spacious, two roomed place, where you’ll be transported to a world away from the snarling traffic of Delhi, into another, simpler age where owners used to manage their restaurants as a matter of course, and where the décor matched the promoter’s funds. If the seating is a little less than comfortable, it is because private equity funding has not played a part in Chateau de Pondichery. There was just one server and the young owning couple on the day of my visit and though the spacious restaurant was full, there was no let-up in service. Tableware is a charming mix of steel thalis, handmade pottery bowls and Corelle plates.
Table talk: The chef has been a well-known caterer and restaurateur for at least two decades. She was not in the restaurant on the evening of my visit. Many of the appetizers consist of crepes with a variety of fillings. Large and hearty, we chose curry beans, chilli and formage (sic) (Rs 380). Undercooked, under-seasoned rajma, a few green chillies and strands of what appeared to be processed cheese grated on top. The other crepes have regular French fillings, so I’d say they’d be a safer bet than our choice. The pouillabaise (Rs 295) is a classic adaptation of the French soup to the expat community who lived in Pondicherry a century ago. Here, it was a disappointingly watered down version of the real thing with large pieces of chicken, some torn to shreds, in a soup that had spent time in the microwave oven. Just a marginal tweaking of the recipe and much more care in chopping the chicken would have resulted in a very imaginative soup, so it was intriguing why so little care was taken. It was the same with athu kary dalcha (Rs 590) and kozhi kary vindail (Rs 540): both were served in a thali; the former with rice and the latter with Ceylon poratta. Both were sloppily presented, with the mutton badly chopped and the gravy profuse but watery with a too-generous use of triphal pepper.
Plus and minus: It is entirely possible that I ordered the wrong set of dishes.
Must try: roast chicken, croquet monsieur, sole meuniere.
Food: 2.75, Service: 3.25, Décor: 3.25
Ground floor, 84 Aurobindo Marg, Adchini.
Open from 1 pm to 11 pm
Credit cards, alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 1700