Indian Accent – The Manor (Friends Colony, New Delhi)

Indian Accent does indeed deserve some of the rapturous critical acclaim for the quality of its fare, but is let down by the icy cold atmosphere, irritating service errors and some inconsistent and less exciting preparations.

Indian accent is about as close as you can get to Desi fine dining. The menu reflects a sophisticated and serious take on just about every type of Indian cuisine, including street food, whether it be Mumbai’s Pao Bhaji or Calcutta’s famous Puchka on the starters list.

Judging by other historical reviews, it seems the complimentary amuse bouche – blue cheese naan – and the green pea shorba soup have been on the menu for a while. These are some of the best. The blue cheese naan – certainly a peculiar combination – worked well. The green pea shorba was rich, creamy and came served in an elegant black espresso mug. The sprinkling of garam masala was just enough to give it a characteristic Indian taste.

The starters were mixed. The best of the selection was the rolled paneer with coriander pesto. This was a thin sheet of paneer wrapped around a nutty pesto filling and then baked. The khandvi with goats cheese was above satisfactory, although the white crispy ball seemed an incongrous addition. Finally the paneer quesadillas were similar to many cheaper varieties elsewhere and the overly delicate pink peppercorn sauce had little to add to the dish.

The rich black dal was some of the best I have tasted (think Dal Bukhara). The Tofu Kofta with squash was well executed, with the squash giving a perfect sweetness to the dish and the quinoa a nice idea on the side. The tandoori paneer with tomato sauce was lacklustre, as the sauce was just too mild to lift the bland paneer. The cheddar and pumpkin kulche were excellent accompaniments, with no ersatz flavourless cheese in sight.Finally the Cannoli dessert with mishti doi were pleasant but hardly inspiring. Some zesty fruits (lime?) might have been added to balance out the sweet filling.

My third guest was left irate by the obscurity of the restaurant’s location and turned up exceedingly late even by her self-proclaimed haughtiness and despite it being my birthday. She reminds me of the sourness that other Indians have to this pricey Delhi attitude. I can’t say I have ever really got it either…

Nevertheless, anyone with a working knowledge of Google Maps and the prescience to ask locals for help, shouldn’t have a problem finding the restaurant. The location is its charming feature; set in a secluded residential area, you can be assured a relaxing ambience, if you can overcome the bitter chills of the Air Conditioning that is…

I am grateful for the restaurant accommodating me at such short notice but I think as a result, we got the worst corner table in the premises.  Despite making 4 separate comments, the draft from the AC was still deathly. My dining partners and I were forced to play musical chairs in an attempt to reheat ourselves. I would strongly advise diners bring their emergency coats along.

Moreover the waiting staff, despite repeated explanations, seemed incapable of leaving a set of crockery for my third rather delayed dining companion (as mentioned above). I started to wonder if the restaurant was running short of that deplorably cheap white ceramic dinner service. Granted it was better than the melamime or glass service I have seen other restaurants using, but this is high-end dining after all.

As a birthday treat, the food was inexpensive relative to international standards and in patches it was excellent, but it still seems India’s fine dining scene has some more way to go…

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