No sooner than Chez Nini opened its doors, in another part of South Delhi is Rara Avis, with three partners, two of them French. Simple, fuss-free food without pretentious flourishes.
Atmospherics: The second floor restaurant is approached by a typically Parisian lift with two grill doors that have to be opened and closed manually and that accommodates three! The restaurant is simple yet elegant in an understated way and the top floor terrace is another French touch. The French partners Laurent and Jerome have both worked in other Delhi restaurants before this and take orders and clear plates easily.
Table Talk: Chaud & Froid Ocean (Rs 440) consists of baby octopus, shrimps and squid all optimally steamed in salted water to give the impression of having come out of the ocean a brief while ago. Served over a bed of lettuce, it brings you the briny taste of coastal France in a burst of brilliance. The terrine de Jerome (Rs 380) is made from rabbit reared for the table by the French Farm. Coarse and liberally studded with coarsely pounded black pepper, it was the highlight of my meal. While there is plenty of chicken for die-hards, both Laurent and Jerome are pleasantly surprised to see how well the rabbit terrine does. Whole trout with almond butter sauce was cooked the classic way, without setting the Seine on fire.
Plus and minus: Sadly the French onion soup was wholly lacking in the soul-food quotient that one expects from a hearty, steaming soup that was made for butchers and fishmongers over a century ago, to keep themselves warm during market hours. Even the cheese and bread was not toasted and not served atop the soup as the Real McCoy used to be, but given on a separate plate. The mashed potato timbale that accompanies the main course is a complete travesty. France has exciting ways to cook the humble spud, including pommes dauphinois. Even wedges of roesti potatoes would be a more fitting alternative to rather stodgy mashed potatoes.
Do not miss: Leek Tart with green salad (vegetarian) (Rs 340), Potato and melted Reblochon kueche (vegetarian) (Rs 580), Scottish Salmon in Champagne sauce (Rs 980).
M 27, Greater Kailash II
Ph: 011- 41085544
Open from 12 noon to 12 midnight
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,000