Time Out: Grape expectations

May 19, 2011


At the prevailing price of a glass of good wine, it’s not uncommon to feel like sour grapes in Delhi. But it’s not often that the bill actually makes you feel bitter.

We started off all eager to love L’Angoor. The hybrid name, the heraldic logo that extends the pun (two langurs framing a bunch of grapes), the lineage (sister to the well-loved China Club) – all good signs for the already admirable enterprise of opening a wine-focused establishment in the NCR.

Inside, cushions in purple, garnet and merlot punctuate a vista of oak floors and sandstone. The langur crest appears on the duck-egg blue and chocolate-brown table settings, but the décor isn’t cluttered with any further grape or ape nudges. On a spotlit upper balcony recline bottles from over 130 labels, both the once-in-a-lifetime splurge (Château Latour, Rs 42,000 a bottle) and the house party faithful (Jacob’s Creek, ` 1,600 a bottle).

The helpful winelist details grapes, year and country for each, and rejoice: there are 18 vinos by the glass. There was no sign of the much-touted sommelier Davide Zubani, but we didn’t miss him. Our waiter was more than competent, lobbing back suggestions to our intricate specs of “dry”, “sweet, fruity,” “non-fruity” and “absolutely unfruity”. And he was spot-on each time, starting from the big, full-bodied South African Rust en Vrede red (Rs 620 a glass) and a sweetish 2008 Italian Placido white (Rs 450 a glass).

The wide-ranging winelist was thus in good hands, but the wide-ranging food menu wavered from grilled scallops to lamb koftas. The lunch menu offers sandwiches and pastas, while the dinner menu has a strange predilection for meats stuffed with other meats, like edible matryoshka dolls: chicken stuffed with lamb, potatoes stuffed with lamb, squid stuffed with fish.

Blue summer crab cakes (Rs 450) were served in a school-canteen-style compartmentalised white plate: four upright oblongs of batter-fried crabmeat, ranged like a tiny Stonehenge around a dipping sauce. The delicate crab “cakes” held their own against the batter, but the accompanying sauce was mystifyingly disparate, beginning with a cannonblast of chilli and ending on a fruity note. Another thali-plate of three “bar snacks” comprised wasabi peas (odd with wine), cashews and a cumin-heavy chickpea dip that was nothing so much as a detonation of zeera on the tongue.

Rack of lamb (Rs 1,450), was a little tough, but softened by a rosemary-flecked dark jus, and partnered by a towering stack of just-cooked potatoes sandwiched with cheese. Grilled red snapper (Rs 580) in a lemon-butter sauce with roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes was passable. Both went excellently with the recommended wines: a sleek medium-bodied berry-tinged 2007 Bourgogne from burgundy specialists Maison Louis Jadot (Rs 700 a glass), and a pale-straw 2009 sauvignon blanc (` 600 a glass) with bright citrus and gooseberry aromas, from Australian vineyard The Broken Fishplate. Our dessert (Rs 350), misleadingly called “fresh fruit pasta”, was a mint-and-syrup-drenched salad of melon, mango and other fruit julienned into thin strips – refreshing, but not like any pasta shape we’d ever seen.

Like the fable about the fox leaping at a cluster of luscious fruit, a great meal seemed always tantalisingly within reach, but it never came to hand. Sometimes right there (the entrees, the wines), sometimes quite far (the wasabi peas), but never further than when presented with the bill. This included wild Haryana surcharges, but even so, for a meal that’s less than stellar, it left a bouquet that was far from sweet.Naintara Maya Oberoi

Tower C, Lobby level, Global Business Park, MG Road, Gurgaon (0124-2566000). Daily noon-3pm; 7-11pm. Meal for two with four glasses of wine Rs 7,000

Read the original review.




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