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Teasing Appetisers

The newly opened lounge bar Ink,at the revamped Tabula Rasa in Saket,restricts its food menu to Tapas plates.

The newly opened lounge bar Ink,at the revamped Tabula Rasa in Saket,restricts its food menu to Tapas plates. So you can pair your mugs of beer or virgin mojitos with Lebanese-style prawns (Rs 525) or shredded vegetables packed in crystal sheets of rice flour (Rs 395). But small plates,which were a highpoint of Tabula Rasa before the swanky makeover,have become double their size. When our order of prawns and steamed rice rolls arrived,the plates were generously decked with four portions of prawns and six steamed rice rolls.

“When we launched Tabula Rasa in 2007,Tapas was an important part of the menu. Over time,we realised that people were looking for a bit more on their plates and we decided on more bites on each plate,” says owner Sohrab Sitaram.

Tabula Rasa’s Tapas plates may have become bigger,but as Sitaram points out,the city is learning to appreciate its bite-sized foods. There are two new Tapas lounges — one at The Lodhi at Aman New Delhi and another on the second level of The Med at Radisson. Each boasts an individualistic style and firmly restricts itself to the appreciation of small plates.

The three-storey The Lodhi restaurant houses a Tapas lounge on its ground floor. Its lounge has a food counter in the centre and here,you can place your order with the chirpy chef,and even discuss a thing or two about the tiny plates as he skilfully crafts your order.

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As The Lodhi’s chef Jonay Armas Armas explains,a Tapas in Spain is essentially an aperitif that is served in a bar or restaurant along with the main course. It can be served on a toothpick or a slice of bread and comprises simple uncomplicated dishes. He will rustle up a Patatas Bravastato (Rs 200),several cubes of crispy potatoes generously layered with aioli. Take a seat at one of the tables or step on to the bar chairs that fence the food counter and you will be munching on Spinach Tortilla (Rs 300),Crispy Calamari (Rs 200),Mussels with Paprika (Rs 300) and Anchovies (Rs 200).

“The Tapas lounge is restricted to small plates and our staff is equipped to help you pair them with wines,” says Sudipto Bhattacharya,executive assistant manager,F&B. Its tiny two-page menu lists a dozen items in vegetarian and non-vegetarian which are priced at Rs 125 and Rs 155 respectively. An unlimited serving comes for Rs 1,450 (for non-vegetarian) and Rs 1,250 (for vegetarian). The menu here changes daily. There were mushroom toasts,fried artichokes,asparagus with aioli dip,lamb meatballs with fresh mint and harissa-marinated prawn skewers the day we visited. Done up in deep browns,the lounge is buttoned with sofas and coffee tables,and wine paintings cover the walls. “Tapas lounges are usually an informal area for unwinding. With pre-dinner get-togethers slowly picking up in the city,our lounge gets a remarkable footfall.”

At The Radisson MBD in Noida,a selection of Asian Tapas is on offer. “We relate this concept to Spanish food,but Asian dishes too can be recreated in small portions,” says Rajesh Variyath,executive chef,Radisson MBD,Noida. Priced between Rs 99 and Rs 150,each dish accompanies a starch component,“keeping in mind the basics of Spanish bites”. “We plan to carry on with Tapas on the menu since it has been appreciated by our customers,” he adds.

Contact:
Ink: 9910588228
Lodhi: 43633333
The Med,Radisson: 26779191

First published on: 24-07-2009 at 12:42:14 am
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