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Chez Nini

I am by no means familiar with restaurants in any city in India. Yes, I have spent some semi-significant time in the country over the course of the last 6 years and sure I can probably rattle off a few should-try places in Bangalore, when I was there for 5 months in 2011, I can’t say that I know much of anything at all. However, it’s every so often that you come across something that’s worth mentioning. If you’re in search for European fare that’s not the usual soaked-and-drenched-in-sauce pasta, or the typical Mediterranean kebabs and shish taouks, and you specifically want French, Chez Nini is the place to go.

Chez Nini is the brainchild of Chef Nira Singh, born and raised in Montreal, Canada. Yes, Canada. Don’t they say that all good things come from The North? They don’t? Oh okay. Anyway, Chez Nini is located in the apparently rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Meher Chand market. The decor and appearance of the place is misleading considering its surroundings but you feel as though you could be in a French bistro in Europe when you walk in.

Bread with onions, olives

Bread with onions, olives

photo 2

Poutine, with house made cheese curds. Can't beat that.

Poutine, with house made cheese curds. Can’t beat that.

Crispy pork belly, sweet potato mash and eggplant caviar

Crispy pork belly, sweet potato mash and eggplant caviar

Interior of Chez Nini

Interior of Chez Nini

What to try?
Well, I had the poutine. What’s not to like about fries, gravy and cheese? Especially home made cheese curds! I also had the crispy pork belly, the chocolate tart and not to mention two bottles of prosecco between my friend and I. I wished I had room to eat the Coq au Vin, but I guess one of you will have try it out! People also say to try the Confit of Duck Legs.

I gotta thank my friend Deepti for taking me to this place.

Even if you have nothing good to say about the food (which I assure you, will not be the case), you have to applaud (the gorgeous) Chef Nira for taking on the daunting task of serving French food in an Asian country making it soulful and inviting. Also, she has a habit of stopping by your table to say hello so keep an eye out! (Well, it’s really hard to miss her).

Chez Nini
Shop No. 79 & 80,
Mehar Chand Market,
Lodhi Road , Lodhi Colony,
Delhi , 110003
Phone: (+91) 9560211223, (+91) 9650257451, (+91) 11 49050665, (+91) 11 49050666

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The NoMad: The Epic Chicken

My dish for the year has got to be chicken. “WHAT?!” You gasp. “Chicken??? That’s it?!” Yes, that’s it. The best chefs can do wonders with this white meat bird. For example, Daniel Humm. After acquiring Eleven Madison Park from Danny Meyer, Humm and business partner Will Guidara have been working on the most anticipated chicken dish, er, I mean, restaurant, The NoMad.

Anyway, the dish, aptly named, Chicken, costs a whopping $78. “WHAT?!” You gasp again. That’s right. $78. But stuffed with foie gras, black truffles and brioche, it was worth every damn penny.

The (epic) chicken.

The chicken is shown to you before it is taken apart into breast slices and a little bowl of all the dark meat. The meat was moistly flavored with the truffles and foie gras. Divine.

The egg appetizer, poached with asparagus, quinoa and parmesan.

The Lobster entreé

The tagliatelle. With crab. Mmm.

Warm and delicious zucchini bread for the table.

Possibly the best dessert I’ve tasted in a while is NoMad’s pastry chef Mark Welker’s rendition of Milk & Honey. Flaky milk brittle and shortbread topped with caramel laced ice cream. I could bury my face into that plate again and again.

Milk & Honey dessert

Peanut Butter dessert

All in all, an extremely epic dining experience. Get your reservations and GO!

The NoMad @ The NoMad Hotel
1170 Broadway (at 28th St)
New York, NY 10001
(p) 212-796-1500

P/S: Another chicken dish to try is the one at Marc Forgione, downtown.

Degustation Wine and Tasting Bar

Degustation is like the quiet cousin in the corner of the family picture who doesn’t say much but you know she’s extremely smart and successful. The restaurant is still going strong since its beginnings about 2+ years ago and there is no sign of it slowing down, even with only 16 seats.

We opted for the $50, 5 course tasting menu. Being a typical Asian and as with tasting menus, I was somewhat concerned that I might not be completely satisfied at the end of the meal. After the fifth course I of course had some room left for more food but I can say that the portions were pretty well thought out.

Crudo of seasonal fish

Caramelized torija

As the NYMag review mentioned, the food doesn’t taste forced or pretentious. One thing I noticed was the plates that were used looked like the ones you could get at Ikea or Walmart. The emphasis was solely on the freshness of the ingredients and the blend of their flavors. My favorite was the torija. Crispy and slightly burnt on one side and paired with a slice of grapefruit to add tang to the sweetness of the pudding. I’ve been told that this is a new version of how they used to make this dessert. Previously it was served with grapefruit foam and frozen grapefruit (see here).

Although I wished the portions were bigger, I was pretty impressed with the food. If I had been an over-achiever (and had a fatter wallet) I would’ve definitely done the 10-course instead.

Degustation Wine & Tasting Bar
239 E 5th St,
New York 10003
(Btwn Bowery & 2nd Ave)
212-979-1012