Pizza Express Delhi vs Pizza Express London

It’s raining Pizzas in Delhi and how! Last month Skeets visited Indigo Delhi, then came Tonino and Pizza Express. The buck stops at Pizza Express for Skeets as they make another foray to the Pizza market in Delhi. 
It is one hell of a task for Skeets to write about Pizzas as she is extremely biased towards orginal/classic Margherita pizzas. There’s no looking beyond for her. But she shall try. Skeeter’s first tryst with Pizza Express was in London and that was an overwhelming experience. So, she was looking at a repeat experience at Pizza Express, Delhi, very reluctantly. 

Live kitchen and some take away boxes

The signature dough balls (Rs 165) were mopped up with garlic butter and this, Skeets must warn is an addictive combo at Pizza Express. One can opt for the dough balls with a trio of dips and a larger portion. Skeets then proceeded for the Bruschetta Con Funghi (Rs 385) which was a mini meal in itself. The golden bread was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and came topped with baked button mushrooms, bechamel sauce, red onion, chopped parsley and a drizzle of balsamic. Pizza Express has loads of salads on offer but Skeets skipped them to do justice to Pizzas and dessert.
(Left: Dough balls and garlic butter. Right:Bruschetta Con Funghi )

The Pizza tossing spectacle at Pizza Express, Delhi

(Left:Proofing of the dough at Pizza Express, India. Right: Pizza base with tomato sauce from Parma )

The Giardiniera Pizza (classic base) is topped with mushrooms, mozzarella, leeks, cherry tomatoes, artichokes and olives on a tomato and pesto base drizzled with fragrant garlic oil and comes at Rs 510. The Pizza Express classic base has its own fan following but if one wants they can upgrade it to the thinner, crispier Romana base for Rs 100. Extra toppings for any pizza come at Rs 45 a pop; choose from char grilled veggies, eggs, sweet peppadew among others. There are some non-veg toppings available too but that was not Skeets’ area of interest. Skeets moved on to the Padana pizza (RS 595) on a Romana base. It came topped with Goat’s cheese, mozzarella, spinach, caramelised onions and a drizzle of garlic oil. This sublime Pizza was Skeeter’s personal favourite and she recommends you must try the Padana at Pizza Express. Oh and do drizzle some extra garlic oil for enhanced flavour.

 Padana pizza on Romana base

On to desserts, Skeets is happy to report that the Pizza Express Cheesecake did not fail her. The baked vanilla cheesecake (Rs 295) is served with your pick of cream, gelato or mascarpone cheese and fruit coulis on the side. It did justice to the chain and lived up to Skeeter’s expectations. There are a few other desserts and Dolcetti on the menu, but Pizza Express is all about classics for Skeeter.

Baked Vanilla Cheesecake with mascarpone and fruit coulis

London vs Delhi

The few branches of Pizza Express in London that Skeeter likes are the Bromley and Bloomsbury ones. The ambience of Pizza Express, Delhi is pleasant and inviting with comfortable seating. The decor of every Pizza Express branch represents something from the area in which they open shop. This one has painted plates on the wall to represent ceramic pottery of the area. There is a splendid rooftop seating coming up soon too and the liquor license is awaited.
The wait staff are very well trained. Full marks for that! The menu in London is a little more elaborate with a few extras in each section. Am sure the Pizza Express, India people will up their game with time and add more from the London favourites.
The Pizza standards are up to the mark as there is a taste tester who is flown from London for quality maintenance. The tomatoes comes from a region near Parma in Italy, a tradition being maintained by the chain since 1965.
There was a drizzle of cream that dressed the Cheesecake at the London branches. Skeets prays the Pizza Express at Delhi incorporate that and make Skeety happy.

A meal at Pizza Express would be approximately Rs 2000 for two people. A must try Pizzeria, this.

Guppy by Ai: talk of the town

To eat a different cuisine, and that, to a heartful doesn’t happen very often. It happened at Guppy by Ai. Chef Vaibhav Bhargava and manager Gulzar, our hosts for the evening explained that at Guppy by Ai they serve their take on traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine with slight modifications to suit the Indian palate. The new menu, he goes on to explain, was a result of old favourites from Ai and the innumerable food tastings that happened at the restaurant before they opened doors to public. No wonder their menu is full of wonderful gastronomical surprises for the vegetarian taste buds. Skeeter for sure will be seen eating there more often. Chef Vikram Khatri who heads the kitchen was unfortunately not present on the night Skeeter visited.

