I am a loyal Fio-ist. There, I said it. Just coined the term, perhaps! But then again loyalty just doesn’t come like that. Like respect, loyalty too has to be earned! I am so over the snob and arrogant ageing five star hotels in Delhi which once were associated to dine in on special occasions for the fine dining experience or even regular casual dinings. However, it saddens me to know that they are still considered to be the epitome of luxury amongst many of us Delhi-wallahs. The ignorant innocent customer has a lack of choice and with the primitive legacy and brand name of some of these hotels, ends up going to their reputed restaurants.
Frankly, I rate luxury in qualitative terms of the overall experience- from table settings, to ambiance, to plates, to cutlery, to most importantly the courteousness of the waiting staff and obviously the food, it’s temperature etc. The hospitality is lacking and definitions of fine dining just loosely hold their meaning at some of the popular five star hotels of Delhi.
Why the Indian hospitality industry is still lagging behind in the global arena is what bewilders me each time! The customer today is well travelled, well educated and has had the experience of finer dining at Michelin stars which are common in most of the touristy places abroad! Yet, the customer continues to be treated in the not –so-fine-a-way till date in India.
So for a person like me who refuses to be treated that way tries to look out for other eating out options, and it’s restaurants like Fio (using it collectively for Fio Cookhouse and Fio Country and Kitchen bar in this article) that grasp my attention. Which to be honest are marginally cost effective in comparison to five star hotels and yet provide you with good service, excellent food and a nice environment for whichever time of the day.
My loyalty for Fio started with the Fio Country and Kitchen Bar and now it continues with Fio Cookhouse, Epicuria, Nehru Place. I have never met with disappointment at any of these places.
This week’s start was with an invitation for a tasting session at the Fio Cookhouse at Epicuria, Nehru Place. I tasted Fio Cookhouse’s all new summer special menu in the lovely company of the ever charming Shagun, of Fio Cookhouse. What I like about weekdays is how the right number of people just about adds to the ambiance, something that is not too full and perfect to enjoy a good conversation. Yes, I am a fan of conversations and deep is just the way I like them! With places like Fio Cookhouse that are lit up with candles during the night are perfect for a romantic time for two! I am also a great fan of taking breaks on a Wednesday, you know, as an ode to having completed half of the week and only another half is left thereafter. Makes me feel jubilant all the time, throughout the week!
Fio Cookhouse comes up with a specially tailored season specific menu, each season. This menu also includes season special Bar Menu. The menu so far has never ceased to impress me because it is always just so perfect, and so different from the run of the mill restaurants. This I believe captivates my attention span, which then I choose to devote to Fio Cookhouse, thereby reinstating my faith in Fio Cookhouse.
Let me take you through their Summer Menu and Summer Bar Menu, and my views on the same.
A cautionary word, when you go to a place like Fio, it is better to not think about your experience in terms of the quantity of food received versus price. It is the most common grievance that I read in consumer reviews of various high end places. In fact, in my opinion, it is irrational to base your experience solely on this parameter.
The probable reason of expensive dishes that come in lesser quantity, is the ingredient that went in your dish which is more expensive or hard to come by. If this doesn’t convince you, then, well for me a place like Fio during the night is for Romantic dinners and during the day for Kitty Parties and Business Meetings, on occasions like these you don’t want to look your less elegant self wherein you can’t finish up your dishes or are at all times eating, when coming back to the point I mentioned before, you are actually there for meaningful conversations.
Also, such places treat their food as a work of art! Plating is gorgeous. This aesthetic angle in itself would make your experience more memorable. From a completely human angle, we tend to appreciate something that we have less of, more. Theoretically, I borrow from something I read somewhere, maybe you too would be able to associate with it: ‘Less portion+ High price= Divine Experience’.
To conclude, don’t we all associate huge portions with cheap places or simply put, fast food? So well, Fio, with the kind of ambiance that bowls you over and service that leaves room for enough time for people to enjoy each other’s company, in general is not that kind of a place.
Now over to the good things in life!
Lettuce Cup Spiced pulled chicken, Lychee and Gorgonzola salad Rs. 525
My tasting session started with Lettuce Cup Spiced pulled chicken, Lychee and Gorgonzola salad, and if the start is so good you can only imagine how the rest of the menu is going to be like! This is something that I loved the most.
