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  • AARUSHI JAIN

Loya - a Masterstroke in Delhi’s Fine Dine Scene

A gastronome’s experience of being unexpectedly blown over


Let’s be honest. How often do we find people enthusiastic about visiting a North Indian restaurant anymore? How often do we find 5 star hotels with their centre of attention being their Indian Restaurant? (ITC Maurya aside). Whether it is Ashoka or Imperial or Hyatt or any other luxury hotel in Delhi, they all house beautiful continental or special cuisine restaurants while their North Indian restaurants seem to be less grand, less busy, less in demand lately. And I understand. There are a lot of places people could opt to go and have Dal Makhani and Naan at. But this makes the experience of going to a fancy place for eating north indian less than desirable. But all this changes at Loya, an exquisite restaurant at Taj Palace where I can realistically picture people queueing up for, a memorable experience that deserves to be the engine that leads the train of other eateries in a hotel.


RESERVATION

I went to celebrate a family occasion to Loya on a Thursday evening so it was fairly easy to find a reservation in advance. The concierge was prompt with the booking, and there were no booking charges involved and the team at the restaurant was aware of the pre specified occasion.


INTERIORS

As an interior designer, I am always on the lookout for design inspiration but spending so much time on Pinterest comes with its cons. Most of the times I feel most things I see around me were borrowed from pictures I too have floating around somewhere in my head. But Loya was a breath of fresh air. The space was spiced with traditional touches, regional elements, Indian craftsmanship without pulling you into an alternate world. If you’ve been to The Spice Route or Bukhara, you’d be able to comprehend what I mean. Loya is eclectic in a calculated way. It has a eye catching bar, an open kitchen concealed with a big transparent glass, comfortable contemporary seating, warm lighting, welcoming walls, accented by native colours, heritage pieces, locally sourced elements giving the space a very alluring quality.


A Traditionally Styled Seating Area (Source : Author)

Loya’s Impressive and Eye Catching Bar (Source : Author)


AMBIENCE

The place was big, divided into different seating areas with different themes. While there was a big family that kind of ruined the slow going, quiet vibe to the evening, I put that on those particular guests rather than the restaurant as the place was charming and still very appealing for an intimate family dinner or a cosy date night.


SERVICE

Taj’s new brainchild might be different in its take on food, not on the sophisticated service we’ve come to expect of it. The attendants were at hand for all our needs without hovering. They were well informed about food, happy to assist with recommendations, which was kind of necessary at a place like this where the food is an experience rather than just the thing at the side of the conversations. Some of the dishes have a prepare on the table flair attached with them. We opted for one of those and the chef made it a wonderful experience. We were able to play around and get the dish customised as per us. The chef stayed around as we enjoyed the dish to ensure we were happy with it, which as per me went even a notch further in curating a pleasurable experience for the visitors.


FOOD AND MENU

I’m a big fan of watching Masterchef with my mom and we really enjoy learning more about the richness in our regional cooking techniques, flavours and ingredients. Loya is a new venture by IHCL targeted by bringing this on a platform where it can be enjoyed on a bigger stage. While Loya at Chanakyapuri is the first one, another one has opened in Bangalore and a few more I’ve heard are in the pipeline. The menu at Loya is a delight to even read. The food is focused around the lesser popular dishes from Northern India from regions like Kashmir, Punjab, the Himalayas. They use techniques such as dum, smoking, coal fires and more. The result is a beautiful medley of dishes that might seem heard of and known to you, their flavours might feel familiar to you, but the taste is nothing like what you would have had before. From the kebabs to the chaats to the dals and the desserts, everything is a different take on dishes we do have but still cannot recognise the ingredients from. As per my appetite, I did have 3 starters, 2 main courses and 3 desserts and yet I cannot go back to have a completely different set of items in every category because it was so hard to pick which ones to have, they all looked so inviting. Despite being on the side of experimental cuisines, people with all kinds of tastebuds will be able to find some dish which could become their new favourite.


If you’re looking for a unique place to have a date, or an intimate dinner, or if you just haven’t been to a fancy place in a while to eat north indian, plan a visit to Loya. Something would have to go seriously wrong for you to not come back with a noteworthy experience.

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