Here at Sydney Scoop we often find ourselves in the enviable position of tasting an eatery's new menu all in the name of research for our Scoopsters. So, on the first day of winter I was out and about in Kellett Street Potts Point to do just that.
The night's invitation came from Susheel Kumar, owner of Delhi By The Way - a Potts Point restaurant showcasing North Indian street hawker dishes with a fine dining twist since 2015. The event was branded as an elegant menu tasting adventure and a chance to be immersed in Indian culture (Indian attire optional). I was intrigued and ready for a night full of different cultural and food experiences.
Upon entering the restaurant, smiling friendly staff dressed in trad Indian ware guided me and the plus one upstairs to a loft style space. Once stepping off the last step, Susheel and his wife Aditi, also dressed in beautiful Indian clothing, welcomed us with sincere Indian bon vivant. A gentle respectful hospitality exuded from Susheel and his staff. The message to make ourselves at home was received loud and clear. I quickly found a spot at the group table for me and the plus one.
Thoughtful details abounded on the table. The first thing we noticed were the regal looking sealed envelopes laid out at each place setting. They were accompanied by a printed newspaper-like place mat covered in interesting facts about Delhi which I later discovered are a usual fixture at the restaurant. A third decorative touch was a printed description of the night's theme.
Once all the guests had arrived (many had were dressed in Indian apparel), a pre-dinner musical interlude of Indian fusion soul jazz began the festivities. An array of different instruments were played by the two musicians. We sat back to enjoy a relaxing, mystical and exotic mixture of music styles.
Susheel's words of thanks and explanation about the night followed the music. He encouraged us to prepare for the culinary exploration by opening our sealed envelopes to peruse the 14 dish menu we would be taken (grouped into entrees, mains and dessert) with a glass of shiraz or pinot noir (a great fire quencher when the spices get too much).
First out to the table were the crispy vegetable and chicken samosas draped in a splash of yoghurt and contrasting sauce. Inditi was happy to tell us that in India, samosas are a breakfast favourite.
The samosas stood to attention on the plate, inviting us to admire their perfect shape. On biting into each one, our tastebuds were hit by a yummy savoury, peppery and spicy filling (without being too hot) in a delicious fried crisp pastry. A spicy kick was more prominent in the chicken variety. Consensus around the table agreed it was a perfect precursor for the four remaining entrees to be served.
I enjoyed all the entrees but of course I had some highlights. As well as the Sampras, my picks included the Aloo Tiki Chat - a delicious Indian twist on the humble baked potato. The potato had been perfectly pan fried before being covered in tasty spicy sauces, thick yoghurt and a frangrant fruity chutney. A lovely textural mix of crispy potato skin and fluffy insides contrasted well with the toppings Lahsooni Jiheenga was another big hit for me. A distinct garlic tandoor flavour wrapped itself around juicy tender prawns. A spritz of lemon juice added a zing to the subtle Tandoori spices. Everyone was wishing another plate would appear.
Between courses we were encouraged to engage in some Bollywood dancing. As I hadn't come dressed up, I decided to opt out but it was fun to watch a dance instructor teach the other guests all the moves.
The mains came out after the dancing. The dishes continued to be served in a perfect sharing size. We helped ourselves to tandoor roasted eggplant, and a goat curry that was touted as being 'hot'. Aways a little cautious of the more robust Indian curries, I was delighted to find the goat was not scary hot. Lamb cooked with baby spinach, Malibu Prawns, and butter chicken followed. All dishes were accompanied with rice and naan bread.
The goat curry was a favourite of the table. However, I was taken by the lamb. The butter chicken had a mild spicy creamy sweetness to it, and the eggplant had a lovely mellow spicy roasted tandoor flavour.
More Bollywood dancing occurred before desserts. I used this time to go exploring the main section of the restaurant downstairs. I discovered a magical private dining garden area just past the reption/bar area. Out the front were two themed rooms, as well as an outdoor area. The loft style room we were occupying also had a balcony. In all, the restaurant can seat a maximum of 80 people and is decorated in a stylish elegant way that was very welcoming and comfortable.
I returned upstairs just in time for the dessert course. Three Indian ice creams and a festive carrot dish were on offer. Of course, as desserts are my specialty I made it my mission to taste all of them.
I loved the carrot dish full of warming spices, most notably ginger. It reminded me of a deconstructed carrot cake. The mango and raisin kulfi was like a Weiss bar - all mango and creaminess that complemented the carrot dish very well. For those with an ultra sweet tooth, I would recommend the honey and pistachio kulfi with its big honey flavours. A more subtle sweetness came from the saffron and almonds kulfi.
The sweet end of the meal at Delhi By The Way was a nice surprise. All options brought a modern take to traditional Indian sweets. The ice creams in particular gave our palates an interesting change in pace.
My verdict of the night was very positive. Delhi By The Way is a restaurant that will give your tastebuds a North Indian adventure with welcoming hospitality. Susheel and his staff will definitely create an enjoyable night of feasting for you and your friends.