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Lounge review: Capital Kitchen, New Delhi

A good old 'coffee-shop' menu reminiscent of the 1980s, and some stimulating cocktails

Nasi Goreng at Capital Kitchen
Nasi Goreng at Capital Kitchen

The Taj Palace Hotel has been on a rejuvenation spree. Capital Kitchen is the new avatar of its coffee shop, the erstwhile Kafe Fontana. Although renovated in new shades of copper and burnished browns, I was gripped by a sense of nostalgia as I walked across the restaurant looking out at the putting green and pool.

The restaurant seats 144 people, 86 of them indoors. Three large marble island buffet counters line a wall across the room with a magnificently laid-out buffet lunch. At the far end stands a pizza counter, complete with a wood-fired oven.

The island bar at the centre of the restaurant gave us the feeling that we were in an upmarket airport lounge. However, that hardly mattered because, when we got the menu, it was a delight. Not a single “fusion" or “clever" dish that people seem to be offering all over these days, but just a good old menu reminiscent of the 1980s, with classic coffee-shop offerings, from club sandwiches to comfort food like rajma chawal.

Five signature dishes from Taj properties around the world were also on offer.

The good stuff

We were told the bartender had special cocktails on offer. We tried a couple: The Scotsman’s Lunch (Rs600), a mix of single malt, with carrot juice, pea puree and lime, was reminiscent of a Bloody Mary. The Green Salad (Rs600) with cucumber, coriander, ginger and ginger beer, tasted exactly like a pureed salad with a shot of vodka. Both were palate-stimulating.

Alongside, we ordered the Fish and Chips (Rs700), two pieces of flaky soft river sole encased in a wonderfully crunchy light batter made with London Pride beer. Accompanied by a sharp tartar sauce, a fat slice of lime and chunky potato wedges, it was simple and perfect.

The Nasi Goreng (Rs800) was one of the stars of our meal: spicy fried rice with a hint of sambal, topped with a perfectly fried runny egg. It came with two skewers of chicken satay marinated in soya and peanut sauce. Crisp prawn crackers added a welcome crunch to the dish. It was a burst of perfectly balanced flavour in the mouth.

Of the eight pizzas on offer, we ordered the Pizza Fungi (Rs600), a pretty mushroom and red onion pizza, which arrived on a wooden platter. The thin crust had the right crunch and was a connoisseur’s delight—low on seasoning but well executed, nonetheless.

While the Fiery Chicken (Rs600) was not so fiery, the chicken legs, dredged in buttermilk, flour, onion and garlic powder, were satisfyingly decadent. The kick, however, came from the brilliant blue cheese cayenne pepper sauce.

The not-so-good

The New England Lobster Roll (Rs1,000) was miserly on the lobster and overpowering on the mayo.

The desserts needed work. We were promised berries on the Seasonal Fruit Crumble (Rs400). All we got was a mini apple and raisin tart with a crumble on top.

The Una Minuto La Tiramisu (Rs400) was served from a larger dish on to a dessert plate to add informality to the menu. The Neapolitan recipe the chef apparently follows yielded a dish that had little resemblance to the strong flavours of espresso and mascarporne we associate with a tiramisu. This was topped with a crumbly chocolate crunch. It did nothing for us.

Bottom line: If you want reliable classic food, a quick working lunch and attentive service, head to Capital Kitchen.

Talk plastic

A meal for four (three cocktails, one small plate, three mains, one pizza and two desserts) cost us Rs8,800, inclusive of taxes.

Capital Kitchen, Taj Palace Hotel, 2 Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave (26110202). Open 24x7.

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