The Park’s Indian restaurant, FIRE, recently launched its new seasonal menu; as us DSSC peeps are attracted to supper innovations like bees to honey, we promptly made our way over to them to see what’s cooking. And what we saw (tasted) had us intrigued, but more on that to follow!
Making our way to FIRE with our host for the night, Sarah, the first thing that struck us was its make over, the restaurant’s decor has been tweaked to be synonymous with its name more than ever now. With orange and yellow splashed across the trimmings, the place looked ready to breathe fire into our dining experience.
As their courteous staff helped us with the degustation menu, we were greeted by Chef Basu himself, who gladly explained the concept behind his menu for the season. The kingpin of their brand new menu is organic & fresh seasonal produce, or as he calls it, “Earth-friendly, because it should be friendly not only for the animals and the plants but also for nature and for us.” Sourcing earth-friendly ingredients from Eastern & Southern parts of India, he’s curated an appealing melange of regional fare while using contemporary styles of cooking, keeping the modern diner in mind.
Excited about the line-up of dishes that lay ahead, we were ready to chow away! We started off with the Salad of Burrata, Arugula and Tomato, made of beautifully plated rocket leaves topped with baby tomatoes, crispy curry leaves, mustard seeds and cheese from Father Michael, an acquaintance of the Chef, from down south. The rocket leaves and cheese were a pleasant hello to our palate, however, that was set off by the bitterness infused by the curry leaves & mustard seeds. Having said that, they did pair it perfectly with the sweet Prosecco to balance the bitter notes of the dish.
Next up was the Yakhni Shorba for the carnivores and Mango Ginger Rasam for the herbivore. The Mutton Shorba itself was a simple stock, a nice homestyle soup but it lacked that zing to make our eyebrows jump up; it was served with a Bheja Fry Pâté on multigrain toast-sounded fascinating and we were kicked to try out this concoction- alas! The accompaniment didn’t live up to its interesting name and the taste was not far from margarine on toast. The Rasam on the other hand maintained a fine balance between the spice of ginger & sweetness of mango, giving off an intense aroma. It was an absolute delight to have the mellow soup with its partner, the Cherry Tomato and Curry Leaf Bruschetta.
The servers placed a tempting set of starters in front of us, Bhut Jolokia Prawn Stir Fry, Murgh Methi Malai Tikka and Broccoli Fennel Tikki. The vegetarian variants were Masala Corn Kebabs and Podi Tossed Steamed Idlis, the tikki being a common denominator for both. As he did for all the dishes, Chef Basu came to our aid explaining the story behind each of his inceptions; the Bhut Jolokia Prawns had started out as Peri Peri Prawns, but a chance tasting with his server Ruth and a rather scrunched up nose brought him to the realisation that what Peri Peri lacked was more than compensated for by its indigenous cousin, one of the hottest peppers in the world, Bhut Jolokia. Biting into the tiger prawn, we were met with a succulent piece of meat with the ghost pepper sauce blended in perfectly. Though it might be a tad too spicy for some, our only regret was finishing it off too soon! The Murgh Tikka showed up marinated in yoghurt, fenugreek dust and chilli chutney, the organic chicken was tender & the taste of a malai tikka was spot on.
The corn kebabs came with a mango & tamarind chutney on top, which formed an apt mix of sweet and tangy in our mouths and complemented the soft corn base nicely. The idlis were tossed in gun powder, ginger chutney and desi ghee, though the mini spheres were soft and light, the ingredients didn’t flavour these till the centre, leaving us with a fragmented taste yet appreciating the two individually. The last of the appetisers, the Broccoli Fennel Tikki was a tough one to bite into with no broccoli lovers on the table! But leave no experience behind is our motto, and off we went. The initial bite had us mulling over the combination of broccoli & fennel, but a second bite in, and voila! We knew the regular sounding dish couldn’t be without a twist- the centre of the tikki was filled with parmesan cheese, offering a pleasant turn of taste.
The main course was ushered in with the Tawa Paneer Khatta Pyaaz making an entry. The tiny paneer bites were fresh and an ideal tender, although the size did make it seem more of an appetiser than a main course dish. We were at a loss when it came to the name & the game of this dish, the nomenclature read ‘khatta’ but our taste buds detected a sweet tang! The co-star, Truffle Naan was hot & soft as should be, albeit lacking the promised truffle flavour. Next in line was the Duck Mappas Appam, true to its name, this one had a slightly sweet, creamy coconut relish and the meat was falling off the bones effortlessly. The crispy yet soft Appam partnered up nicely with the dish.
The Kari Sukka, a boneless mutton preparation with Virudhunagar Parotta was a delish result of juicy mutton pieces whisked in curry leaf dust and madras onion. We savoured the dry fry with the smashing parotta, which was an ideal flaky and tender at the same time.
Downing that with our wine, we were anticipating the dessert but in for a surprise, by the name of the Achari Risotto. We were served arborio rice mixed with scrumptious chicken pieces and a crispy karela leaf, the vegetarian risotto had bottle gourd (lauki) in place of chicken. It was unanimously agreed that the flavour of pickle was a bit overwhelming and doused the tastes of other ingredients, all the same, we liked the concept behind Kurkuri Karela, and its bitterness did help counter the stark tanginess of the risotto. The Chef told us that though lauki does not find a popular spot among diners, it’s a part of their seasonal menu, but will change after three months as FIRE intends on bringing in a new menu for every season.
Dessert time! We’d finally levelled up to the most fun part of any degustation. The Purple Basil & Thandai Panna Cotta was a blissful marriage of the Italian and the Indian dessert, with the basil adding a nice touch so that it doesn’t become overly sweet. The Kali Mirch Truffle was a little truffle ball laid on a black pepper leaf, to be had by rolling the truffle within the leaf. The sweet truffle and spicy black pepper leaf made for a pleasant surprise, contrasting the different flavours flawlessly. Dessert deux was the Mysore Cacao Chocolate Mousse, Chilli Mascarpone Quenelle and Florentine Crumble. The mascarpone carried a sprinkling of chilli powder, which sat pleasingly with the sweet mousse on our palates, and the chocolate and nuts crumble were a perfect finish- doing its job of making us guilty of too much dessert!
And with that we came to the end of a stellar meal. Also, chatting with Chef Basu is a delight, his enthusiasm shows through as he narrates how he tracked a pork recipe from his wife’s uncle, and when the outcome was a disaster he turned to the uncle’s mom for a simpler & successful version- which now rests proudly on the menu. They’ve forayed into local ingredients, fusion cuisine and organic produce (FIRE expects to be completely earth-friendly in the next four years), the genuine endeavour behind the new menu cannot be missed, and with a little fine tuning it can be smashing.
When: The Winter menu is available for lunch & dinner.
Where: The Park, 15, Parliament Street, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
Holla at them to book your spot: 011-43743000.
How much weight to lose: Rs 1,500+taxes (veg) & Rs 2,000+taxes (non-veg).