Half the fun of getting to our review this evening, at a new West Delhi restaurant, is our ride. We’re taking a cab - because as a girlfriend prudently points out, planned single cocktails often turn into a night of debauchery – which turns out to be a grand white Ambassador, tricked out with lace curtains and a rolled up India flag on the hood. Drifting through the city on what feels like our very own plush couch, we feel benevolent, special, eager to bestow praise.
Fortunately, Over The Top, which opened recently in Janakpuri, makes a promising first impression, all hardwood floors and a well-stocked bar. The outdoor patio is even prettier, strewn with wicker chairs and fat sofas, low glass tables and a large projector screen showing the Euro 2012.
We settle into the game and order drinks, going along with the martinis suggested by our waiter, frothy watermelon cocktails and perhaps the best mango drink we’ve tasted all summer: boozy aamras garnished with a slice of mango, this is an aperitif, cocktail and dessert all rolled into one.
Rome Far & Wide
Soaking up the alcohol are bok choy and black mushroom dumplings along with Thai lamb balls, picked from a baggy, unedited Chinese-Thai-Indian-Italian menu. The lamb balls come spiked with sharp lemon grass seasoning and are cooked well, served in a tangy red sauce; dumplings are a pleasant combination of earth and green, woodsy and fragrant.
Because Over The Top has a wood-fired oven and we are with an Italian friend, we order mozzarella and tomato pizza for mains as well as crispy honey chicken. The chicken is disappointing, far too sweet with nothing to cut the flavor. As for the pizza, our Italian friend turns her nose up at it, declaring that it tastes like something that’s been taken out of the freezer and stuck in a microwave for 30 seconds. The best thing we can say is that the cheese is nice, fresh and creamy, but undercut by a thick, gummy base and oddly sweet tomato sauce.
By now, the goodwill we had walked in with, perpetuated by our delightfully retro ride and the prospect of many drinks, is waning. Over The Top, we decide, despite its pretty patio and smashing drinks, isn’t worth a second visit. The food is disappointing, the atmosphere tepid (we are two of a handful of diners), the journey to get here, long. Unless you live in the neighbourhood, we suggest you find a spot closer to home to watch the Euro, even if you do have a white Ambassador to drive you around.
Getting there: B 1/633, above Pantaloons, Janakpuri, call 41417646, Rs 1800 for meal for two with cocktails.