From Mozart I learnt to say important things in a conversational wayí - said GB Shaw. And to further this beautiful conversation, to my mind comes the evergreen melody Theme for a dreamsung by Cliff Richard, each time I visit or even think about 1911. No, not the era, Iím talking about 1911 at the historic Imperial Hotel. The Akoiís masterpiece is an evocation of a Parisian brasserie that outglows anything within brie-tossing distance of the Indian Ocean.
Since 1911 also refers to the time when Delhi was christened as the capital, imagine my surprise when I discovered that iconic places like this one and Bukhara which donít usually propagate change were retracing their roots by going into nostalgia to revamp their menu. Listed as one of the 1,000 places to see before you die, Imperial Hotel is one of the oldest hotels this side of the Suez.
I am in love. Itís the Old Fashioned cocktail, scented perfectly with orange zest, Scottish smoked salmon, French Attens Chardonnay and the inhouse gorgeous tarot reader Rekha Vohra who is accurate to the point of giving you gooseflesh. The efficiency of Mr Thakur, the F&B chief, who remembers me and seems not to regret it. Itís the perfect salad Lyonnaise and the Dirty Martini. Itís the French Onion soup and the glass of St Estephe, one gorgeous evening. Itís the hush of the saxophone and the cup of Jasmine tea. Itís the perfect Negroni and Bronx cocktails. Itís the professionalism of non-overbearing service by the ever-smiling second-in-command Manas Krishnamoorthy.
Experience is the key here. Itís like a bar scene right out of a Bond movie, an atmosphere that shouts classic. Make this place a special evening out, a perfect date spot, quiet, intimate and cosy. Some things in life are beyond sensationalÖThey are downright transcendental. Iíd been dreaming of the Vespar cocktail for some months now.When bartender Pradeep Srivastava brought this flute of seduction in front of me, it was as if heavenís gates had opened. I strongly believe I have an unrequited love affair with seafood and am convinced, the adorable chef Willi Haueter knows exactly what women want.
Designed to pay tribute to the hotelís grand history, its polished floors, postered walls and the ambient lighting make everything look like a sepia-drenched picture. Just a beautifully appointed scene. Pretentious? No way, a bit upscale, but not uncomfortable. Also, they did carry one of my favourite wines: the Baby Brunello (smoky, spicy, smooth).
The dish with the most mileage on my palate is undoubtedly the Crepes Suzette, flamed with Cointreau and orange juice though it shouldíve been Grand Marnier. Yes, that tummy is going to sneak upon me any time now, but I donít care. The Veuve Clicquot has clouded my judgment.
If I ever had a lobster as a best friend/pet and I had to devour it, then I would tell this lobster that it should meet its true destiny after death as 1911ís Lobster Thermidor, gratinated with hollandaise. Perfectly balanced, never too salty. Fresh and simply delicious. The lobster will then understand. As for me, I would sit with my glass of Kir Royale and cry for my mate and shed tears while I say, ďmy lobster is so deliciousĒ - it will be an ironic Homer Simpson moment.
This fashionable little spot looks straight off a Paris movie set - smartly clad waiters, tile work, plush furnishings.Anyway, what Iím trying to say is, basically, I kind of want to establish a domicile there. The clientele is stellar and if you can take your mouths off them for even just a moment, try the menu.
I canít recommend this place any higher. I hope you fall in love with it the way I have.