Literally translating into House of Nini, Chez Nini looks less like a home than a sliver of the Enchanted Forest, populated with bark-brown tables, speckled antique mirrors, moss green walls and its very own Faraway Tree: latticing over the ceiling, this is laden with fairy lights and a pretty bird’s nest. Imagined and executed by a Cordon Bleu trained chef who grew up in Montreal, would the French Canadian cuisine be as magical as the interiors? J’espere!
Good Thinks Come To Him Who Waiters
We’ll admit: we were a little lost in translation with some of the French names on the menu, as well as how dishes would go together. The staff seemed equally befuddled, hemming and hawing before finally bringing over the chef/owner to explain. Can we order a crash course, please?
Our waiters were still confused when they brought us Crispy Pork Belly, which we had ordered for mains, even before our starters. Featuring seriously superior (but not crisp) meat, the dish could do with a change in sides: an off-tasting moong and chickpea salad and a scoop of aubergine pate that sounds a lot more glamorous than it tasted.
Our soup course, however, was perfectly balanced, warm Saffron Tomato Water that came in a little teapot and was poured over herbed prawns and a tangy, citrus salad which exploded like stars on our palates (we’re suddenly dreaming of Kerouac!).
Also good were Bacon Wrapped Dates, a mix of sweet and salty, chewy and soft; we just wish the portions were larger (only four dates on a plate!) and served without over-greasy okra chips. Brave-hearted diners should also sample Poutine, a blissful golden creation of fries and hunks of cloud-soft cheese smothered with brown onion sauce. Spellbindingly good and great motivation to go to the gym tomorrow! Coq Au Vin was our last salty; chicken braised in red wine with mushrooms, potatoes, and (traditionally) lard. Low on taste, it’s not something we would order again.
Yes, Watermelon Jelly Can Be Sexy
Despite our cream-meat-lard-butter laden meal, we forged on to order dessert – the things we do for you, dear reader! We began with a gathering of seasonal fruit gazpacho, sour cream ice cream, crisp honeycomb, watermelon jelly, brandied cherries and more: this is the only fruit platter we’ll ever eat again! Churros with dark chocolate, white chocolate and coffee ganache were also incredible.
Fork of The Faraway Tree
Overall, our meal at Chez Nini was very promising. Here is one of the more interesting additions to Delhi’s culinary scene, one that with some fine tuning could become a solid dining destination, a small restaurant serving up big meals at (almost!) reasonable prices, twinkling fairy lights and yes, some magic.
Getting there: 79, 80 Mehar Chand Market, Lodhi Road, 9971961216, meal for two (without alcohol) Rs 3,800.