LANTERN KITCHEN & BAR, RAJENDRA PLACE, Delhi: A HIDDEN PARADISE

Interiors 2Butter chicken lovers from a Facebook food group went on a hunt – they went looking for the best butter chicken in Delhi-NCR. The result of that hunt was that Lantern Kitchen and Bar in Rajendra Place was declared to have the best butter chicken in Delhi NCR.

That was it ! The Punjabi in me could not stomach the fact that not only had I never eaten there but I had never even heard of the place ! So I just had to go there.

Located pretty close to the Rajendra Place Metro Station in Rajendra Bhawan, Lantern can be conveniently reached by people coming from either Noida or Gurgaon through use of the Metro.

Interiors 3The first thing which struck me, as soon as I entered the one hundred and fifty six seater restaurant, was the chilled out pubby ambience. It has a huge bar on one side almost running one entire length of the restaurant, barring a few tables, on the ground floor and ample seating running the length opposite the bar. They have a stage tucked away near the entrance for live bands performing four days a week. There is also an open air area on the first floor where one can enjoy sheesha.

Lantern is run by two brothers Suneet Sahni and Jasneet Sahni. Suneet takes care of the bar dishing out some amazing cocktails. Jasneet is the executive chef who started working at the tender age of nineteen years – he is well travelled and has, in the past, worked with some of the top five star hotels in the country.

As the evening unfolded, I was pleasantly surprised to discover certain facts. Firstly, I was flabbergasted when told that this restaurant is all of sixteen years old (though revamped around 4-5 years back). Secondly, the alcoholic drinks are not only well made but also priced really low. Thirdly, I came looking for butter chicken but was unexpectedly bowled over by some of the other dishes.

_DSC0070We started with Garlic Peppery Chicken – grilled chicken breast cut up in thick strips, tossed with broccoli and bell peppers in a cream based sauce with lots of garlic and a hint of pepper at the back of the throat. It was all that the name suggested – garlicky and peppery.

_DSC0078Pulled Lamb Burger – Slow cooked lamb in gravy, topped with a fried egg and served in a bun. This was a whopper of a burger. One of the softest buns which are fried (which got me nostalgic as they made me recall the burgers with fried buns available in cinema halls when we were kids – the comparison ends there itself though because, to compare these beauties with those oily, tough/crunchy burgers of the cinema halls would be an absolute shame.) The lamb is really well seasoned lamb and the helping of the lamb itself puts a smile to your face. This burger becomes an addiction the minute you dig in though the accompanying chili can be avoided.

_DSC0075Turkish Kofta Kebab –two long seekhs with grilled koftas served with hummus and tzatziki. One bite was enough to make me fall in love with these most juicy and softest kebabs. The juice was literally dripping in my mouth with the sweetness from onions, garlic and herbs adding to the flavour. Both the well balanced hummus and the slightly garlicky, sweet tzatziki enhanced the taste of the kofta kebabs.

_DSC0086Nan Bukhara – A huge nan which is chicken stuffed and chicken topped and during the baking process, egg is splashed on it. An absolute delight to dig into and can be had on its own.

_DSC0085Butter Chicken – a light orange gravy which, at first look, indicated that no color had been added to it. The chicken had spent ample time in the tandoor to get a nice smoky flavor and had not been over cooked. The gravy was not a smooth, pasty one as sold in most of the restaurants. It had a very unique coarseness to it (from the tomatoes which were not ground in a blender to a smooth paste) which took it to another level. Thankfully, the gravy also did not have an overdose of cream killing all other flavors as is the case in most places. However, personally speaking, I would have preferred a bit more of a tangy hit from the gravy.

_DSC0072A must mention is for the Frozen Passion Fruit Martini which was served like a triple sundae. It came like this huge slush and got me all excited like a kid. I enjoyed it to the last drop. As if this was not enough, I had to try their Electric LIIT. Who would have thought of a blue LIIT, which totally refreshed me and left me asking for more.

A place I visited just for butter chicken, but ended up loving more than just that ! A lovely ambience, attentive servers, retro nostalgic music, awesome food, well balanced cocktails, cheap booze, very Punjabi helpings (read big), sheesha, live bands four days a week –what more can one ask for ?

Ratings (Out of 5)

Food: 4.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0

Meal for Two: Rs1200 | Wheel Chair Friendly: No | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes | Timings: 12pm to 1am

Address: 163/164 Rajendra Bhawan, Near Rachna Picture Hall, Rajendra Place, New Delhi | Telephone: +91 9015447000.

Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.

 

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