Thriving wonderfully on seasonal menus, The Park New Delhi’s restaurant, Fire, awed us with their exclusive winter menu. Here’ s how our experience looked like. By Bayar Jain

In a bustling city such as New Delhi, especially in areas close to Connaught Place, constantly evolving for the better can be a daunting task. The Park New Delhi, however, aims to rise to the challenge, and their winter menu at Fire is a testament of that.

On entering, the restaurant, a long line of drop bulb lights dipping down from the ceiling catch my eye. The blue-tinged thread curtains on one end work wonders in drowning out the chaos of the streets, creating a calm atmosphere within the four walls almost instantly. If anything, I realise that a leisurely lunch awaits me.

On seeing the folded recycled paper menu, I get my first peek into Fire’s motto. Amit Wadhera, the Executive Chef at The Park tells me that Fire thrives on all things organic. This commitment to the environment, and of all things indigenous, resonates seamlessly into their long array of dishes listed on the ochre sheet, the first of which I try is the Zad apples and winter greens salad.

Presented to me in a bamboo basket, the striking greens pop out against the rustic browns of the plating. The crunch of the leaves, however, is what steals the show. A mix of arugula leaves and spinach interspersed with fresh apples, orange segments, and berries leave me refreshed, reflexively making me dig deeper into the plate. An accompanying puffed quinoa and sweet potato salad works as an apt precursor to the culinary journey that lies ahead. After all, when such delicious elements have teased me already, I can only guess the wonders that are yet to surprise me.

And surprised I am! A tangy kala chana and nimbu shorba is my next dish, and it’s absolutely delicious! Doubling as an appropriate response to the chilling winter winds outside, this tangy soup reminds me of home. Packed with flavour, and peppered with black chickpea softened to perfection, this soothing soup is like a warm hug for my soul.

Next up is a platter of starters, one of each kind to give me a glimpse of every dish they have to offer for this course. Multani dhingri, achaari paneer tikka, and bhutte aur khoye ki seekh are next in line to grace my table. I gulp down the multani dhingri, wasting no time waiting for the cheesy mushroom to cool down. Next, the achaari paneer tikka’s blend of spices wash over my palate, paving way for the deliciously different tastes of bhutte aur khoye ki seekh (corn and khoya kebab) to take over.

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My stomach, ready to explode by now, pleads for respite. The loving hospitality of the restaurant’s team, however, coaxes me to try a curated thali anyway. With many small bowls – consisting of sarso ka saag, panch phoron tadka, matar ka nimona with potato kofta, trio of yellow lentil with spinach shreds, and Fire’s signature tadka vegetables – neatly aligned on a silver platter, I know I’m in for a lavish meal. Paired with a bread basket and helping of rice, papad, pickle, jaggery, and white butter, each bowl is evidently crafted with love. Although each serving packs a punch vastly different from another, the panch phoron tadka stands out for me. The turnip-red colour not only stands out on the plate, but also serenades a multitude of tangy-sweet flavours, thanks to the carrots, kohlrabi, beans, and peas that swim in its finger-licking good paste-like gravy. The sarson ka saag, too, tastes fresh out of the farm, doubling as an apt ode to the Pinds of Punjab.

A meal, no matter how extravagant, is incomplete without a dessert. Naturally, then, I agreed to satiate my sweet tooth. I’m recommended the strawberry cheesecake. ‘A cheesecake at a typically North Indian restaurant?’, I think to myself rather skeptically. A dish donning red, yellows, and pink hues shush me instantly. Straying away from the usual cheesecake, this one comes paired with an angoori petha to cut through the sour of the fresh strawberry. Skillful craftsmanship, I think! For the ones looking for a more traditional touch to their desserts, they even offer a cholia and gajar ka gajrela which is equally – if not more – tasty.

A happy meal in a cosy space celebrating winter flavours – what more could I ask for?

Related: ROOH In Mehrauli Has Rolled Out A Soulful Winter Menu To Beat The Chill