Author : Lavina Kharkwal
Chef Sujan Sarkar has a fairly simple food philosophy. He wants to make his customers happy. With the launch of his new winter menu at Olive Qutub, he succeeds not just in making them happy, but ecstatic. Ever since he made that journey from Mayfair to Mehrauli and took over as Chef de Cuisine at Olive Bar & Kitchen, he has been able to elevate Olive Qutub to one of the finest dining destinations in Delhi NCR. A man of few words, he lets his food do all the talking.
I got a glimpse into his culinary brilliance when I was invited to try out the new winter menu at Olive, described as “a potpourri of classic Mediterranean flavours infused with modern European influences”. I rarely go into raptures over food. That privilege is solely reserved for wine. But what I tried out at Olive had me completely floored. Excellent presentation and even better flavours.
Let me share that Olive Qutub has always been an old favourite with the family, but food there was getting a little bit predictable. Of course the bread served hot and fresh in a cast iron pan, salsa made right at the table with mortar and pestle, the best thin crust pizzas in town, and the lovely ambience with the pebbled courtyard, the old banyan tree, never failed to enthuse. However the cuisine lacked that “wow factor” which has changed completely ever since Chef Sujan took over and gave a new direction to the menu. The modern European influence, purity of flavours and the innovative way of presenting even the humblest of ingredients are all so discernible. Even in his absence, Chef Dhruv Oberoi makes sure that there is no compromise either in the quality or the superb plating. You will see what I mean when you go and try out the food there.
Coming to the winter menu, there is wide array of starters and my recommendation is the Andaman Tuna Carpaccio which is served on a braised onion tart which is actually a thin crisp rather than a tart. The tuna has a lovely acidity and combined with the pickled turnip and green apple puree manages to lightly tease the palate. Then there is the Melting Camembert served on a bed of wild mushrooms cooked with just the right amount of thyme and garlic which is a must have for cheese lovers and ideal starter on a cold winter day. Loved the rustic presentation in a cast iron skillet. It’s amazing how Chef Sujan S can present beetroot in so many different ways. In the new menu he has made a Beetroot Carpaccio sandwich with a filling of cream cheese and served it with orange, artichoke, pine nut and mint dressing. All starters and salads are priced between Rs 650 to Rs 900.
There is a fairly wide selection for vegetarians in the new winter menu. Chef Sujan puts it across rather succinctly “As the world is turning into the go green mode, so at Olive Qutub I have selected a separate menu dedicated to vegetarians”. He has worked with seasonal and local produce sourced from farms in Pune and Ooty and has made a liberal use of organic winter vegetable and herbs and refreshing ingredients like radicchio, kale, fresh fennel bulbs, zucchini flowers, kohlarabi, sunchoke. Most vegetarian entrées are priced at Rs 850.
In the Non Vegetarian Entrée section one is really spoilt for choice as there is everything from Chilean Sea bass, Ballotine of Chicken, Muscovy duck breast, Braised Belgium Pork Belly to Irish Angus Sirloin, each prepared using different cooking techniques like sous vide, low temperature braising and cryo freezing. What stands out is that besides getting the texture of the meats just right, each dish comes with a unique sauce, puree, jus or piccalilli. The price range of the Mains is from Rs 1000 to Rs 2500.
The winter desserts feature a Vanilla poached pear served with crème caramel, caramel popcorn consommé, chia seed tuile and hazelnut crunch, and the Valrhona chocolate fondant, two classics one can never go wrong with or have enough of.
All this can be washed down with a perfect winter drink called Hot Velvet which is earl grey tea with star anise & cinnamon and spiked with Grey Goose vodka. Can’t think of a better way to indulge the senses.
One Style Mile, Haveli no 6-8, Kalkadass Marg, New Delhi 110030
Phone no : 01129574444, 9810235472
About the author : Lavina Kharkwal is a WSET certified wine geek who loves learning, talking and writing about wine. She likes to globe trot and connect with fellow wine lovers. She is equally passionate about food and nothing excites her more than trying out new cuisines. She can be contacted at lavina.kharkwal@and can be followed on Twitter @highonwines