Food & Drink Magazine

Chez Nini, Delhi: A Welcome Change

By Indian Food Freak @IFoodFreak

[Rated:4.0/5]

DSC_0024It was an invite by a friend to join him for lunch at Chez Nini; A European restaurant about which I have read and heard some mixed opinions. Not to be bogged down with anyone else’s notion and anyway looking out for places to eat out while my wife was away at my in-laws, I immediately accepted. What I didn’t know was that I will be witnessing the future of Indian restaurant industry.

ChezNiniAway from the malls and the crowded Delhi market where parking can as much be a pain than traveling in a local DTC bus, the small but now happening Meharchand market comes as a much needed relief. The small 35-seater restaurant has minimal decor but a huge artificial tree coming from the corner and covering almost the entire ceiling caught my attention. Later, the beautiful trained chef-cum-owner Nira Singh told me about her dream of having a house which has a tree inside. Chez means ‘at’ in French while Nini is her pet name, meaning ‘at Nini’s house’. Things were quickly falling in place.

Nira Singh Chez NiniI was amongst the first one to reach, and Nira quickly came out from behind the kitchen to greet me, like I saw her greeting most guests. A welcome drink made with rose and soda was nice, and I could taste the real petals which was very soothing in peak Delhi summers.

CroquetsWe were six of us soon and my friend, Avininder, mentioned that we are the select few who have been invited to do a tasting of some of the new dishes introduced at the restaurant. I knew it meant tasting lots of dishes but in small portions.  Starting with Croquets served with house spiced ketchup and creamy herbed emulsion – Zucchini Gouda, Arancini (fried rice balls), and salted fish, I knew we were in good hands. Arancini was just the right size and was filled with south Indian maata rice instead of regular Arborio rice. Maata rice is starchier than Arborio and absorbs much more liquid. My favorite amongst croquets was Zucchini –Gouda croquets with soft cheesy inside and crisp pastry.

green Gazpacho and beetroot saladNext was green Gazpacho and Beetroot salad. The gazpacho had a lovely bite of sweet corn,  I would have liked it served chilled. The salad was fabulous with smoky flavours of feta delicately tingling the taste buds, with the crunch from dill and sesame cracker giving it more flavours.

bacon wrapped datesHow wrong can one go with bacon wrapped dates? Here, she did not. The crisp bacon over sweet dates served with kasundi mayonnaise and tempura-like fried okra was creating harmony of flavours. Nira seems to be enjoying teasing us with just one piece of each and we fell to her game and kept craving and looking forward to what’s next.

DSC_0067We asked her to take a little break and sit with us. All this time she was working like a super-woman. I could either see her behind the kitchen, taking orders, picking utensils, instructing her team, welcoming guests, talking to them over feedback and exchanging smiles. Perhaps, this would explain my opening statement of future of Indian hospitality. Come on, I have not seen owners picking up used utensils, or delivering dishes to customers. I am sure her pedigree of being born, brought up and studied in Montreal has lots to do with her temperament but then it is not a mean task to run such successful restaurant for a lady who is an alien to Indian culture and still learning to deal with the system.

If more of such owner-run restaurants set up shop in India, we are not far from getting a Michelin star. While cash rich people continue to employ talented staff who keep switching jobs for greener pastures, it is difficult to get sustained quality and of course the seal of quality.

DSC_0068Next was smoked mackerel rillettes (almost like pate) served with in-house multigrain bread. We poured a little bit of olive oil which further accentuated the flavours from an otherwise fish which has a dry texture. By then I had shifted to beer from wine. I must mention that for a fine-dine restaurant, the alcohol prices are very competitive. Rs200 for a pint of Carlsberg beer and a glass of wine starting at Rs 450 per glass is extremely competitive.

Pork bellyI have never been fond of Risotto, so while others enjoyed it I kept it on the side after eating shredded pumpkin which was on the top. Pork belly had a glazed crackling on top while inside was all meaty and soft, and if I had not eaten anything else, would have finished my entire meal on beautifully cooked Coq au Vin which was topped with carrot puree. The fresh market fish (Red Snapper) served on quinoa pilaf was flaky and perfect!

Fruit GazpachoFinally, everyone was happily tummy-filled with the meal. We ate a spoon each of varieties of desserts – Fruit Gazpacho, Carrot Cake, Banoffee pie with sour cream ice cream and Sticky Coffee Pudding. I had fruit Gazpacho for the first time, but do not miss on this interesting dessert whenever you happen to visit.

The services, undoubtedly was efficient but wish the soiled plates were also changed on their own. Just like green gazpacho, wine was also served at a temperature which was tad higher than apt. Having said that, most restaurants fail to deliver when working on their full capacity, while Chez Nini in comparison was managing the show relatively very well.

Chez Nini is a welcome scene to Delhi’s culinary scene. I was told by someone about the new French Pizza and beautiful duck burger it serves. After this eat-a-thon, these items will be certainly on my menu next time.

Ratings out of 5

Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 4.0 | Service: 4.5 |Overall: 4.0

Meal for Two: Rs 2500 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 12 Noon – 11.30PM

Address: Chez Nini, 79 Meharchand Market, New Delhi | Telephone: 011-49050665/ 49050666

The tree
The tree
All of us
All of us
Nira Singh with her staff
Nira Singh with her staff

banoffe pie
banoffe pie
Chocolate
Chocolate
Carrot cake
Carrot cake

Fruit Gazpacho
Fruit Gazpacho
Red Snapper Fish
Red Snapper Fish
Coq au vin
Coq au vin

Pork belly
Pork belly
Risotto
Risotto
Smoked salmon Pate
Smoked salmon Pate

Yes it's US
Yes it’s US
Nira Singh - Isn't she beautiful?
Nira Singh – Isn’t she beautiful?
blue cheese pear tart
blue cheese pear tart

bacon wrapped dates
bacon wrapped dates
Green Gazpacho with beet root salad
Green Gazpacho with beet root salad
Croquets
Croquets

The nest
The nest
Caramalised Onion - Focassia
Caramalised Onion – Focassia
Rose soda- welcome drink
Rose soda- welcome drink



You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
    LIFESTYLE
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
    ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
    ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIES
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
    DIARIES, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener
    GARDENING, HOME

Magazines