Lucknavi with fairly grand, all-mirror interiors.
Atmospherics: Hyatt Regency Gurgaon is brand new. It is situated almost at the toll plaza that enters Gurgaon from Manesar, so that, while it is dauntingly far from Delhi, it is still a good proposition for residents of Gurgaon. The hotel is situated close to the industrial area of Manesar. Lavana (the Sanskrit word for salt) does not have natural light, but that is not apparent during dinner-time. At lunch it is a bit of a disadvantage. The staff is well-trained and knows the menu well. At the moment, it is the only full-service restaurant in the hotel, but that is soon set to change. Do be aware that there is only one member of the kitchen staff from Lucknow. All the rest have been trained in the cuisine and the difference does show.
Table talk: The shami kebab (Rs 750) is the finest in the NCR. The meat is cooked and then stone-ground, so the texture is text book perfection. Though shamis are thought to have originated in Lucknow, they are not spiced like galauti kebabs. The ones in Lavana are as simply spiced, the texture as satisfying and the cooking – slow heating on a tawa with ghee, as any housewife in Lucknow would make them. When they do make their appearance in NCR restaurants, they are called ‘shammi’ kebabs and are deep fried. There are galouti kebabs (Rs 750) in Lavana too, but the shami kebabs outshine them by a wide margin. The other outstanding item on this menu includes keema kaleji (Rs 700). Again, a dish that has not been done to death on NCR menus. The real gems here are those breads that have to be baked in an iron tandoor. Sheermal (Rs 225) and gilafi kulcha (Rs 225) are unmissable treats. Rare enough because of the artistry required to make them – in the kitchen world, it is far easier to get a regular tandoori cook but far more difficult to obtain one who specializes in the iron tandoor that demands great precision. The diminutive ‘iron man’ could well be the brand ambassador of Lavana.
Plus and minus: Upselling is the name of the game here. We were coerced into ordering dal Gomti (Rs 450) but this curious concoction ruined our meal.
Must try: Lucknow ghosht biryani, sheermal, shami kebabs
Food: 3.00. Service: 3.50. Décor: 3.00
Tel: (+91) 124 6181170, (+91) 124 6181234
Hyatt Regency, 2nd Floor, National Highway No. 8, Sector 83, Gurgaon,
Open from: 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm
Meal for two: Rs 4,000