Ophelia in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a young noblewoman from Denmark, the potential wife of Prince Hamlet, who, due to Hamlet’s actions, ends up in a state of madness that ultimately leads to her drowning. But there’s no such drama at Ophelia, the new tapas bar at The Ashok in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi.
The iconic building commissioned by the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in the ’50s to host a UNESCO conference, The Ashok now draws people, sometimes for nostalgia and sometimes for government events. Whether three-month-old Ophelia will change any of that remains to be seen.
As one enters the hotel’s lobby and asks the staff for directions to the new restaurant, they appear clueless to its existence. After some walking around in the premises, one finds it tucked in a secluded corner outside the main building. It’s a standalone restaurant located in a large and leafy spot, where music plays till past midnight. Restaurateur Akshay Anand of Toy Room fame has opened the opulent place, which harks back to the Shakespearean era in bits and pieces.
Once you get past the bouncers, you find yourself in a garden area, with gazebos, open flames and mood lighting. This deck is loud, replete with the young and old, busy nursing cocktails and sheeshas. In contrast to the deck’s playful vibe, the indoor reeks elegance and opulence — crystal chandeliers, wooden paneling, artwork, mirror displays, Victorian-style ceiling and marble flooring.
The menu here is an interplay of offerings by Indian chef Amit Singh and Turkish chef Ahmet Algan. Starting with warm soups like Tomato Consomme and Chicken Veloute to fresh salads like Prawn Avocado Grape Salad and Crusty Mushroom Caps with spinach stuffing & enoki salad, the European offerings are at par with most Med-European fine-diners in the city. The mains include Beetroot Risotto (with confit beetroot, mascarpone and crackers) and Classic Vegetarian Pizza (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil with extra virgin olive oil).
The must-try in the Turkish menu are the popular mezze platters. The vegetarian one has falafel, paneer shashlik and grilled broccoli, while the latter has parsley and garlic fish, lamb Adana, and chicken and cheese adana. Both can be shared by two/ three people. However, what makes Ophelia stand out is its rich use of ingredients and lavish portion sizes. But it’s the cocktails that put an end to all Hamletian dilemmas — to be or not to be. Flowery Ophelia is chamomile-infused tequila with maple syrup and lime, while The Gold Lust is gold rum infused with elderflower syrup and kaffir lime. The ode to Shakespeare is also evident in the jasmine gin cocktail, The Hamlet, served in a flask, and buried between a leatherbound copy of its namesake book.
Ophelia may not be a place where one will go back for the food, but it is likely to cement its place as the new hangout in the heart of Delhi.
Meal for Two: Rs 2,500
Address: The Ashok, Chanakyapuri
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