Designed by Conran & Partners, UK and awarded as ‘the best Indian restaurant’ for three consecutive years, Fire restaurant at the Park had sunk into a bit of oblivion over the last couple of years. Under the leadership of executive chef Anurudh Khanna, this restaurant is taking firm steps to re-establish its presence in the ‘nouvelle Indian cuisine’ space, now taken over by chef Manish Mehrotra’s Indian Accent. Pawan and I are back to the minimalistic, albeit trifle boring interiors of the Fire restaurant to have a glimpse of their new menu, hosted by chef Anurudh.
We start the tasting process with an amazing palate cleanser – fresh jamun sorbet seasoned with black salt. A bite takes me back to a taste redolent with memories of my childhood. Savouring the sorbet, I ask Anurudh what he sees as the soul of his restaurant. “We are the first to use authentic recipes, and forbidden fruits, vegetables with a unique presentation, and light, playful textures. Take the jamun sorbet for example or the bael sorbet that we also serve”, he continues, “these need serious efforts going into local sourcing and foraging. It is this foraged produce that contributes to making Fire unique.”
The first dish to arrive on our table is a vegetable that is normally forbidden in restaurants. Kurkure karele ki chat with fresh pomegranate seeds (Rs 425) is crisp, sweet, spicy, tangy, bitter and rather addictive. The platter of trio of beans (Rs 425) has authentic tasting green beans poriyal, a very clever edamame masala, and soft rajma shami kabab, with each of the components being an enjoyable experience.
The curry leaf scallops with poppadom dust and mustard cress (Rs 895) is an inspired idea but alas not backed by an equally inspired execution. The dish is over salted and not optimally cooked, with the inside of the scallops being mushy rather than spongy.
Breaking the linearity of a traditional meal, what we are served next is an ice-cream. Tender coconut pearls (Rs 425) is a tender coconut ice-cream served inside a halved coconut shell. It is very much like what Natural’s in Mumbai serves, though the dish can be improved by adding only the tenderest of tender coconut flesh to the base.
We start the mains with the restaurant’s signature narangi black cod (Rs 995), which is a fun dish to have. Here the black cod has been scented by dried and powdered orange zest, which makes the dish quite unique. It is grilled perfectly in the tandoor, giving it a smoky zesty taste and a nice orange hue. The stacks asparagus chilla (Rs 645) have a creamy mint flavoured sauce in between each layer, making the dish a perfect bite. The asparagus spears accompanying it are too fibrous and woody to compliment the dish well. The dum ki champ (Rs 1450), unlike what we have been served so far, has a heavy sauce and chewy meat, and does not live up to the culinary excellence demonstrated so far.
The accompanying tomato pappu dal (Rs 495) is exciting and tomatoey as it should be. Amrud kairi ki sabzi (Rs 495) exemplifies the restaurant’s claim of light, playful textures. Gosht pan patta pulao (Rs 675) is how pulao should be. Flavourful rice, with the minty touch of the pan leaf and perfectly yielding meat makes this dish another winner. The organic bread basket (Rs 445) provides the fibre to the body, though I would have preferred roomali roti.
For desserts, we are served pan ki rasmalai (Rs 425) which is actually gulkand ki rasmalai. While the gulkand part is good, the rasmalai itself is hard. The filter coffee mousse (Rs 425) has a strong, appealing taste of Chennai, and the baked anjeer yoghurt (Rs 425) has clear, distinct flavours and textures.
Fire delights with its amazing variety and technique. If the restaurant irons out the glitches and delivers consistent quality, it can pretty soon lay its claims to the ‘the best Indian restaurant’ for the fourth time.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 4.0 | Ambiance: 3.5 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 1600 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 12:30 PM to 3 PM, 7:30 PM to 12 Midnight
Address: The Park, 15, Parliament Street, Connaught Place, New Delhi | Phone: +011 23743000