In 1939,British explorer Alistair Kensington allegedly disappeared forever from his Hauz Khas bungalow. The possible explanations to his vanishing were endless. So it is hardly surprising that when you enter Thirty Nine in Hauz Khas Village,a restaurant themed on Kensingtons days during the Raj,the possibilities of conversation seem endless. One can have intimate conversations with your significant other,sit in groups and discuss Oriental mysticism,or simply sit alone and ponder how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The restaurant is split into three levels,the lowest being decorated like a warm,dark wood panelled parlour with leather and chintz furniture,complete with a fireplace,and knick-knacks such as hour glasses and varnished cricket bats from the 30s to nurse ones colonial hangover. The second level is done up like a library with leather-bound books and more comfortable furniture,while the top-most level is the terrace,furbished with a mini bar and the essential Victorian objet dart of framed preserved butterflies. In essence,stepping into the restaurant is like stepping into the pages of an Agatha Christie novel where one can imagine Jane Marple knitting in the corner or Poirot holding a court of inquiry in the parlour. The music is the most daringly modern aspect of the restaurant,a playlist featuring the relatively rambunctious sound of musicians such as Chuck Berry.
The menu is an engaging read,featuring old Anglo-Indian favourites such as Shepherds Pie,Prawn Mango Curry and of course,the culturally transcendent Butter Chicken Masala,as well as newer characters such as Basil Fish Tikka and Harra Bharra Kebab Burger.
We decide to begin with the Blue Cheese and Yoghurt Kebab and Baked Crab Filo Pastry Samosas with a Mango Chutney,sinking into a reverie as we wait for our starters to start. Upon their arrival we acquaint ourselves with the straw-coloured crab pastry,crisp on the outside,soft and redolent with the pungent flavours of crab and curry on the inside,which is made all the more fascinating with the presence of the sweet-sour chutney. The kebab resembles a smaller,fairer shammi kebab,as befits an Anglo-Indian hybrid. The gentleness of the hung curd is nicely accented by the stronger notes of the blue cheese,making for a pleasant summer snack,especially during a sundowner.
For our mains we decide to mix tradition with innovation and so order a British Raj Captain Curried Chicken served with rice and naan and a Lava Grilled Pork Chop with Mushroom Sauce respectively. The pork chop is an excellent cut from what was evidently a particularly peppy pig,the rich flavor and firm but tender texture making us forget all about eating light in the summer. In comparison,the chicken is more subdued,a mild flavoured gravy augmented with a veritable cornucopia of raisins,which when combined with browned onions and cinnamon makes for a curry that is rather sweet on the palate. An interesting dish,though wed be more inclined to try the rest of the menu. Which we will,whenever we feel the need to exercise our little grey cells.
Meal for Two: Rs 1,800 (including taxes,excluding alcohol)
Address: T 6B,Main Market Road,Hauz Khas Village
Contact: 30146022 ext:601