Guppy is already the talk of the town as Skeeter spotted the who’s who of town on the night of her visit. Chilli garlic flavoured edamame kicked off our evening. The edamame bean pods are usually boiled and salted but the Chilli garlic rendition of Guppy by Ai lent it a different note altogether. A must try. Next, came, a very fresh Guppy house salad with Zucchini ribbons, carrot ribbons, thin slivers of beet, bamboo shoot, bits of broccoli and palm heart tossed in karashi mustard, finished with a sprinkle a roast sesame seeds.
Rice paper vegetable rolls which had shredded vegetables and lettuce, wrapped in rice paper followed with yuzu kosho sesame sauce. The presentation was what fascinated Skeeter. Caramalised onion slivers plated in a way that they looked like a leaf! Ask for the Rice paper vegetable rolls and the house salad if you are particularly watching your weight. Anyone who indulges in the Sushi is not vegetarian debate, MUST try the tempura Sushi here and decide for themselves. There is a Sushi counter in the dining area where you can watch all the action live.

Chilli lime dressed Agedashi Tofu was the next to have Skeeter floored. Agedashi Tofu is traditionally served after it is cut into cubes, dusted with cornstarch and deep fried. It is then served placed on hot broth. This one had a tangy chilli lime dressing and a little salsa on the top and was served aka oroshi (a Japanese radish condiment) and dashi sauce. I’ve had better versions of the Miso soup elsewhere about but the Crisp vegetable Harumaki was a relevation: Baked filo pastry with a stuffing of shredded vegetables. Crisp on the outside with tender, flavourful vegetables inside; this top notch dish was presented strewn with pearl-like corn. It can be served fried also, if one requests (but I wonder who’d do that and why?). Impeccable plating clubbed with outstanding flavours. A winner, this. The presentation of all the food we had matched the equally delightful decor. Origami paper used as lampshades, metal lion fish lights, Japanese dolls and other Japanese artefacts placed all over the restaurant showcase the effort put in for doing up the place.

The rock corn tempura stole Skeeter’s heart. It was served with a Sriracha spiced mayo that teased the tongue gently. The Teriyaki glazed artichoke and Tofu set made a good pair with the garlic fried rice which Skeety really enjoyed. End your meal with a Yuzu lemon cheese cake which has a splendid Kaffir lime glaze on top of it, or opt for a warm carrot cake with a cream cheese drizzle. The warm carrot cake was ethereal. Served at an excellent temperature, this sublime cake was spiced with cinnamon and was a great finish to a phenomenal meal.

I’ve also had people sing praises about Guppy by Ai’s gorgeous Black Cod plated on a hot stone, the Ramen that is served in a broth that take 72 hours to prepare and excellent Pork Belly. But more about that later.
Address- 28, Main Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi
Timings: 12 to 3.30 and 7pm to 1am
Lunch for two w/o alcohol: 1500 ++
Dinner  for two w/o alcohol: 2000 ++
For Reservation – 01124690005/6, +919650185005

Delhi with a view

Skeeter’s dream Delhi house would have a lot of natural light, a lot of greens (with maybe a patch of thicket) and a patch of an organic kitchen garden. The kitchen garden would overlook a pebbled path with some bright garden umbrellas planted here and there for a nature-packed cuppa in the morning, a glorius lunch in the afternoon and a humble bar-be-que at night. While all that may be a little far-fetched to call hers forever, Skeeter does sometimes hop, skip and jump to Lodi -The Garden Restaurant for a meal. Last Saturday, was one such occasion.

A welcome shot of the seasonal mango panna perked Skeeter up as she flipped the pages of the menu. In no mood for a particularly heavy meal, Skeeter began with the Lodi greek salad with a lemon dressing (Rs 395). A salad can only be right (crisp and fresh) or wrong (overdressed and wilted) and this one was right. The salad portion was big with lettuce, bell peppers, assorted olives and some feta thrown in and tossed with a lemon dressing. Skeets went on to have the Mezze platter (Rs 595) instead of a full fledged main course and was happy with her order. The Mezze came in an oval dish with fresh pita, hummus (a perfect blend of flavours), tzatziki (fresh and creamy) and baba ghanouj (just the right texture). Different preparations of the falafel always intrigue Skeeter. Some are too dry but taste good, some are soft and fluffy. The one at Lodi was shaped a tad different and took Skeeter back to the kuchas of Chandni Chowk where she has some of the best kalmi vadas (more on that later). The falafel tasted somewhat like the kalmi vadas and the texture was nice (neither too soft nor too hard). The accompanying spanakopita was nice and crisp on the outside, tender and bursting with flavour inside. 
Next came the dessert platter (yes a full dessert platter with a slice each of the sinful array of desserts). Skeeter picked the mango cheesecake. The cheesecake was nice in texture albeit a tad less flavourful, or so thought Skeeter. 
Dessert usually ends a meal, but Skeeter couldn’t leave without sampling some of the products Lodi stocks at their Deli. The onion jam was deelish. A must buy, especially when you lead a hectic life and would want to save yourself all the trouble and labour that goes into making it. Skeeter, of course, makes it at home and it is a big hit. Also, try their organic mustard oil (Rs 200). Skeeter had been looking for the same for a while and found it here. Apart from these there are some pates, dips, pickles, preserves, flavoured oils and salad dressings to choose from. Skeeter has heard that much of the food you eat at Lodi, is grown at the farms owned by them and is organic. The mangoes used in the cheesecake were organic as well. That the tribe of restaurants in Delhi is slowly but steadily moving towards Organic, is a sign of good food returning to our tables. 

