One of the side benefits of being a member of the Delhi Wine Club is that one gets to dine at some of the Capital's newest and most happening restaurants in Delhi. And so as part of the 5 th year celebrations of the Wine Club, some two dozen of us members met at Ivy in Friends Colony for (I just cant wait to let the cat of the bag!!) one of the more memorable wine evenings since I became a member some three years and probably fifty plus wine meetings ago.
Now, hosting a sit down wine dinner for our Club is not every restaurant's cup of tea, mind you. Apart from having the glassware to support a multi course wine menu and a kitchen geared to supply a simultaneously delivered sit down multi choice menu to our members, the key make- or- break factor is the service team that marries the wines and food courses seamlessly. Based on my experience and the comments I picked up from our members, Ivy came thru with flying colours.
As usual, the extensive wine and food menus were mailed by Subhash the day before so it was with a thirsty palate and a ravenous appetite that I arrived at Ivy – a modern venue with all white minimalist furniture not detracting at all from the long and very inviting bar.
The 7 wines for the evening were all Spanish and were in keeping with the Wine Club's philosophy of expanding our wine horizons – all were being served to us for the first time. The presence of our special guests, Mr. Gonzalo Ortiz, the Deputy Chief de Mission and Mr. Jose Antonio Bretones, the Commercial Counselor of the Spanish Embassy underscored their support for the Club.
To start with, we had the Pucela Sauvignon Blanc 2006, a young wine with a hint of apple, and a Tempranillo Rose as aperitif wines. I have always felt that a Rose wine is ideal as an aperitif during Delhi's hot weather and thankfully this was the second consecutive meeting to feature a Rose. This offering showed how versatile the Tempranillo grape is; for this cherry pink Rose was medium bodied, easy on the palate and simply delicious.
The tapas -finger food was well presented and tasty and just kept coming and coming around –but soon it was time to move upstairs to the PDR-our dinner location-one of the factors that contributed to making it an enjoyable evening as we (with the exception of a couple of members) were able to sit in a compact exclusive location where the music from the main bar was not intrusive so one could hear Subhash and the wine importer guide us through the wines.
To get the ball rolling with the Crab cakes was the Abillo 2006 – a young not too fruity white wine meant for easy drinking. Next up was our first Red of the evening – the Valduero Tintafina from Toro–a young robust character which was unfortunately put into the shade by the outstanding Lobster Bisque .We had been primed earlier that their Bisque was great. But after the excellent one at Orient Express last month where we had celebrated the first of the 5 events of 'Celebrating 5-years of Delhi Wine Club', I was a bit skeptical – only to be pleasantly surprised. The bisque was flavourful and had tons of succulent and crisp lobster morsels unlik the Express where the emphasis had been to make it creamier.
Next up with the Salads was a Rioja 2003 – an elegant and fruity wine in line with the promise of its Crianza label of a three year old wine with at least a year in oak casks. A good offset to the dressing of the Caesar's salad.
The wines just kept getting better and better with a Pucella 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon / Tempranillo blend accompanying the main course. Good concentration of flavours with light tannins and a hint of oak, this blend turned out to be especially a good match for those who ordered the Pepper steaks. I ordered the Sole cutlets as I was intrigued by the accompanying "Sourish herb sauce" and wondered if the foodie reputation of our genial fellow member Sourish Bhattacharya had preceded him! .Two of my dining partners had ordered the steak and though I did keep an eagle eye out for any signs of struggle between knife and tenderloin, there were none –so looks like Ivy's got a good supplier and a great Chef who clarified that he had indeed taken the receipe and the name from a haute cuisine restaurant in Paris.
Saving the best for last as usual was the Calderena Reserva 2001 – a dark ruby coloured smooth Tempranillo, well balanced with soft and juicy tannins. Those I spoke to after they had demolished the Molten chocolate cake, rated the Reserva as probably the outstanding wine of the evening.
I would rate this restaurant excellent for food quality, service and ambiance. It really belongs to the Ivy League of restaurants in the city. A full house on a Wednesday indicated that the Delhiites have already noticed!
So once again the Wine club scored a hit – evidenced as much by a well planned and matched food / wine menu as by the team at Ivy rising to the occasion to deliver a high quality evening. I know a lot of our members are away for their vacations but seeing the Club maintaining its high standards in terms of the overall experience delivered to its members for a evening , I would urge you all to come and support the Club in much larger numbers for future dinners–you will not be disappointed! Salud!!
Arun Batra is a management consultant, foodie and a commentator on food and wine. As he has mentioned, he has been a regular member of the Delhi Wine Club for the last three years-editor.
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