Garam Dharam is the first restaurant inspired and co-owned by the veteran actor, Dharmendra ji.
A new restaurant in the capital always get my eye. So you see, I love calling myself a foodie. Since a lot of buzz was already doing rounds around Dharamji’s restaurant and I could not make it to the launch party despite having a bloggers invite, I could not let go the temptation of doing the food tasting at Garam Dharam on the very first weekend. We (hubby and I) wanted to experience the ‘filmy tadka’ and drink the ‘desi pavva’ and we did it in style though late in the night.
The long waiting
Trust me, Delhiites can go crazy over ‘Punjabi food’ and ‘Bollywood’ like none other in the country. I recently had a chance to see it live. You must have seen a mad rush, frenzied crowd outside a theka but never outside a chic restaurant. Go to C.P. M-16, Ground Floor, Outer Circle on a weekend and you will get to see ‘punjabi prem’ for ‘punjabi food’. Two days ago I was at C.P. again to eat at another restaurant. The crowd outside this one had outnumbered the one I had seen last week.
Blame it to the Delhi traffic, I missed my booking by 40 minutes. I wasn’t bothered until I saw a swarm of people surrounding the manager taking the bookings. When I reached out to him, he told me-‘You are late ma’am and you will have to wait for your turn. The waiting will be no less than an hour.’ The waiting time sounded hard on the ears but on the other hand it was quite exciting to see Delhi’s loves for a new eatery. Honestly, I got me more interested and I was really keen to know what was so special about ut. (Later I interacted with people around and learnt that most of them were excited because it was themed on Dharam paaji.)
If it had been some other day, I would have decided to go to another restaurant but since we had to wait for a friend whose flight was supposed to land at 12-30 in the night, we decided to wait. What I did during that time is irrelevant now but I am impatient to shout out loud that I had to wait for exactly 1 hour 40 minutes before I could step-in and see the popular movie posters of the veteran actor Dharmendra ji and click ‘dreamgirl’ etched on the un-plastered brick walls.
So first thing, if you are thinking of visiting this restaurant soon, please be there an hour before your tummy begins to growl for lunch or dinner.
Decor is rustic and builds a connect almost instantly
It was bliss to walk inside finally and by this time I was only interested in food nothing else. But when I looked around, I instantly took a liking for the ambiance and the thematic decor. Every wall had something interesting to offer. Dharam ji’s famous dialogues were enough to remind of his long run in the film industry. No less, we were transported in his era. To add to it, there were portraits of the 79-year-old actor in more than one avatar. If you make a great fan of him, you have to be here to live the virtual connect with the actor.
There isn’t a bar but a real theka inside. There was a small trunk placed inside. A dhol was hanging above a long table. The brick walls and the colorful lamps and the head lights gave a very interesting look to the interiors. I would call it one of the best themed restaurant in Delhi. This 371-square-metre space captures Bollywood’s essence and Dharamji’s name and fame elaborately and uniquely.
Food is both good and pocket friendly
Before the food, we ordered some drinks. We are teetotaler and thus our options were restricted to juice, lassi and mocktails. However I was all keen to try the much talked about ‘Pavva’. We were quick to order two each and taste all the four mocktails. ‘Veeru ki ghutti’ , ‘Parimal’s Paan Gulabo’, ‘Khatti Meethi Chulbuli’ and ‘Pyare mohan Masala nimbu’. It was all served in a desi styled bottles (banta) and not the regular tall glasses. Have a look in the picture. Parimal’s paan gulabo was best suited to my taste. Water was served in the glasses that we usually get to see at the dhabas used for chai.
Next we ordered some starters. The menu contains the name of the dishes in an easy format. The names speak up for themselves. There is a whole page called ‘Dharam ji Special’ which talks of food in filmy style (named after his films). Some of the other sections too have dishes named after his Bollywood avatars. To begin with, we ordered for Soya chaap, Tandoori Paneer Tikka and Tawa chicken. The food was not served in the usual ceramic or glass cutlery but in steel utensils. The chaap failed to excite my taste buds. Maybe because I found it too soft. The chicken-lover in me absolutely relished the tawa chicken. Hubby enjoyed the Paneer tikka. I too tasted a bite and have no qualms in declaring it was soft, juicy and nice.
Next we went for the main course. I ordered for some Hyderabadi dum biryani chicken and mutton curry. My vegetarian Hubby went for the authentic punjabi taste, Martaban Dal Makhni, Butter Roti and Tawa Arbi. I loved the non veg food and my husband enjoyed his daal-roti. Arbi was good but not very great but yes Dal was nice. Among all that I ate Mutton curry was the best. Last but not the least, you must go for the ‘meetha’ section. We loved the moong dal ka halwa. The desi ghee lived up to its wonders.
One thing I would really like to say here is that the food had less oil and carried an authentic look and flavor. Therw were no greasiness and no flowery decorations. The steel utensils gave that home-like feel in the look and the taste. Of course, I can’t comment on the whole menu because there is a large variety on the platter and I could sample only 5 percent of it. But overall, I would say if you are looking for North Indian Dhaba style food, this makes for a choice for sure. I will love to come back to try Dharamji’s special menu, the lassi in steel glass and some more lemonade in Banta bottles.
I am glad that I got a chance to visit the restaurant on the very second day, it gave me many useful observations. Thus I would love to give few suggestions.
A ‘Must do’ for the restaurant
- Have more ‘table for two’. Since they were hardly few, we had to wait for longer time. Whenever a table for four was getting vacant, it was being replaced by another ‘group of four’. Logically its fine but what happens to the two people. They can’t keep waiting till eternity.
- The restaurant really needs to ace up their manpower and services. To everyone ‘Dhaba’ sounds synonymous to quick service, here its just the opposite. The staff was not well prepared to handle the crowd. Of course I din’t have to face any delay because I stepped in too late. But I learnt this from other people and some of them told me that they had to wait for more than thirty minutes for the orders to arrive on the table.
- Lastly, the staff has to be a little responsive. They were very slow on my queries. I asked them about the dishes but they either chose not to respond or muttered something incomprehensible. However, I must say they were all very warm and cordial. Just that they need to be trained smartly.
- Ofcourse, a little more tweaking can be done on the taste of the food too based on customer feed back. As far as my view is concerned I wouldn’t say everything that I ate was great but I wasn’t disappointed with any thing.
Hope to visit it soon to see if things have improved or not. The concept and the design along with the food and location lends it the potential to be one of the most popular restaurant in Delhi.