And the last word: do try out the carefully crafted breakfast menu (popular among with expats in Delhi and backpackers on a stopover). They have some interesting tea blends, coffees, buttermilk, juices, jams, porridge, waffles, pancakes, muesli et al. 
(P.S. Though I am a patron of Lodi, I was invited by the team on this particular visit.)

Spaghetti has a House

Skeets was eyeing Spaghetti House (like she eyes so many other places), since the few times that she went past it. And while she was on the Open Bus Tour of London and was hungry like crazy she RAN to Spaghetti House before anyone could stop her. The Little One was accompanying her 🙂 Rare moments those.
The Little One and Skeety have varied choices. The Little One mostly plays it safe while Skeety experiments.
So, this time round, they ordered two dishes, one each to suit both tastes. There was no time for a full course meal, so only the main course and drinks (soft) were ordered.
The Little One ordered a stone-oven baked Margherita Pizza (Le Pizze Stone) and Skeets ordered Formaggi (Italian Cheese platter).

The Pizza was a simple yet flavourful treat. It made Skeets wonder yet again, that why do people prefer to top this delicacy with so many vegetables and season it with Paprikas and Oreganos of the world. Skeety’s take: Keep it simple, enjoy the cheese, the crust and the flavour of the wood (that it has absorbed ) in which it has been baked. Simple sins are what her gourmet senses protest earnestly for (most of the times).

So much for the slice.
Now Formaggi.
The Formaggi was something The Little One laughed at. Gorgonzola, Bella Paese, Provolone cheese served along with biscuits/crackers. Not the Little One’s cuppa T you know…

Now the Formaggi tasting notes:

Gorgonzola – The soft blue-veined cheese (texture may vary to be crumbly as well). Skeets does not like this one in its solid form, she prefers it in spaghetti and the likes…
Bella Paese/Bel Paese – A semi-soft cheese which went good with the biscuits/crackers…The word means “a beautiful country” (in Italian)
Provolone – A hard, slightly pungent cheese…best had with wine.

The meal ended with a cup of Illy Coffee with Italian raw cane sugar added to it. Perfect cuppa!
Service was prompt but the staff were not very attentive.

66 Haymarket SW1Y 4RF
Tel: 020 7839 3641
(Near Cupid’s bow)
Nearest tube staton: Piccadilly

Rude Food – A Matter of Taste

Not much has been happening on the food front. The daily diet of Miss Skeeter is becoming rather boring. She just eats what she gets to lay her hands on. Not good! Perhaps she is not feeling very well. Nevertheless she shall bounce back. She plans to make a conscious change in her dietary intake.
Meanwhile, Miss Skeeter visited this restaurant named Urban Pind in GK-1,N-block. She ordered some Pizza which had four different kinds of cheese on it. She did not like it much. Though she did relish her ‘Pink Panther’. The weather was awesome as it was raining! So overall the visit to Urban Pind was not bad. Miss Skeeter happened to have two days off in a row which is a rare happening. She enjoyed to the fullest!
A Matter of Taste: She watched the first episode of the seven-part series of ‘A Matter of Taste’ hosted by Mr.Vir Sanghvi. As expected, the show was awesome! Mr.Sanghvi explored how the Indo-Chinese food came into being. He also formally agreed to accept the Indo-Chinese food as a separate cuisine. This indeed was a big step.
Next Sunday 8.30pm on Travel and Living, he would explore the Sino-Ludhianvi cuisine. Skeets looks forward to that, and all the other episodes and hopes she gets to watch them all 😀 And for all food bloggers the show is a MUST WATCH!