Comfort Food the French Way
Rara Avis is another noble attempt on Delhi's dining circuit. This French restaurant is not the first endeavour for restaurant veterans Jerome and Laurent. In fact to me Rara Avis's menu is a more elaborate version of Le P'tit Bar – Jerome's other French restaurant. Le Petit Bar has been an old favourite so of course I didn't mind eating the same food in a nicer setting for a surprisingly lower price. Plus having Laurent take such a hands-on approach with his customers always helps a restaurant stand out from another.
- We started with the much talked-about Meat Terrine, made from rabbit meat. By no means bad but certainly not worth the hype. I found the Terrine to be a bit dry and lacking that something special. Though I did love the sweet beetroot jam on the side that certainly brought the dish up.
- Next came the Smoked Salmon Salad. How can one go too wrong with this? I loved the tangy zesty salad dressing that balanced the salty cured fish perfectly! And was also a break from the butter and cream onslaught to follow. But of course on a normal hedonistic day, I would have tried the Warm Goat Cheese Salad, which judging from P'tit Bar's, would be a winner.
- The Escargot was the highlight of the meal. Not only was it my first encounter with escargot in Delhi but they did this elegant dish great justice. The snails were perfectly tender with the traditional garlic butter submersion – honestly there isn't a better way to eat them!
Next came another winner, the Croutes Aux Morilles. Who's complaining when you combine, wine, butter, cream and morels? Of course this would not be complete without some thick crusty bread which, this creamy, buttery mixture, quite generously drowns!
Everything is going just fine until the mains. Silly me to think I would have a perfect meal. The Basa was highly recommended which is the only reason I even ventured to this dull fish. And I am glad I did because it was the last bit of respite we got. Grilled beautifully with a simple lemon caper butter. Nothing outstanding but did the job.
Next followed our Filet de Boeuf
with green peppercorn sauce. To be quite honest, it isn't entirely their fault that the only things they can get their hands on at a reasonable price are average quality meats. This tasteless tenderloin is not worthy to be served as a steak but best spiced up, stir fried or stewed! The last thing my jaw signed up was for a wrestling match. The peppercorn sauce on the side was more a creamy wine sauce with a few peppercorns floating around. Besides the quality of the meat itself, the steak wasn't very evenly cut which meant our medium rare steak was rarer in parts than others. Neither was the meat allowed to rest enough before plating which led to the tell tale trail of blood across the plate. The accompanying ratatouille was probably the best thing on the plate.
Our Duck Margret was almost there but not quite. The citrusy sweet sauce was lovely but again we got stuck at the meat. The duck I am sure was the best they could get locally but it wasn't quite there either. The fat should have been seared a bit more so it was not so rubbery. And I would have liked the skin on – a layer of crisp flavourful skin would have surely helped the cause.
Sadly, we couldn't even end on a sweet note for our desserts were severely lacking. Starting with the Tarte Tatin
which looked beautiful, the apples were wonderfully caramelised and tender, but it lost out on the pastry. I usually prefer my Tarte Tatin with a lighter, more moist puff pastry but nothing wrong with going the traditional route of short-crust either. Well, that is unless your crust is under-cooked, crumbly and more powder-like than solid, which proved to be quite a letdown.
The Baba Au Rhum
wasn't bad, with a light fluffy rum soaked cake. I could have done with a bit more fruit in the centre. The cream alleviates the alcohol overdose. Though there is something a bit odd about it, a certain acidity and gassiness to it which I'm sure I would have loved as a child but not so much now!
were probably the biggest let down of the evening. The choux pastry was wrong in every way. You were forced to chew on that for way longer than you would want dry stale pastry in your mouth. Combined with that fizzy cream not a pleasant experience.
Though Rara Avis fails to wow, it does provide us with a reasonable option to an otherwise expensive cuisine. So go thinking, comfort food not gourmet. Pick fairly keeping in mind the limitations. Combine it with the hosts' chattiness and warm farewell and you'll certainly leave with a smile.
Budget: Moderate - Meal for two: Rs.2,500
Yes - Nice big roof top.
Ph: 01141085544, 9811232992
M-27, 2nd Floor, M Block Market, Greater Kailash (GK) 2