Some places may make you sing for your supper, Auro makes you climb. Located above three stories of metal stairs, the “kitchen bar” is terraced with wide open spaces and an outdoor bar area. Stretching across one entire side of the restaurant interiors, the bar continues to hold specially steady. This is probably due to the fact that the restaurant, like so many other new establishments suffering from the same drought, doesn’t have a bar license.
The menu comprises a small selection of dishes in large print, burnished by flavours from around the country, and jumping on to the modern Indian carousel. Ornamented by banana blossoms and ingredients from the Northeast, Goa and other sun-lit places, the food options here seem bright and plentiful.
We begin the meal with a tribute (read hopeful prayer) to this winter’s holidays with some Goan Mafia Pockets apart from Bheja Fajitas and a Dhalle Chilli and Lemongrass Chicken. The last comes first, with tender smoking chunks of chicken run through with sugarcane skewers, proving just how deadly sugar can be. There is only a whisper of the Dhalle, a fiery Sikkimese chilli, in the accompanying sauce, which is rather disappointing – the chicken and roasted peanut combination works, but without the implied heat of the Dhalle, it’s a bit like a bowl of Chili without chilli. This, we are to find, is a recurring theme in at least the starters we sampled — that that certain je ne sais quoi is absent.
The mafia pockets come stuffed with masaledar medallions of tenderloin, layered between tomato and onion slices and lettuce leaves in pita bread. Again everything comes together smoothly if slightly characterlessly. By this time, we figure out what’s wrong: a scarcity of sauces. Whether it’s a chutney, glaze, raita or plain-old ketchup and mustard, the Delhi palate likes its food with some jus; that’s the one element missing. Meanwhile, perhaps to mix things up a bit, the Fajitas come enmeshed in enough masalas and peppers to start your own cookery show, incidentally wiping out the tiniest atom of that lovely coddled brain flavour.
A sigh and another perusal of the menu later, we settle for the Konkan Paella for mains and a Char Grilled Gulab Jamun with Rose Mascarpone for dessert. Finally, the goddess smiles. The Paella is a piquant mash-up of crowd favourites Goan Chorizo, calamari, prawns, anonymous fish and of course, chicken. The dessert is a char-grilled gulab jamun nestled on a cloud of cream cheese and crumble of ginger biscuits, all perched on a raft of fried vermicelli. It’s the sweets of India in a mouthful. Okay, five mouthfulls.
Meal for two: Rs 2,000 (including taxes)
Address: 31, 2nd Floor, DDA Shopping Complex, Aurobindo Place, Hauz Khas. 33105021
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