Cuisine: Western, South Indian
Atmospherics: Have you ever laboured over a jigsaw puzzle for hours together, and still had a missing piece left over in spite of completing the picture? That’s how you’ll feel when you visit Amreli. It has reverted to Diplomat Hotel after being in the hands of Olive for years, so the entrance is now through the lobby of the hotel. The feel is rather like walking into a dining room, but perhaps that is the impression the hotel wants to convey. I was confounded by the dazzling brilliance of the interiors: reproductions of artworks line two walls, all framed in gilt. So paper place mats and paper napkins are at odds with the grandeur of the rest of it, from the very vibrant black and white flooring to the intentionally mis-matched yet exceedingly comfortable seating. The courtyard has been paved over, yet it is still a pleasant place to sit in.
Table Talk: It is fitting, in the scheme of things, that Amreli has a generous selection of breakfast options. What is not so obvious is why the rest of the menu veers off towards South India so determinedly. However, let’s not mince words: the sole meen moilee (Rs 695), egg appam (Rs 225) and Chettinad chicken (Rs 625) are spot on authentic, in a way you don’t often see in Delhi. Except for the fact that the moilee uses canned Thai coconut milk that comes with its own flavour profile, it was as good as anything you would get in coastal Central Kerala. Chettinad chicken has to use a quite a few spices, including ones that are seldom heard of. The Amreli kitchen, I am happy to say, was on top of the game. Even our starter of crispy pyaz pakodas (Rs 275) was an outrageously quirky touch in tony Chanakyapuri, and the kadhi mayo that is served along with it could have been made in a toddy shop in Kottayam. Curiously, the mayo makes its appearance in a tiny aluminium pot, but nothing else in Amreli is even vaguely inversely snobbish, so that is yet another part of the jigsaw puzzle that is not going to be solved any time soon.
Plus and minus: The ample parking, the convenient location in what must rank as Delhi’s finest address juxtaposed with the down to earth pricing and the off-mealtime menu are advantages. The seeming lack of focus is disappointing.
Ratings: Food 3.50; Service: 3; Décor: 3
Must try: Egg appam, bean poriyal, death by chocolate
9, Sardar Patel Marg, Chanakyapuri
Open from 8 am to 11.30 pm
Alcohol, credit cards
Meal for two: Rs 3,000