Almost as good as your own dining room
Formerly the Aman, the hotel has reverted to being the Lodhi. Elan is the dining room for Indian and western comfort food. For elegant dining there’s On the Waterfront near the entrance gate. The mood is cosy more than imposing – the diametric opposite of On the Waterfront. You’ll get great tea-time snacks here, some a witty take on international favourites. Elan serves a bewildering array of pickles, chutneys and papads all gratis. Do sample the walnut chutney and the julienned papaya pickle. As a general rule, Elan operates like the dining hall of a small, intimate hotel. The staff will happily cook something out of the menu for you, just like in a hill-station family-run resort.
Table talk: Desi fish and chips (Rs 725) is, inspite of its rather high price, an extremely witty, tasty take on an international classic. Both the fish and the chips have been batter-fried in a chat-pat spice mix that works brilliantly. I would have loved to have tried the equally interesting desi cheese toast, but will leave it for next time. It’s a fair bet that few Indian restaurants in the capital would include the extremely homely tadka dahi (Rs225) on their menu, but you’ll find it here. It consists of dollops of hung curd, to which a light tempering of kadi patta leaves and mustard seeds have been added. Believed in many homes to be more suitable in the winter months than fresh curd, it is an extremely charming footnote to a meal.
There are many other good starters, dhunkar ghosht pasanda (Rs 675) being one. It really does have the pleasant smoky flavour that is implied in the name; and Byadagi Spiced Prawns really does have the distinctive flavour of the fiery red chillies from Byadagi in Karnataka near the Andhra Pradesh border. Lehsuni palak tadka with missi roti (Rs 675) is another unusual find on a restaurant menu, as are most of the vegetarian main courses. You wouldn’t think that a restaurant that would serve bhindi aamchur kurkuri and achari gajar matar would do such a good job of taar gosht (Rs 795) but the lamb shanks were melt in the mouth and the gravy silky, with Mughlai spices.
All desserts are nouvelle.
Plus and minus: The kitchen uses industrial quantities of spices for just about every dish on the menu.
Must have: Duck tawa masala; desi cassata; gatta kadhi.
3.00; 3.00; 3.00
The Lodhi, Lodi Road
Open 24 hours; alcohol served round the clock
Meal for two: Rs 4,000