The word Lychee in itself made the dish seem to appear to speak to me- in a language that says summer! Also, Cheese- aah the lovely Gorgonzola (Blue veined Italian cheese) that was generously used in the salad, made the dish a piece of heaven. It’s the kind of salad that you can never get enough of! I am an in and out cheese person! I love cheese. The rich bounty of fruits in summer and their clever use in dishes is marvelous.
Lettuce Cup Watermelon Bocconcini Fennel Salad Rs.525
Yum is the only word for this another salad full of watermelon and Bocconcini (Mozarella like cheese)! This comes a close second to the above mentioned salad.
Bruschetta of raw papaya and mango salsa with shredded cheese Rs.375
Ever heard of a fruity Bruschetta? It’s like a Bruschetta that went on a diet, lost weight and ended up coming dressed up in beautiful overalls! A perfect starter for all the mango lovers with a dose of papaya too! It’s something so different and so summery that it cannot be given a miss!
Grilled fish chilli lime with ginger tamarind glaze Rs.545
I really like my fish without bones. I just don’t understand the monkey business of having to get to the meat, you know, especially when I am eating out. Too much effort, that I can’t be bothered with. So when my Grilled Fish came all boneless, it was a pretty sight which slowly moved to serenade my taste buds and fill my tummy! Though it was nothing out of the ordinary or different, it was still good. If you are a fish person, then you must sample this! Oh god, I am sitting here reviewing it and trust me I am hungry right now just thinking about it! Happens to me all the time I am doing a food review and if the dish was this good!
Braised Pommery mustard bitter gourd with rigatoni & mustard cream sauce Rs. 595
The chef at Fio is rather proud of this dish, and he has a very good reason too! When he came to ask me how I liked my pasta, I told him upfront that my mother would be so proud of me that someone had finally found a way to get me to eat the Bitter Gourd, that too all of it (slowly but steadily)! An exemplary rigatoni pasta making use of Bitter Gourd that tastes absurdly good and acts as a huge complement to the rigatoni! This is an earthly dish which was cooked to perfection, and leaves you impressed with the combination, which is clearly unique and well thought!
Skillet herbed plum chicken with lemon couscous and jus Rs.795
I think the purpose of putting this in the menu is to cater to the populous chicken lovers. This is nothing that I would per se deem as innovative but I cannot write it off either! However, this dish will not be my main reason to go to Fio Cookhouse! If you are one of the experimental foodies there’s lots more on the summer menu that has to be tried if you are on the less of an appetite kinds! Nevertheless, it tastes good. So if you want something that your taste buds would recognise instantly and are previously accustomed to, something from the comfort zone, well then this is the dish to order!
Green Mango & Mulberry Cheese Cake Rs. 395
This dessert blends well with the entire scheme of things, and how dishes are placed on the summer menu. Not that out of the ordinary. The use of mangoes, in food and drinks, catches one’s attention immediately. I mean that in a good way.
And now over to the excellent excellent excellent drinks!
Chilly Summer- Vodka, fresh mangoes, pepper and Tabasco Rs.575
This one is one edgy drinky! The Chilly is deceptive, it should have been termed Chilli! It’s a spicy drink and perfect for summer! The Tabasco and pepper are the lightning bolt to this orange cloud of a drink! Mindblown!
Hot Summer Blues – tangy mix of fresh blueberry, lime and lemonade Rs.385
This is Kalakhatta in liquid form! It is divine! It is pure Indian Summer in a glass which guarantees a trip down the childhood memories, especially if you have been a fan of all those baraf ka golas!
Ice Ball Fresca fresh fruit ice balls with mint lemon and lime juice Rs. 385
Loved those fresh fruit ice balls, they just add so much color to this drink! This drink is also summery and a must try!
Cooling Tea green tea infused with Kaffir lime and passion fruit Rs385
A green tea and a delicious one at that! But not very innovative.
About the Gin Keri and Watermelon Spritz.. I gave them a pass! Why don’t you do one thing? Try them and let me know how you liked them! It is but necessary for you to go to Fio Cookhouse this summer to get the bites of the summery paradise that they have in store for you! Mr. Vineet Wadhwa has the menu at Fio Cookhouse on point, and it is a pure win win this season!
Hope you have as great an experience as me!
Keep eating and experimenting!