Over the years I have realized, easiest way out of a writer’s bloc is writing a review. There is not much scope of creativity or expression, just basic reporting and it’s always easier to criticize. Having said that, let me start with a recent dinning experience, at perhaps most known restaurant of Delhi, Bukhara in ITC Maurya.
It was roughly 6 years back, during my MBA when I went there for the first time and since then I never felt the urge of going there again. Till last week if you have asked me for a dinner there, I would have said no, why if you would ask then I can’t put a finger on it, but response would have been, it’s not worth it. To anyone this would be absurd, especially when you are talking about one of the biggest names in fine dinning and I have nothing concrete to say except ‘it’s not worth it’. But after my recent visit I can put a finger; finger I can put a full hand on it; its one big experience of disappointments, one after another.
First things first, if you are a walk-in without a reservation chances are you will have to wait for atleast 30-45 minutes on weekend and 15-20 minutes on weekdays, even if there are available seats inside which you can see. Yes you heard it right. When you have a reservation and if you are late by lets say 15 minutes due to bad traffic and failed to inform them, then again you will be asked to wait, as they don’t hold the table. They run a tighter schedule than German trains.
After you manage to secure an entrance, your hostess will just point you to go in and not show you to your table, and you will be left wondering which direction to go in; before some smart ass will tell you to ask the lady at entrance for help or will shout table for 2. Once inside, décor and interior is nothing to be in awe off and has very average ambience. I can mention a number of places in Delhi with far better ambience and décor. Secondly it’s all cramped up and overcrowded. They have lot of customers and very less space. So tables are small, too close to each other and there are no chairs, but stools. You can say goodbye to your plan of a nice comfortable dinner, as sooner or later your back will start to hurt; and if you lean too much on side or back, you are bound to bump in other table.
A big problem with overcrowding is noise. You put too many people in too little space and there will be noise, even if they are whispering to each other and after few glasses of wine seldom people whisper. Its good they don’t have any music playing, which under normal circumstance is a bad thing, there should be music to go with your ambience, but here its good, as music would have only added to the noise. So not only dinner wont be comfortable it wont even be quiet. Honestly I felt all the setting is not some mistake but a deliberate attempt to make you leave as soon as possible so that they can cramp more people in.
Moving to the food and service. For a place, which is charging Rs. 750 for a Dal Makhani and Rs. 250 for a naan, you would expect good service, right? Wrong! In concurrence with ambience the service is very average. No doubt the servers speak fluent English with an accent but that is all they do. They have an air around them of some superiority and not very keen to take order, you need to call them and not just once but twice perhaps thrice to place one. They don’t have time to explain the intricacies of the menu, nor patience to answer your questions. They will barge in to place your order on table; they won’t care to say excuse me or show some politeness in doing so. They are too busy managing the crowd and there is simply no time to attend you. Infact the level of service is so pathetic that it took them 20 minutes and 3 reminders to serve Amritsari Kulcha. Imagine a wait of 20 minutes for breads in middle of your meal.
The menu is very small with limited number of dishes and nothing much to choose from, especially if you have dietary preference of vegetarian only. So we ordered Dal Bukhara, Paneer Tikka, Butter naan & Amritsari Kulcha. No doubt the food is good, I would even go upto saying amazing. Daal is properly simmered and appropriately cooked. Butter naan is soft with adequate fermentation and Kulcha is properly and evenly stuffed. Only Paneer Tikka was a little let down, with paneer getting little hard after getting cold and the flavor was not spicy but little bland. Infact food is only good thing in this place; rest all is a big let down.
To sum it up, it’s an average place with good food. But dinning is not only about food, it’s a unique experience that you don’t get anywhere else, and the experience you expect in a fine dinning restaurant is completely missing here. There are lots of places with amazing food, which do not claim to be fine dinning and do not charge 1800 bucks for a Paneer Tikka, but has a unique experience to offer.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would rate it 2.5 and that’s only because of food and if we talk only about food and nothing else, then yes rating would be 4+. Now if you would ask me for a dinner at Bukhara in ITC Maurya, I would rather prefer the local dhaba.