Glasshouse effect

Prachi Bhuchar        Print Edition: August 7, 2011

It is a fine-dining space in the garb of a coffee shop. You could be forgiven for thinking that The Qube at The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, is just another five-star coffee shop with a snacky multi-cuisine menu. The restaurant is cube shaped with multiple glass facades, giving it a glasshouse effect.

The Qube Signature
The Qube Signature
The beaten metallic discs hanging from the ceiling are colour corrected by mood lighting by the hour, and one side of the restaurant overlooks a lotus pond lit up with traditional mashals. As expected of a five star, the staff is meticulous and eager to please. But service aside, the clear winner at this all-day dining space is the food. Chef Glen Eastman, an American export, oversees the busy kitchen as executive chef and has brought a great deal of finesse to a staggeringly large food menu. There's an equally extensive beverage menu with a thick one dedicated to wine lovers.

We recommend that you start your meal with the Maryland crab cakes. The pan seared cakes with rocket salad and chipotle aioli have a subtle, delicate flavour and you could be forgiven for forgetting you are feasting on crab at all. If vegetarian, try the goat's cheese and arugula salad instead. The combination of orange, firm walnuts and maple dressing gives this salad a zing and freshness that's recommended in summer. Dive into the Qube seafood grill of Scottish salmon, rock lobster, tiger prawns and a fennel salad as main course. This was, for me, the most impressive dish of the day. The fresh salmon steaks were seared to perfection and the tiger prawns, just the right mix of crunch and smokiness.

Tandoori Prawns
Tandoori Prawns
At The Qube, you can choose from a fine selection of pizzas, pastas, risottos, salads and grills in the Continental section. There is an equally lavish Thai and Indian section to choose from and vegetarians won't feel sidelined. The lou han zai or wok seared Asian vegetables can be eaten as a full meal with steamed rice. The sauce is textured and has clean flavours. The Nizami tarkari biryani which is an aromatic mix of fresh herbs and spices is authentic but a tad boring. The desserts at The Qube are its biggest selling point. Innovative, experimental and bold, the coconut and saffron pannacotta with raw papaya chutney, a hint of palm sugar caramel and a molten tamarind sorbet is a fantastic creation. The burst of sour in your mouth as you eat the sorbet is paired beautifully with the creaminess of the pannacotta. The less experimental can instead try The Qube signature dessert which is made of araguani chocolate and served with gianduja, yuzu curd, espresso anglaise and sesame lace. The combination of rich, dark chocolate and the slightly citrusy curd is a great way to seal the meal.

Not coffee house fare for sure, The Qube inspires you to return to sample something new from its extensive and exciting menu.

Meal for two:
Rs 3,000 plus taxes;
Timings: 6.30 am -1 am. The Qube,
The Leela Palace, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Tales from the Orient

Sublime and sexy, Hakkasan, takes its global avatar forward in Maximum City.


The plush interiors of Hakkasan, Mumbai
The plush interiors of Hakkasan, Mumbai
The secret to a successful franchise is consistency. Hakkasan, Mumbai, delivers all the shine of its Michelin Star, earned at its London branch. Hakkasan is undeniably chic, and the crowd it pulls lives up to that label.

The dim, blue lighting, cascading water effects, burnished wood accents, and deep chocolate leather banquettes create an oasis of exquisite calm that soothe the most jaded of jetsetters. Balancing Eastern flavours can be hard, and muddling and stirring them into a cocktail needs some Tom Cruisetype talent. Apparently, the barkeep at Hakkasan has got it down. Try the kumquat mojito, with astringent rum, the sweet of kumquats tumbled with lime and mint for firsthand evidence. The Hakkasan signature drink, the eponymously named Hakka, is practically a tongue-in-cheek tribute to how sumptuous the restaurant is.

Our roasted mango duck served with chilli dip and chilli sauce was so prettily plated and artistic, we hesitated to eat it.Fresh mango slices and tender, fatty roast duck look lovely together and taste even better. The standard is sustained through the mains. The king scallops and prawn cakes in Yakiniku barbeque sauce, generously portioned, were heavy. Chicken braised and paired with wild mushrooms in a clay pot is also a stunner. The roasted silver cod with champagne and Chinese honey was delightful. The stir-fry lotus root and asparagus in black pepper has that incredibly natural crunch from a wok heated just right.

Can we confess, we didn't have room for dessert? Though we have it on good authority that they're more than up to scratch.

Meal for two: Rs 5,000;
Timings: Daily 7pm-11:30pm;
Hakkasan, Krystal, second floor, 206, Waterfield Road, Bandra, Mumbai

-Anamika Butalia

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