Magical Med at Amuse House
Indians love their fritters. Whether they are sliced onions dunked in gram flour paste and deep fried in mustard oil, wedged potatoes rubbed with cornflour and dropped in gurgling hot oil or plump peppers stuffed with masala and fried till the sharpness of the chillies are somewhat compromised. There have been innumerable occasions when, on a rain-washed evening, I’ve had requests from my Mister to quickly fry up some chilly pakodas to go with puffed rice. We have eaten the green peppers in hot and spicy pickles as well. But the avatar I tasted of the vegetable at Amuse House was something that propelled to call it a stand out dish. And lo! It wasn’t even a main course item. But the nuanced flavour, the texture and the presentation sent my taste buds into a tizzy.
The manchego and sweet corn stuffed chillies with spring onion and chipotle aioli was a successful combination of sweet, tangy and spicy with contrasting textures of mush and squish falling so well together. I could have had a few pieces more if Chef Arvind Bharti (who has been associated with Massive Restaurants before this) didn’t send out an array of delights one after the other…
Amuse House is a neat package of East European and Mediterranean fare, presented in a nouvelle fashion and with a smart twist. So, while you sample the staple Med dishes, the way they are prepared, served and plated is a pleasant surprise and rather interesting. It’s a new place in the otherwise uneventful Ansal Plaza. But the good food and the stylish décor promises to find favour with Delhi’s gourmands.
With over 75 percent of their ingredients imported, the restaurant wants to keep things as authentic as authentic can be, albeit with a clever spin. My watermelon jalapeno mocktail (the sharpness of the pepper is a striking contrast to the sweetness of the fruit) was accompanied by assorted homemade breads. While I was impressed by the garlic and herb butter, I would give some special points to the chilly jam. Do ask for it when you visit.
Dishes like chickpea and mint falafel, with mint yoghurt dressing and chive dressing can be given a pass though the presentation is fancy. But it is the usual falafel that I’m sure you have eaten earlier. Instead call for a crispy chicken bourak with onions, cheese, parsley and a hint of cinnamon. It’s served with a side salad and is a fantastic filo-pastry wrapped Med accompaniment with a cocktail.
What I liked about Amuse House is that they have given equal weightage to vegetarian fare, knowing well that there is a growing tribe of non-meat eaters. A good vegetarian snack is the potato bruschetta with a generous helping of Parmesan shavings. Soft potatoes counter the crispiness of the bread and the cheese gives it that rustic Italian flavour.
I am not too fond of any kind of pates. Hence, I wouldn’t be a good judge of the Chicken liver pate served with chicken terrine and poached hen’s egg with a coating of creamy hollandaise sauce. But from what I heard from the next table, where the same dish was being sampled, it seriously sounded like a well-done dish.
If you crave cheesy delights, I would recommend the grilled goat cheese, beetroots and burnt orange. It is a beautiful dish, not only for how it looks but also how it tastes. Delicate yet piquant, the flavours will stay on for a long time once you’ve wiped the plate clean.
It was time for the main course and after the commendable starter show, we waited with anticipation for the next arrival. The chef didn’t disappoint. The pork belly with parsnip cream, pickled pear, prune puree and crisp were completely divine. The medium rare pork was subtle and melted in the mouth. The accompaniments added the right zing to the umami component.
A lamb counterpart of the chicken bourka, the crispy filo pastry filled lamb meat is Chef Bharti’s take on the classic Kaftan maante and is served with a creamy yoghurt and garlic sauce. However, I wouldn’t rate it above the juicy grilled lamb chops coated with spiced gremolata (assorted herbs) and served with an aubergine dip. The restaurant sure knows its meats well. Every morsel of it was bursting with rich flavour and that dip was something I’d never tasted.
Loyalists of chicken must try the classic roast chicken with rosemary baby potatoes and seasonal veggies and served with a warm chicken au jus. The chicken is soft and tender and the jus is just perfectly seasoned. Another humble yet effective dish is the chicken barley risotto. If you are a gnocchi fan, you could probably ask for the one with Napoli sauce. But for me the sauce was a tad too tart.
A meal in a Med eatery is never complete without traditional Turkish sweets and the chef knows that. He sent out a Med box that comprised the most popular Turkish sweets such as pistachio baklava, basbousa, blah al sham and finger Zainab. I really liked the finger Zainab because it tasted almost like a popular Bengali sweet called langcha!
Sweet cravings are best sated with chocolate. As was mine with the sinful dark chocolate and peanut pastry. Trust me it will make your heart happy and will convince you to return to the restaurant soon.