Basil and Thyme has been a part of Delhi’s tapestry ever since I can remember. I used to come here pretty often, addicted that I was to their chicken liver pate and many other wonderful dishes….not to forget the divine tiramisu. After an interval of about half a decade, I decide to go back to this evergreen favourite.
The restaurant is still the same. The inside remains a minimalist warm white room, with stone floors and large windows overlooking the greenery of Santushti Shopping Complex. The brain child of Bhicoo Manekshaw, India’s first cordon bleu chef, this restaurant was once a very popular lunch spot for well heeled ladies serving great dishes from the continent like carrot-and-orange soup, pita triangles with garlic butter, roast chicken stuffed with black mushrooms, or a “filo parcel” stuffed with vegetables and glazed with a coriander hollandaise. Even though alcohol is not served, this lunch spot is a favorite of Delhi’s upper crust and the embassy crowd.
This is the first time I visit the restaurant without booking in advance but just manage to beat the rush by arriving just before one pm, the peak hour here. We pick our favourite table, and order. I do not have to look at the menu and order a liver pate (Rs 315) as the starter. It arrives a few moments later accompanied by a basket full of fresh, thin melba toast. I am delighted to find that nothing has changed. The dish tastes the same – a medley of flavours, smoky and buttery, with beautiful undertones, and not at all minerally as liver pates can be. I spread a chunk of it over the melba toast, and have a time of my life.
For the main course, I go for another favourite of mine, the lamb moussaka (Rs 535) while my friend wisely chooses the roast chicken (Rs 525). The lamb moussaka has layers of minced meat, zucchini and eggplant all topped with a great béchamel sauce, and then baked. The taste and texture are both befitting cordon bleu cooking, and every bite tastes different. The grilled chicken has been stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and black mushrooms and then beautifully plated. The chicken breast is grilled to perfection and is succulent soft. Fully satiated with the wonderful taste of the lunch still lingering in the mouth, we decide to skip the dessert.
Nothing much has changed here, apart from the fact that most of the diners are in their 60s. With a limited menu, no wine and a formal atmosphere, it is understandable that this place has not found favour with the fickle younger generation. The food and the place remain a timeless classic. You are advised to book a table in advance to save disappointment.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 4.5 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.5
Meal for Two: Rs 2000 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 10:30 AM to 6 PM (Sunday Closed)
Address: Santushti Shopping Complex, New Wellingdon Camp, Opposite Hotel Samrat, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi | Phone: 011 24673322, 011 24674933