When we set out to list the 50 best restaurants in the country, our mandate was clear—eat as much as you humanly can, and be objective. But fifty restaurants? Please. We enlisted some help—probably the most qualified voices on the restaurant scene in India. A panel of dedicated foodies and restaurateurs. Listing their favourites and making recommendations are Marut Sikka, food consultant and owner of Magique; Anjan Chatterjee, who owns the Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta chains of restaurants; Ritu Dalmia, the owner and chef of Diva; Rahul Akerkar, Mr Indigo, now on the verge of his next project Tote, which we feature in our Appetite section; A.D. Singh, flamboyant restaurateur; Ajit Saldanha, a noted food critic; and not least, Jiggs Kalra, the owner of Punjab Grill.
Till the turn of the decade, the Indian palate had been quite conservative, barely venturing beyond Chinese. This past decade has seen an explosion of choices, and our list reflects just that. So from massive fine dining restaurants to humble holes in the wall, you will find them all here. Bon appetit!
1. Bukhara at ITC Maurya
Creating wonderful NWFP cuisine for over thirty years, Bukhara is everybody’s favourite all the world over.
Cuisine: NWFP Cuisine (North West Frontier Province)
Contact: (91) (011) 2611 4444
Meal For Two: Approximately Rs 3,000 plus taxes
Rahul Akerkar: Nothing else comes close and it has set the standards for every other restaurant serving Indian cuisine.
2. Varq at Taj Mahal Hotel
Grand Master Chef Hemant Oberoi’s baby, the 80-cover Varq is a combination of sophisticated dining, discreet service and exquisite interiors. Chef Hemant Oberoi reinvents Indian food with unusual creations and pairings, thus creating an exclusive gourmet dining experience.
Contact: (91) (011) 23026162
Meal For Two: Rs 5,000 for a three-course meal
Marut Sikka: The food is as good as it gets, the décor is impressive, though a tad Western, and the service is fantastic.
3. China Kitchen at Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Regency’s China Kitchen is famous for dishing out a range of Chinese delectables like Peking Duck and Beggar’s Chicken.
Contact: (91) (011) 66771334
Meal For Two: Rs 2,500
Jiggs Kalra: The open kitchen is not only a joy to behold, but it is worth dining at this eatery just for the Peking Duck.
4. Sakura at The Metropolitan
Among the most expensive restaurants in town, Sakura at The Metropolitan, remains unrivalled for its authentic, expertly executed Japanese fare.
Contact: (91) (011) 42500200
Meal For Two: Rs 5,000
Marut Sikka: There’s only one word for it. Outstanding. Has to be one of the more consistent food places.