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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Lodhi, The Garden Restaurant: Review

Lodi-The Garden Restaurant
Lodhi Road, Opp. Mausam Bhavan,
 New Delhi, 110003
Price: dinner for two approx 2500 Indian rupees

 Any google search for the best restaurants of Delhi will invariably throw up Lodi-The Garden Restaurant( henceforth L-TGR) somewhere in the top ten. Which sort of  takes one to those blogs which entice with 'How to rank higher on Google in five minutes using....'  Don't get me wrong- L-TGR is nice, it's sweet, it tries hard, it scores on two important parameters but....

The hostess standing at the start of the cobbled pathway trills an eager  'good  evening' even as  we are helping the octogenarian in our party down the steps leading to the pathway with the result that most of us don't hear it and the lone person , me, who does can't look up and respond since the  octogenarian and I are in the process of  synchronized navigation of said steps. 

We go down a short winding path to the right of which is the garden area for outdoor dining. The lush green garden is very prettily done up  with hanging lamps, twinkling lights, water cans serving as fountains mounted on one side. It scores high on ambience but can really be used only for winter lunches and October- March evenings and so, since we in Delhi are in the middle of a muggy August, we toodle off  indoors.

We step inside to dimly lit interiors and a smiling maitre d'. Thankfully two steps take us to our table and so no one falls. The real test comes when the menus are placed before us. The aunt manfully  bells the cat and asks for some light. The waiter pauses in the act of pouring water and switches on his phone's torch light. The water jug stays poised mid air for a good ten minutes or so as the aunt goes through the entire menu  and then comes back to the first page to start the confabulations. We are almost decided when the uncle declares that no, paella is a must. Paella means dropping a dish and so hectic parleys resume.... All this while no one comes to rescue either the water jug or  the waiter. Could be two reasons for the same: given the dim interiors they couldn't see what was happening or the menu  reading by torch light was an all too familiar occurring.

  After the outdoor seating the second parameter on which L-TGR scores is food. The espresso martinis , for the octogenarian and the aunt, were pronounced absolutely delicious, as were the mojitos we opted for. The entree of  vegetarian mezze  ( falafel, cheese fatayer, hummus, babaganoush, tzatziki, tabouleh, pita and home made pickle) was easy on the eye and tasted good. The paella  was cooked just so, the grilled vegetables platter was amazing as was the quinoa. However, what stole the show was the dessert- almond  bread pudding on a bed of  warm toffee sauce with a topping of fig ice cream. Sinful!! Just what a good dessert is meant to be.

The cheque is called for. It comes after a while. In the meantime one is distracted by certain, ahem, loud noises come from  the next table. The guest is unhappy about an error in the billing-  In the meantime our cheque arrives. Aunt looks at it earnestly but it is clear that she needs some help.The mobile ,err torch, arrives. The plastic card is fished out but in the meantime the waiter has vanished. We make idle conversation for five minutes but no Johnny turns up. The octogenarian looks ready to blow a fuse and finally does. An apologetic face turns up finally.

You know what L-TGR reminds one of? The morning after. Everything is still, almost,  the same: the people, the setting.......but something is missing. Perhaps, the zing?


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Twelve Angry Jurors: Play Review

We saw the evening show of Twelve Angry Jurors, a RAGE production, at the Kamani Auditorium, Delhi. It was truly a wonderful experience from the time one entered the gates. We had been dreading the thought of standing in long queues to get the hard copy of our tickets. However,  there were no queues- instead there were  young, smiling faces guiding one through a razzmatazz of offers and giddy fun- spinning wheel,  a mounted fine dining menu , your very own clapboard photograph- all this set to some lovely piano music by  Kaizad Gherda . The well lit Kamani foyer had never looked more inviting and well appointed as it did that evening- with boarded posters of Aadyam’s Season II plays landscaping the walls.  Nice!! Aditya Birla group cultural foray with Aadyam is poised to be a winner.

Some years back I had sat spellbound through the Hollywood movie of the same name - and truth to tell went for the play all ready for a comme ci comme ça version. So here goes: the performances were scintillating, the dialogues thought provoking and fitting very well in the Indian context, the editing -tight, the props masterpieces each, Nadir Khan’s direction- smart, the actors- seasoned and composed, the pièce de résistance-Rajit Kapur’s oft shown backside.

The fact that decades back the jury system, in India, was buried does nothing to take away from the relevance of the play. Human emotions and reactions are woven deftly to create a tapestry of aggression, misconception, boredom, dissent, vindictiveness and escapism. One doesn’t know about the others in the audience but I could see a little of myself in all the 12 jurors.

 Special mention must be made of the clever use of the montage of three screens which alternatively showed the roofs of buildings (Mumbai courts?) scorching on a hot summer day and the interface between jurors in the overworked toilet of the jury room.

Any irritant in Eden’s Garden? A teeny weeny watery one: the three dozen trips to the water cooler by the dozen jurors. Please Nadir- do you remember the time in kindergarten when you got scolded on your second ‘water’ trip for distracting the class? Well, that is what we felt like doing- scolding you for distracting us in an otherwise perfectly riveting play.