July 14, 2014
Tapas and Sangria at Lodi – The Garden Restaurant
By Akshita Singh and Somya Kukreti
Renowned for zealously celebrating the idea of festivity in food, Lodi – The Garden Restaurant has come up with an exciting, ingenious series of food festivals and it was an utter delight to be a part of it. The Tapas and Sangria is an ongoing, month-long food festival with a fascinating fusion of two of Spain’s most sought after delicacies. In this sweltering Delhi summer, Tapas – a whole lot of Spanish appetizers and Sangria – a plethora of fruity Spanish and Portuguese wines, is just the right sort of invigorating and experimental meal that you need to fight the relentless heat and the rising humidity.
Diversity in everything – the snacks, drinks and desserts – dominated the pleasurable evening. The “welcome drink” – basil crush mixed with lemon, water and sugar – was thoroughly rejuvenating. What’s more, they have a different and welcoming thirst quencher every time you go. The servers then presented a slew of Sangrias and mocktails that we swigged and savoured till the very end. The various colours, and the cubes of kiwis, mangos etc helped differentiate oneSangria from the other and were such an interesting sight to look at.
The Kiwi Rosemary Sangria, a white wine-based mixture of fresh kiwi, Chardonnay, Cointreau, cranberry and apple juices with a sprig of rosemary for garnish. The garnish of the rosemary sprig and kiwi squares at the bottom of the glass really pulled the cocktail together in its taste and presentation. The dominating taste was of the white wine which was cut across at the very end with the acidity of the apple juice.
The Lodi Special Sangria is a cocktail of flavours including red wine and several fruits like pineapple, apple, apricot, lime, and cranberry and orange juices. The flavours were really intense and true to what a perfect sangria should taste like.
The Mountain Apple and Kiwi Sour was the quintessential mocktail, fitting in excellently with the fruitiness in the drinks that was ruling the afternoon. This thoroughly revitalizing drink had a lasting and pleasing pungency to it, whichif wanted, could be negated by the salt spread across the rim. It had the right amount of ice crystals which could be felt in your mouth till the very last gulp. Of the various bites and beverages, this stood out for its immaculate presentation. It was fascinating to watch the green glacier of apple, kiwi and ice crush raised at the centre, and three thin apple slices at one corner struggling to stay afloat.
The appetizers were exotic in every way – from their peculiar names to the novel dishes. We first tried the Setas in Vinegar. Oh yes, the names truly are peculiar so it’s always best to read the brief explanatory notes right below them. Anyway, Setas are nothing but mushrooms with a definite Spanish twist to them. They didn’t have an inherent sourness that was expected but were garnished with vinegar leaves. Perhaps the “Sherry”, a gourmet wine, included in this dish, assuaged the sourness. Either way, the mushrooms tasted fantastic.
Then came the Benderillas, which took the unfamiliarity in the names a notch higher with terms like pimentos and gherkins in the skewer. Ironically, the flavor was closer home with a generous layering of pickle all through the jalapenos, pimentos and gherkins.
Baby potatoes or patatas, layered with garlic or alioli mayonnaise was yet another luscious vegetarian snack under Tapas. The patatasalioli had a nice, light flavour and doubled as a palate cleanser whenever one had a bite.
It was a nice gesture by Mr. Virender Singh Negi, General Manager, to cater to the vegetarian reviewers irrespective of whether some salads and snacks were a part of Tapas and Sangria or not. Pita bread with three thick sauces – hummus, lemon and mint tzatziki, and the Greek salad were delicious treats, not a part of Tapas.
For the non-vegetarian food lover, there was the Gambas al Ajillo, which was pan fried shrimp in extra virgin olive oil and garlic. The moment it was brought to the table it completely dominated the aroma. You could smell the delicious shrimp which really whet everyone’s appetite. The presentation was remarkable as well. Having had shrimp for the first time, there were no expectations and so, it was a completely new experience for our taste-buds and we would not hesitate to try it again.
There was also the Pollo al Pimenton, which was grilled chicken marinated with sweet paprika and chives. The chicken was crispy on the outside and soft and moist from the inside. The flavour was different from the usual grilled chicken that we have here. The mix of sweet paprika and chives was a novel flavour and was light in taste but big on flavour.
AnotherTapas was the Tortilla Espanola which is a traditional Spanish potato, red onion and leek omelette. The presentation of the omelette was really its best feature and everything went downhill from there. The omelette was well cooked but it was quite bland and the only thing you could taste wasthe flavourless onions and leeks.
The delectability of the food graduated with the finger-licking desserts. The Apple Almond Pudding topped with fig ice cream was inviting in itself and you couldn’t help but crave for more when it was over. The warm pudding complemented the cold fig ice cream excellently to create depth in the dessert. The warm toffee atop the dessert was delicious as well and completed the dish.
The eggless chocolate truffle cake failed to impress as the chocolate was neither sweet nor bitter. It left the meal feeling incomplete. The Banoffee pie, with waves of cream on the top, banana under it and toffee at the centre, was the sweetest of all. The cream was extremely light and went amazingly with the denser components of the dessert. The chocolate mousse on its own felt incomplete and would’ve paired well with something else. It was delectable in its own way but the pie and the pudding that it was competing with, were much more delightful.
Lodi – The Garden Restaurant is reputed for its “organic” ambience, with sundry trees like papdi and peepal enshrouding the main segment of the restaurant: the garden. The cool breeze and eclectic seating works well with visitors, even when the sun glares right down at you. Then there’s the second, semi-enclosed segment which gives the best of both worlds – a cooler inside and fresh air, outside – and the white curtains blend just well with the surroundings. We sat in the third, the fully enclosed segment from which, through sheer glass we could see the garden while still securing ourselves from the heat. It has a glass ceiling reflecting all of us enthused gourmands. There’s a huge European cuckoo clock and a counter, selling assorted organic pickles, jams etc.
Executive Chef Elam Singh Rana has yet again pulled through with all his innovative recipes and it was gratifying to meet him intermittently, through the course of the meal. The prompt and efficient service by very dedicated, well-informed stewards keen to share their knowledge of all drinks and dishes with us was very heart-warming. RushaliKhandelwal, Assistant Manager – Marketing, was kind to share lots of interesting information about the food, the forthcoming Monsoon Festival and about the organic farms – Sewara – that Lodi – The Garden Restaurant, is associated with. A bottle of Sewara Mango chutney gifted to us as souvenirs brought a wonderful end to a pleasant evening. It’s not often that you get to feast on such exquisite, appetizing and exhilarating a meal, so don’t let go of this fantastic feast. Honestly, if you miss a visit to the restaurant this July, then, unfortunately, you’ve ended up missing a lot.
Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.