Celebrating Delhi winters a la Francais at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mehrauli

This story was originally published in TravelDine India by Vernika Awal.

There is a new French menu at one of the most recognised fine dining names in Delhi. Dining on Olive Bar & Kitchen‘s winter menu will also surround you with fuzzy feeling of warmth amid Delhi’s cold wave.

It is mid-week evening when I head out to Olive Bar & Kitchen’s, and anyone will tell you that the evening hours are among the worst to take a cross-state drive around Delhi. Generally, even those being chauffeured are left flustered by such a drive. Once you reach Olive Bar & Kitchen’s signature blue doors, though, the vibe suddenly changes.

The Qutub Minar area in Mehrauli has always been a darling of the high-street party goers and fine dine revellers. Olive, as it is popularly known, even amid this high-street outlay, stands out for its sheer legacy in European, new-age fine dining approach.

This approach has been given a seasonal spin for the coming days, with Olive’s new winter menu matching the spirit of the season. But before we delve into what the menu offers, a quick detour.

The season for the outdoors

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The courtyard/outdoor seating area at Olive Bar & Kitchen is the most sought after by the diners. Image: Olive Bar & Kitchen.

You see, the best way to enjoy the Grecian decor and layout of Olive is in its outdoor seating area. This is not just because of the weather. Put simply, an evening outdoor at Olive is a sheer vibe to match, an elixir to lift your spirits this season.

It is the place where you catch a word with a fellow diner and enjoy the hundreds of tiny, warm LED lights that twinkle as if like a patch of shrubs buzzing with fireflies in distant hinterland. Yet, there is ample familiarity, cosiness and warmth at Olive —adding a layer of comfort that very few things can give you. Think of a rich, rum-soaked plum cake to celebrate Christmas.

But the winter menu itself is worth much, much more.

What the winter menu stands for

“This special menu is inspired by a holiday in France,” says Chef Dhruv Oberoi, head chef at Olive, Qutub. The natural question that follows is what does one eat during a winter holiday in France?

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One of the highlight dishes from the winter menu at Olive Bar and Kitchen is the Truffled Dauphinoise, where the sweetness of the sweet potato is contrasted by the sharpness of the garlic salsa. Image: Olive Bar & Kitchen.

The answer, at Olive, includes dishes such as the Truffled Dauphinoise — a terrific medley of crisps, a garlic-ridden salsa, and the smoothness of cream. You also get classics such as a Mille Feuille, stuffed with chicken liver. For mains, you have a vegetarian take on a Wellington (with celeriac), along with classics such as poached lobster tail (ask for Lobster al’ Americaine), or glazed duck leg and breast (ask for the Duck a’ la Berries).

Dauphinoise is one of the highlights of the menu, and has all the makings of a bestseller. It has a crispiness and sweetness inherent in sweet potato, contrasted by the sharpness of the garlic-led salsa. The dish is light, yet incredibly savoury and almost as neat as a piece of art – just what you’d expect from a French appetiser.

And then, you go down memory lane with the whole-hearted desserts, among them a a full-bodied presence of warm, fuzzy chocolate (ask for the Pistachio Financier). The latter, in fact, shows you that despite being a festive French dessert, one doesn’t need it to be anything beyond simple and old-school to be treasured.

All of this is paired with Christmas-special cocktails, from Mistletoe Gin and Tonic made with infused Bombay Sapphire, to ‘Cin-apple’ that fills you with warmth a la toddy, but with the hit of sour and sweetness of apples.

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Truffle Mantis, a treat to the palate, are dumplings stuffed with sour cream cheese and served over chilli tempered labneh and sunchoke chips. Image: Olive Bar & Kitchen.

Chef Oberoi, too, adds some of his own favourites. “The classic Crepe Suzette has been done in a savoury way — filled with pulled pork, with a glaze of all things citrus,” he says. This underlines how the French winter special fits into the Greco-European offerings at Olive — subtle, stand-out, yet not repetitive.

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Chef Dhruv Oberoi, the man behind the delectable food at Olive Bar & Kitchen. Image: Olive Bar & Kitchen.

Atop this, you have the best of Olive’s menus open to you. But, it’s not the menu that you focus on. Inadvertently, your mind sways to the ambiance that you’re surrounded with, and the elegance of the entire experience.

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A rather simple dessert, Pistachio Financier tugs at your heart and spells comfort with each bite. Image: Olive Bar & Kitchen.

Even without being bespoke, Olive at Qutub, especially with its French winter special, feels like haute couture. There are plenty of options down the Mehrauli high street that may offer you just as much pizzazz, but there’s something about the twinkle of Olive’s outdoor courtyard on a winter evening that you just wouldn’t want to swap for anywhere else.

We recommend: Truffled Dauphinoise, Truffle Mantis, Chicken Liver Mille Feuille

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