Innovation must be respected, even if the final product doesn’t pass muster. There are few who do so and their spirit must be kept alive in this city of sheep. Those however, who manage to pull off a bunch of innovations, in an era when there’s so much happening to the things we eat and the way we eat them, must be accorded the modern day equivalent honor of being held aloft at arm’s length and paraded through the streets while being liberally peppered with accolades.
One such person is Chef Ashish Singh, whose mettle you can observe in the implementation of the menu at Terminus 1 at Ambiance Mall, Vasant Kunj. Full of surprises, Terminus 1 is designed with a travel theme in mind, a creative tilt you’ll notice in most elements of the restaurant, from the coasters to the wall decorations. The Terminus 1 menu is an interesting piece of work too, with enough balance within that it has something for everyone and is yet well priced so you won’t be breaking the bank.
Why is this piece sounding like a marketing brochure? Every once in a while, I come across a restaurant that I wish were located closer to my home, for the sheer awesomeness of the menu, the pricing, the ambiance and the execution. Cafe Blue Tomato was the last time I felt so and Terminus 1 is the latest. Have I mentioned Mio Sushi, a lovely little place in Greater NOIDA that does a sushi buffet right at your table?
If you go anytime soon, the first thing you’ll be treated to at Terminus 1, is a little platter of piped Thai Curry Mousse with a thin, slice of bread stuck in it – and it isn’t bad at all, quite good in fact. The next, a heartwarmingly huge basket (or was it a wooden bowl) of breads of every sort that they bake in house, accompanied by a tube, yes, a tube of butter, that Terminus 1 does in different flavors. It was after this that I began my meal, which started on a nice note with a portion of vegetarian Caesar Salad (INR 285) and was followed by a nicely done vegetarian Mezze Platter (INR 345) that included a little bowl each of Tzatziki, Tabbouleh and Hummus along with Falafel, Pita Bread and little rolls of stuffed pastry the name of which I forget – sambusak meets cigara.
It was after this that the first hard hitter of the evening arrived – Applewood smoked Chicken, Corn and Raja Mircha Chowder (285). I love all food from the North East and the mention of anything North Eastern always perks me up – I just had to eat this soup. Shredded corn gave the broth a distinctly chewy quality, which I thought was great, combined with the little chunks of chicken in there, plus (and that’s a big PLUS) the distinct bite from the Raja Mircha, that bit the back of the throat while spreading it’s signature, short-lived warmth around the inside of the mouth. The flavors in the soup, combined with the addictive effects of the Raja Mircha ensured the soup was eaten in large, chunky, delicious spoonfuls till there was nothing left. Nothing at all. If the chili or the chicken puts you off, you must try the Creamy Onion Soup with Cheese en Croute (INR 255) – if you like onions, you’ll love this one.
While I was involved with the Chowder, a Maftoul (INR 355) salad arrived. I don’t normally like couscous based dishes much, but this salad was another story. Couscous, tomatoes, dried fruits, spring onions and olives tossed with a pomegranate dressing and topped with Feta cheese, the salad dressing was balanced with just the right amount of sour to make all the other flavors perk up, not too wet, neither too dry and with the right amount of textural differentiation that made it a very interesting eat – I believe this one is a good example of the perfect salad.
A forgettable Tomato-Mushroom Arancini with Mozzarella (INR 275) later, my main course arrived – Steak au Poivre (INR 575). Accompanied by a sweet potato mash, buttered peas and sauteed vegetables, the steak was cooked using sous vide, making it my first sous vide steak. I had requested a medium-rare steak and that’s exactly what was delivered, seared on the outside, glistening with gravy and sprinkled with assorted, whole peppercorns. The steak ranged from a light to a deep pink on the inside, was moist, tender and went well with it’s companions on the platter. Personally speaking, I think I’ll opt for a grilled steak any day as opposed to the sous vide version, which I felt lacked the bounce and crust a piece of meat retains/develops on the grill. You must try it though, for your own culinary chronicles.
We finished with an unremarkable Blueberry Thyme Soup (INR 195), a chilled blend of cream and blueberries, topped with a dollop of vanilla bean infused mascarpone. The Karachi Halwa Brownie Cake (INR 195), however, which had slices of Karachi Halwa embedded within a moist brownie and topped with nuts, cream and chocolate, was an eye opened and a dessert I definitely recommend ending with.
I suggest visiting Terminus 1, not once, not twice, but as many times as it takes to try out every dish in Chef Ashish Singh’s very interesting menu, and then doing the same again with your friends.