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There’s a truck in this restaurant!

Despite being a smallish restaurant really, The Dhaba at the Claridges, Delhi, has always enjoyed immense popularity. Like Bukhara, the ITC brand, it has proved to be an evergreen concept, revolving around the simple theme of a highway eatery (or dhaba) and dishing out such staples as balti meat (which arrives on your tables in mini brass buckets) and tandoori items in a quaint setting, reminiscent of far humbler pleasures than dining out in a pricey five-star involve.

Over the decades, the restaurant has attracted fair traffic from amongst the high and mighty of Delhi society and if old timers recall Indira Gandhi’s fondness for the bitter chocolate cake from the Claridges pastry shop, it is with equal certainty that they brandy about the names of the younger Gandhis—Rahul and Priyanka—as being quite fond of the food at Dhaba. Yet, if you compare it to the turn that Indian menus in our metros have been taking of late, the Dhaba menu at the New Delhi hotel is quite surprising: For one it sticks to a handful of its trademark dishes and expects its loyal clientel to turn up again and yet again for more of the same. The menu has hardly been tampered with during the considerable length of the restaurant’s existence.

But it is perhaps because of the steadfast quality of what they turn out from their kitchens or perhaps because the earthy, Punjabi appeal of its ambience that the restaurant continues to be a winner. In fact, in hotel circles, it is often looked up to as credible competition to the mighty Bukhara itself— something not many Indian restaurants can boast of. While the New Delhi Dhaba remains the same, its loyalists have something new to lok forward to this season: A new, bigger, more lavish Dhaba at the Claridges’ sister property in Surajkund, which has positioned itself firmly as a business-resort. Just under a year old, the Surajkund hotel is charming with some of the biggest and most impressive room sizes available in the NCR.

With a spa and an inviting infinity pool overlooking a portion of the Delhi ridge, it certainly has the makings of a resort where you can spend a quiet weekend with your family while being just 20 minutes away from the city! On the other hand, it is entirely possible to finish off a busy working day by driving down to the hotel for dinner. And we would certainly recommend that you check out the new Dhaba at Surajkund. Enter the restaurant and you realize at once that far from conforming to the modern minimalist diktats of design, this is a restaurant that has gone all kitsch. The dhaba theme has been expanded — this, after all, being a much bigger restaurant than the one in New Delhi. Instead of the crammed interiors of the original, this one has enough space between tables to make for a private experience (even in the midst of children running around and having their fun), for a (rustic) lounge like seating area should you be waiting for your table and indeed for an entire truck!

The truck in question is a specially fabricated feature at the entrance hiding the entrance to the washrooms—as it would in a real highway dhaba no doubt. There is a small “washing area” with a tap and earthen pots just next to it once again simulating a real dhaba experience before you enter the dining space filled with quaint bric-a-brac, Bollywood posters, menu cards designed like license plate numbers, earthen jugs and so on. You don’t need to be a foreigner (or entertaining one) to enjoy this slice of India. Most of the old Dhaba specials remain though the menu has been expanded too with many fresh additions. But all in all, this is a space where you don’t really go looking for novelty or dressed-up Indian food. Instead, like its theme suggests, this is a restaurant that you will visit for your comfort food—dal makhani and naan, even if you choose to pair these with a glass of wine or a single malt. In fact, many people now are experimenting with accompanying India's traditional spicy foods with particular wines. There are some outstanding white wines that could be served slightly chilled and which can enhance your meal. You could be supporting India's nascent wine industry too so there is really nothing stopping you. Sitting in an a-c environ of a luxury hotel, enjoying the robustness of a rustic meal in customized crockery: Really, what can be better?

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One Response to “There’s a truck in this restaurant!”

  1. ashish rana says:

    i want to be a chef executive after i complete my bhmct course from arni university,kangra from ashish rana ahbh0001/10