Chef Michael Swamy is a Cordon Bleu-trained patissier and author of an award-winning book on East Indian cuisine. He’s also a man of roving interests. When he decided to open a new restaurant in Delhi, he picked the cuisine of an even more faraway land: South America.
The nuevo kid on the Sangam Complex block is spread across two floors: a lounge isn’t open yet; the dining floor on the upper level resembles an upscale New York steakhouse with sumptuous art deco accents. The music, Latin and not-too-loud, makes us long for season three of Narcos.
Too Little, Too Plate
After peru-sing the menu for a few minutes, we order two appetizers, two mains and salad for a party of two. No worries, alpaca doggy bag or two, right? Wrong. The portions are quite pequeña, but every dish is gorgeous, plated and decorated perfectly.
Shrimp ceviche is refreshing and tangy; a slight excess of lemon and spices makes us think of summer and shikanji, in a mostly good way. Sesame-crusted tuna, on the other hand, we will seek to forget: the nigiri-style appetizer is a pale shade of pink that makes it look half-thawed, and it tastes only a smidgen better than it looks. The knockout of round one is ‘aqua en nube,’ a mixed greens and wild rice salad with - hold your breath - a paneer mousse. The salad purports to be inspired by clouds, and the humble paneer, instead of raining on the parade, is the highlight of this elegant dish. Who knew it only had to be whipped into submission?
The knockout of round one is ‘aqua en nube,’ a mixed greens and wild rice salad with - hold your breath - a paneer mousse.
Quinoa Be Honest?
We would have bet all our money on pan-grilled pork belly with a vindaloo glaze being the star of the menu - given the chef’s East Indian roots, and well, it’s slow-cooked pork belly - and we would have gone belly up. The vindaloo reduction is excellent and the pork is flavourful, but a little underwhelming, nonetheless. The words sous vide conjure images of melt-in-the-mouth goodness; but the pork belly is a wee bit drier than we’d like.
It is ‘trucha a la plancha’ that is troutstanding: the Himalayan fish is pan-fried in a spicy chimichurri sauce and arrives in a bed of hearty couscous. This is great comfort food, crisp outside, flaky and tender on the inside. Quinoa pudding, which we order after summoning hidden reserves of appetite, is a fantastic end to our meal. Two kinds of quinoa cooked with saffron and chocolate and topped with ginger-flavoured dulce de leche - it’s as if our favourite Old Delhi kheer became hip and went on a new-age quinoa diet.
At these prices we are less forgiving of uneven meals, but in spite of some inconsistencies, Nuevo is a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. We look forward to what the two-week-old kitchen dishes out when it’s less nuevo.
Getting there: Nueva, Ground Floor, Sangam Complex. A meal for two will cost upwards of 3500.
Accessibility: Sangam Complex has elevator access to all floors.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
This review was contributed by Amrita Mahale, a former rocket scientist working on her first novel.
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