The tiny, narrow staircase in the Outer Circle of Connaught Place, opposite Super Bazar, does not do justice to an interesting new restaurant cum club with a surprisingly high focus on food. The menu is a fresh look at the cuisines of the Mediterranean world, in which there’s conventional restaurant seating in one area, a large bar area in another and low lounge seating in another. Qash Qai is a spacious restaurant with its bar licence already in place.
Their Mezze Platter (Rs 599) is a huge, all-you-can-eat giant portion of tiny pita breads, kibbehs, lamb fatayer and shish taouk along with hummus, babaganoush, hung curd and Lebanese pickles. Though the dough for the fatayer was a trifle soggy and the pickles not as sour as they should be, I’d say that the platter is superb value for money, and unless you have the appetite of a giant, you will not need to order anything more.
If it’s quality you’re after, look no further than the Mediterranean Seafood Broth (Rs 149) with a generous amount of seafood lurking in its depths. However, it is in the non-vegetarian main course selection where Qash Qai really comes into its own. Sayadieh Bi Samak (Rs 349) is an outstanding meal-in-a-plate that consists of lightly fried fish with a serving of salad and the most flavourful rice that it has been my privilege to eat. It has everything that Delhiites look for: familiar ingredients, a touch of exotica and down-to-earth pricing.
The Wine Marinated Prawns is also a steal for prawn lovers – Rs 399 for five prawns with grilled zucchini and other premium vegetables as well as mashed potato. The dish didn’t do anything for me: the wine was only in name alas. The management of the restaurant is probably trying to win customers by competitive pricing initially, because the prices here are unbelievably low for the quality they deliver.
Rosemary Roast Chicken (Rs 299) did have wine in the rich sauce. The rosemary flavour was kept subtle and the Lyonnaise potatoes had just a hint of parsley in them. If you want gourmet dining on a budget, you know what to order.
However, my favourite dish is the Arabic Lamb Stew with Vermicelli Rice (Rs 299). Redolent with spices, it is a stew in the Asian style. What sets it apart from an Indian curry is that in spite of having the same spices – the fragrance is unmistakable – you get distinct notes of each individual spice. The rice with vermicelli in it is a novelty.
Among the desserts, I liked the Mahalabia (Rs 149) the best; the three-layer Rich Chocolate Mousse (Rs 149) had no dark chocolate in it, despite the description on the menu.
M 90 First Floor, Opp. Shankar Market, Outer Circle, Connaught Place
Open from 11 am to 11 pm
Average cost of a meal for two: Rs 800
Credit cards accepted; alcohol served