Well-known chef, Michael Swamy blazes a new trail
Serving: South American
Atmospherics: At the heart of any restaurant is the menu, and at the heart of every menu is the novelty factor. Make it too exotic and you’ve lost the popular vote; keep it dumbed down and the cognoscenti stays away. Michael Swamy’s greatest achievement in setting up Delhi’s first South American eatery is to accurately estimate the esoteric-factor in which to present Nueva. It is a cuisine that is new to this city, but elements like ceviche and Portuguese touches which are familiar to us because of Goa, places the cuisine in context, though some combinations may be new. The large restaurant filled with natural light is a text-book case of beauty and comfort in the classic mould, with five star service, a children’s menu featuring, among other things, ‘slippery pasta’ and the right note between formal and stuffy. It is not every chef who can become a consummate restaurateur, but Chef Swamy has managed that feat. Incidentally, he is in the restaurant every day.
Table talk: Start your meal with chili lime shrimp (Rs 495), which, for five generous-sized shrimp on a bed of sweet corn, represents excellent value for money. The earthiness of the corn is an unexpectedly magical foil to the fresh shrimp with just the optimal amount of chilli and lime juice: two reasonably common ingredients that pair brilliantly. Duck ham with cheese and figs (Rs 575) was another offering on the tapas menu that was an off-beat pairing, not least because of the thick chunks of duck ham that was pleasantly gamey, yet not off-puttingly so. Scallop and heirloom tomato ceviche (Rs 775) was one of three varieties of ceviche. Though the scallop had been ‘cooked’ in the lime juice to perfection, the lime had imparted a bitter aftertaste to the dish. Butter poached cod (Rs 1695) combined beautifully with optimally steamed Swiss chard and spaghetti that had turned golden with the butter. If you want to treat your tastebuds, here’s what to order!
Plus and minus: The naturally gracious service, the attention to minute details like the piped rosettes of saffron-flavoured butter and a butter knife – though it is fresh and far from old-fashioned, it is a rare restaurant today that incorporates these touches. I did miss the unbelievable array of South American chillies, though.
Must try: tea-infused chicken; pork belly with vindaloo glaze; quinoa pudding two ways
Food: 3.50, Service: 3.50, Décor: 3.50
1st floor, Sangam Courtyard, Major Somnath Marg, RK Puram,
Tel: 9266668382; 011-65568382
Open from 12.39 to 3.30 and 7.30 to 11.30 pm
Alcohol licence expected shortly; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,000