Lodi Colony Market, New Delhi
Nestled in the Lodi Colony Market, Jamun has opened exactly where one of my favourite restaurants Trés used to be and that leaves it pretty big shoes to fill! The new baby in the PCO family, Jamun tries to put the spotlight on regional Indian cuisine with classic PCO style bespoke cocktails.
Now, when you walk into the space minus the false ceilings and a snazzy bar, one side of the restaurant tries to recreate the feeling of sitting in an European-esque cafe with large windows, bougainvillea and a thatched semi roof while the opposite wall has swaths of pretty purple (ode to the name). Attention to detail is apparent from the traditional Ikat Kurtas the servers don to the brass cutlery.
The place has a happy vibe and sets you up to expect a slightly more high-end version of the nearby cafe Lota.
Unfortunately, the key ingredient is what fails Jamun and that is its gastronomy.
A highly comprehensive menu with well-written descriptions only escalates one’s expectations but it is all sizzle and no steak. Having heard mixed reviews from friends before, I tried to be as impartial and optimistic as possible but even then, the food failed to leave an impression.
The tiny grater with rocks of pink salt, followed by the chutney Charlie (A platter of five chutneys where two were too fruity, two reeked of mustard and last one being plain green), a basket of assorted Papads (not bad but the Sabudana ones were inedible) raised my expectations to fall miserably when the appetisers and mains were served.
We started with the Mutton Ghee Roast that had huge mutton chunks, which didn’t quite soak in the flavours of the gravy that was heavy on tomatoes.
Next was Chicken 69 for which I was particularly excited since I love anything fried, especially chicken! Unfortunately, the spices used lacked zest and the dish was quite a downer.
For the mains, I chose Laal Maas since I had been meaning to find decent Laal Maas in Delhi. In fact, I haven’t found Laal Maas in Delhi at all. Even though the description for the Laal Maas was identical to the Telangana Mutton Curry (still can’t figure out if they meant it or it was a typo), I hoped its taste would redeem the meal and my experience.
The Laal Maas looked like any ordinary mutton curry but tasted far from it. My palate received bitterness in large quantities. In fact, it felt something was burnt that caused all the bitterness but it didn’t appear burnt. It wasn’t even spicy and couldn’t even pass as mutton curry because of the acrid taste. Now, here’s where good service could’ve turned this place around. Once I informed the server of this succulent lamb dish with a singular flavour, he immediately started explaining the dish and told me how I’m not being able to understand the smoky undertones that a good Laal Maas should possess.
After a five-minute dialogue with the server, where I explained him that I am aware of how the Laal Maas should taste and this isn’t even remotely close, he finally gave in and sent us their signature dessert as an apology.
My friend ordered the Chicken Stew with Appams. The Stew was just about okay but the Appams were nice and fluffy and the garlic naan was just how I like it! I won’t comment on the Jamun Kulfi since I didn’t pay for it! The menu extensively tries to cover many regions but at the end of the day takes you back to the old adage ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none!’ Therefore, even though Rajasthani Bajre ki Khichdi is jostling for space with Nadru Yakhni, you don’t particularly end up enjoying anything.
Another thing I noticed was how out of sync the bar menu was with the rest of the establishment, right from the lovely crystal barware that didn’t fit right with the rustic brass water glasses and all the pretty drinks. Next time, you’re around the area and don’t want to drive to Vasant Kunj for good cocktails, probably head here but you can easily pass on the food!