Gracious old dowager in a new avatar
Atmospherics: It is scary how few historic restaurants our city has. Considering that Delhi has had a rich history for even the last hundred years, there is little to boast about in the way of grand old restaurants. Those that are above 50 years are shockingly few and as most of them have gone in for periodic refurbishments, little of their original grandeur remains. So, the Lambas of Kwality had their work made easier, though they took no short-cuts at all. The interiors have never been more luxe than they are now, with a superb piano bar at the back of the restaurant, visually different from the rest of the interiors. Tasteful, old-world chandeliers throw light on the black and white tiled floors, reportedly made from blocks of Italian marble as old as the restaurant, and the crockery is old English-style. No expense has been spared in the restoration, yet the whole does not look like a ritzy extravaganza, but like a home made of old money.
Table talk: The menu has been shortened but contains all the signatures. Chief of them is Kwality chana (Rs 375) with bhatura (Rs 90). This one dish is believed to be the finest in a city where every style of chana, from Pindi to Punjabi, can be found. As someone who has been eating at Kwality since the early ‘80s, I can testify that the recipe has been remarkably consistent. Other personal favourites on the menu include taar gosht (Rs 625) that has the trademark stickiness of marrow in the gravy. It requires several marrow bones to be slow-cooked to acquire the required texture, which means that painstaking arrangements have to be made for this one dish. Not surprisingly, no other restaurant has bothered to plagiarize this Kwality signature! The Continental menu contains items that have become grist to the Indian mill over time, including chicken a la Kiev (Rs 650), made in the classic way, with melting butter spurting out on the bed of rice. Each Continental preparation (belonging as they do to another age, you cannot call them ‘western’) takes 25 minutes to prepare, so you are encouraged to order a starter while you wait.
Plus and minus: The finest tea-time snack on any Delhi menu has to be cold coffee (Rs 150) and cheese balls (Rs 375)
Must try: sole meuniere, paneer cutlet, Kwality special pudding
Food: 4.00, Service: 4.00, Decor: 4.00
7, Regal Building, Connaught Place
Open from 12 noon to 1 am
Credit cards, alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 2,000