A Fare To Remember

The iconic restaurant Orient Express has just introduced an à la carte section after 28 years of dishing up a delectable four course set menu.

Written by Shantanu David | Published: October 7, 2012 1:44 am

The iconic restaurant Orient Express has just introduced an à la carte section after 28 years of dishing up a delectable four course set menu

The Orient Express has fascinated us ever since we read Agatha Christie and Bram Stoker. An uber-luxury train that travels across Europe from Paris to Istanbul,and has over the years played host to Hercule Poirot,James Bond and Abraham Van Helsing,along with a host of real prominent personalities,what could be sweeter? Eating at a restaurant inspired by the train and the various destinations it crossed,of course. The Taj Palace’s Orient Express has been in operation for 28 years and is a fitting tribute to what was perhaps the world’s most celebrated train service which,despite having been discontinued in 2009,is still associated with the epitome of hedonistic elegance.

Upon entering the restaurant,it becomes immediately clear why it enjoys such high regard as one of the doyens of Delhi’s culinary scene ever since it’s inception. There is a dining coach inspired by the original Wagonlits trains (the company which used to operate the Orient Express),while the rest of the the space has been converted into the replica of a train platform. Instead of a mess of people and kiosks however,this platform is suffused with dim lighting with a jazz performer singing to the cascading chords of a piano. The service is exquisite,with the stewards’ every movement seeming like a choreographed dance. Whether ushering you into your seat,serving you food,or clearing away its debris,their every action is a performance. Indeed,in the spirit of true country bumpkins,we are unsure of what to gawk at first: the singer with the liquid voice; the consummate attendants; or just the painstakingly re-created Orient Express.

Then of course there is the food. Since it opened its doors way back in 1984,the restaurant has always served a fixed three to four course menu,with an almost dogmatic devotion to its food. So when its chefs announce that they have designed an à la carte menu,foodies sit up and take notice. The menu comprises various classic dishes that have been served to guests over the years,along with some fresh perspectives. So guests can choose between the original table d’hôte option or the new à la carte option,the only major difference being that the carriage is reserved for people ordering the prix fixe menu.

The attention to detail is fanatical,the food itself superlative. For example,the Porcini Cappucino’s flavour is a proverbial ocean of earthy,buttery goodness dotted with islands of decadent dessicated truffle. A starter,it is served in a demitasse and at first glance completely deceives the drinker into thinking of it as coffee. It’s only upon sipping that one realises the sea of munificent mushroom-ness that one has swum into. All the other dishes,whether the Pan Seared Canadian Scallops or the Warm Chocolate Pudding with Liquid Chocolate Centre,are equally unparalleled.

We can only advise to leave yourself to the mercy of the chefs and attendants. They will ensure your culinary rail journey across the Continent is an unforgettable one.

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