I’m not new to Lodi – The Garden Restaurant. Past visits have included a dinner with friends; a Vir Das Alien Chutney concert evening; a few drop-ins with family; in fact, I treated my family out to dinner with my first ever salary here. My experiences have always been quite pleasurable.
So when I was approached on behalf of the Restaurant to try their new Monsoon Menu this past weekend, I was more than happy to consent.
Honestly, I don’t think the restaurant should need much of an introduction. It is located in one of the best parts of the city, overlooking one of my favourite spots in the city (Lodi gardens, people!), and it has, in my books at least, one of the best outdoor dining spaces this city has to offer.
As I think back, I’ve never really had the pleasure of Al Fresco dining here. Each time I visit it’s either too hot or too rainy. The one time I did go in pleasant climatic conditions, it was too full. This Sunday afternoon was no exception. All through Saturday, Delhi was quite comfortable with even a bit of a shower early evening, raising my hopes for the same to last through till Sunday. But, woe is me, this was not to be; and I found myself gazing longingly at the outdoor section: the canopies with their hanging lanterns, the comfortable couches with their colourful cushions, and the white marbled table tops with their contrastingly dark chairs. We were escorted along the pebbled, bamboo-lined walkway to the slightly less ambient but pleasing nevertheless, indoor section: of orange walls and subdued lighting.
I have honestly lost count of the number of times I have recommended this restaurant to people looking for a romantic venue. This has usually been keeping in mind the atmosphere pervading the gardens, but I just found another great spot, for those who are interested. The next time you are debating where to dine with your significant other on a special occasion, or on any occasion for that matter, go to the Lodi and ask for a table on the upstairs balcony. There are just a few tables here, and what you get is a peaceful green view of the surrounding Lodi Gardens. I would love to see how these would look at night, the balcony lit with lanterns and a candle lit on the table top. Do let me know, in case any of you do try.
Settling into a table on the first floor, we were welcomed with a shot glass of cool mineral water in a refreshing cranberry flavor. Since we were here to try the Monsoon Menu, we selected a cocktail each from this section to begin with; despite the extremely enticing Moroccan Merlot of a 2007 vintage that was recommended to us by our server. I’ll try that the next time I’m here. I reckon it would go quite well with the Moroccan Braised Lamb, my favourite dish by far at this restaurant. Our drinks arrived promptly, and were quite alright.
The Sunny Citrus Cooler was a concoction of Rowson Whiskey, with lemon juice and sugar syrup, fizzed up with soda. I liked this drink, despite not really having a taste for Whiskey. Unlike other cocktails with the same base, here the Whiskey did not take over the taste; it was the right mix of sweet and sour. The Miami was shaken and built up with lager, tequila and pineapple juice; and while it worked to refresh, it was a bit on the sweeter side, nothing that the melting ice didn’t cure, however.
A third option called Jack and Jill, is a Shandy of sorts, made of lager, peach syrup and coke.
They also have a few Mocktails, for those less inclined towards alcoholic beverages. The Tropicana mixes fresh pineapple with pineapple juice and coconut cream, blended with lemon; the Pythen is musk melon, khus and ginger, topped up with soda; and the aptly titled Monsoon consists of fruits chopped with mint leaves, served with green tea on top.
We started our meal with a soup of chicken, thyme and oyster mushroom – light, chunky, full of flavor. We also ordered the fresh lotus stem and water chestnut salad, which came with rainy greens, mint and lime vinaigrette. This sadly did not do anything for us. It definitely had a freshness to it, but the lotus stems lacked the crunch that would have taken it the extra mile, and we found the dressing a little too sour. The accompanying portion of garlic bread helped to temper this down.
If its sea-food you’re in the mood for, I hear the batter-fried King Prawn infused with lemongrass and chilies has been very well received.
Moving on to the main course, the Baked Crepes of home grown spinach and maize (corn) were the creamiest, tastiest crepes I have had in a very long time. Thin yet soft at the center, crisp at the edges, generously stuffed, and topped with Parmesan caper cream!
But the highlight of the meal was definitely the Green Tea smoked Duck, served with a tangy tamarind and plum puree, potatoes on the side. I’m partial to smoked meat myself, and for someone who eats Duck fairly regularly when he dines out, the husband was more than pleased.
We were too full for desert by now, but you could choose between honey-glazed peach served with Mango ice-cream; or Plum Sorbet.
The Monsoon Special at Lodi is on till the 31st of August, for those of you who would like to head on over. The menu has been crafted by their in-house chef Elam Rana, and the good food coupled with friendly service makes it worth a visit for sure. Please, please try the Duck and rave about it while you’re at it. Let’s hope we can have it imbibed in to their regular menu.
Here’s what my fellow blogger Mohana over at throughthelanes had to say about her experience.
So, where are you dining today?