Circus, having recently rolled up its tent flap at South Extension, seems more inspired by cirque nouvelle than the traditional Barnum and Bailey and Ringaling Brothers’ extravagant spectacles. The lighting is sharp, the colours bright but not loud and not all over the place. The menu caters to all manner of tastes and budgets — from the old to the new and from the reasonable to the high end. Apart from paying homage to classical circus fare from around the world with chilli dogs, rolls and other street food, there is a selection of dishes from the other end of the spectrum, with grills and risottos. The drinks menu follows suit with its cocktail list, while a “Masala Gang” literally bottles up tangy carbonations, which is rather en vogue in the city right now.
We begin with staples of the big top, Chicken Wings (choose between Spicy Atomic and Schezwan) and an Amritsari Chicken Tikka Roll, as well as a Prawn and Calamari Ajillo (hey, Spain has circuses too). The Spicy Atomic Wings fly in first — crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside — just like your favourite innuendo — and smeared all over with a fiery chilli marinade which is formidable, if not exactly atomic. The roll comprises tender and creamy shredded chicken ensconsed in a soft roomali roll which manages to firmly retain its stuffing. The chicken comes entwined with flash-cooked onions and spices, and the entire melange makes for some enjoyable time. The ajillo, meaning cooked with garlic and chilli, has the shrimp and squid rings swim around syncretically in a sea of coriander-ed prawn stock. With fresh and springy performers, in a sauce that is equal parts piquant and pungent, this dish is made for gloomy weather.
For the big act, we order a Tiffin Meal of Butter Chicken Khichdi, and to contrast it, a Filet Mignon with Wasabi. Perhaps trying to compete with the dabbawallas, the khichdi hurries in first. Served in a steel tiffin, the khichdi, doused in enough ghee to depress your insurance, is accompanied by a spicy kachumber and a mixed veg raita. The khichdi is more earthy than the original — the grains are less mashed and the chicken pieces larger, and the masalas are more redolent. It’s all good though when combined with the punch of the kachumber and soothing raita. The steak could have been a tad tender, given that it’s a filet, but we can’t complain about its pairing with a powerful steak sauce, the wasabi providing a razor sharp edge. Resembling one of the sideshow acts by now (think the Fat Lady), we still plough through to dessert. The Chocolate Caramel Turtle Cake is the most caramelised thing we’ve eaten — caramel ice cream encrusted in caramel crystal shards, dollops of fudge and crushed cashews. And that’s the show, folks.
Meal for two: Rs 1,800 (excluding alcohol)
Address: D14, Third Floor, South Extension, part two.