We are at Mist at the Park Hotel, located on the busy parliament street in the heart of New Delhi to try out their northern Italian cuisine as a part of the buffet served during lunch and dinner. The restaurant that also serves as the coffee shop has a pleasant contemporary designed space. The smartly dressed service team welcomes us with warmth and a smile which is rare these days, especially in the five star hotels in New Delhi.
The décor here is minimal and the atmosphere of bustling service team and a live pasta counter makes the place inviting. As we glance at the well thumbed a-la-carte menu, we are joined by the Executive Sous Chef Gaurav Anand. We ask him more about northern Italian cuisine. “Northern Italian cuisine is characterized by less use of olive oil, pasta and tomato sauce and more use of butter and chesses for cream sauces”, says he.
Since this is a vast spread of some rather nice antipasti, mains and desserts, we are sharing here only the noteworthy hits and misses.
Attracted by the vast spread of the antipasti, we immediately proceed to the artistically laid out table. Simply sautéed oyster, cepes, and Portobello mushrooms fascinate with their umami taste and the vast variety of textures. The addition of figs and the very fresh and tender zucchini flowers make it a perfect plate, and we are excited about the stuff to follow. Gaurav tells us that it’s the superior quality of the veggies that gives the dish the special taste and the team at Mist is very particular about sourcing the right ingredients. The cold meats (coppa, milano, felino, parma, mortadella) platter is again a credit to their sourcing, because each bite transports us to the bucolic countryside of the areas around Venice.
It is time for the soups now. We try the home style seafood soup which is hearty. Here is a clear soup that showcases and highlights the seafood in it. The crab meat stuffed back in a small crab shell is tasty, and the giant prawns in it are great too. The borletti bean soup disappoints somehow. It is a boiled rajma soup with little flavour. I can appreciate the challenge of interpreting a classic soup that has a meaty stock for the Indian vegetarians.
As we move on to taste the main course we see considerable options for a vegetarian which is not very common. The Funghi alla griglia con provolone (Grilled mushroom and panfried provolone cheese) tastes fantastic. The gnocchi, cooked with mushrooms and other veggies in a cream based sauce is a bit dense for the palate, but has a soft texture.
The non-vegetarian selection, as expected, delights. Executive chef Anirudhh Khanna insists that we try the famous osso bucco, (Italian for bone with a hole, a reference to the marrow hole at the centre of the cross-cut veal shank) and it is a great dish. It is cooked with tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and a copious amount of red wine for many hours. This dish is authentic, and has a very tender meat in gravy quite similar to that of the French classic, coq au vin. This pares well with its traditional accompaniment – risotto alla Milanese.
We save some appetite and wait for the obvious Italian classic – Tiramisu. It is one of the better Tiramisus but clearly not the best. The ingredients are of the finest quality but they just don’t come together. The saviordi layering is bit less, and so is the espresso kick. The mascarpone is in plenty and overpowers other flavours. The brownie is good and the black forest cake and many other desserts are noteworth, and I leave them to try the next time I visit Mist.
This festival is a beginning into a healthy trend, which is definitely going to enrich the food offerings in NCR. It is time we started going beyond national clichés into regional delicacies, and so Park hotel’s effort is commendable. The antipasti counter here is amazing and so are some of the mains. What is rather nice also is the amazing attentiveness of the staff.
Rating out of 5
Food: 3.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs. 3200+taxes | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12:30 PM to 3 PM; 7:30 PM to midnight (Festival is on till 3rd March’13)
Address: Mist, The Park, 15, Parliament Street, New Delhi | Telephone: 011 2374 3000
– By Aalok Wadhwa with inputs from Shipra Sharma