There are plenty of ‘best restaurants’ lists all over the Internet. Why do we even need one? After all, food is a choice, taste is a personal matter and budget is a big factor.
In spite of all these factors, the biggest reason for a ‘list’ is aspiration. A restaurant aspires to be on a list, and a diner aspires to eat at a restaurant on a list. A list is believable, relatable, something to work onwards. Think of it as a culinary road map. From Delhi to Mumbai, Kolkata to Chennai, with several stops along the way, we bring you a list of what we feel, are the 50 Best New Restaurants in the country. We are sure you’ve been to some, and must have heard of others. And we hope there are some surprises in store for you too. (Read about Part 1 and Part 2)
We’ve done the hard work for you. Now, it’s time for you to go taste. Happy feasting.
CUISINE: EASTERN INDIAN (INSPIRED BY THE MINING COMMUNITY)
In 2016, when Mineority By Saby opened, it was only the second gastropub of the country. It looked like one and felt like one. But where it differed from the mushrooming concept restaurants was: one, it was dedicated to the lives of miners from the Jharkhand– Bengal–Odisha belt; and two, it was one-of-the-kind in how it had a chef-created bar that served a Gin-based version of the handia (an indigenous beer of Odisha) and revived the imperial Rangoon khow suey—yes, the original one that was made by Indians in Rangoon. It also became the only restaurant to recreate chenna podo outside Odisha.
UNIQUENESS: The mine-town kind of interiors and the chef-collaborative gin bar.
When you enter Varq in the Taj Mahal, New Delhi, you can’t help but notice the priceless mural by artist Anjolie Ela Menon and the beautiful oil paintings. But look down to your plates, for art is there too. An example of classic Taj hospitality, Varq presents modern Indian gourmet food in an ethereal atmosphere. There is a timeless quality to it; shown in their organic-only ingredients, extensive wine lists and delectable kebabs.
UNIQUENESS: Their exotic tea selection would be one. They take their name quite seriously, so you will often find varq (pure metal foil sheets) used in the food.
‘Tre-forni’ is Italian for ‘three ovens’. And that is at the foundation of one of the finest Italian restaurants in Hyderabad. Put together by Chef Michele Prevedello, everything here is either hand-picked or handmade, and this includes the pizza bases, the pasta and even the bread that is serve au gratis on the table with flavoured butter. All this is made using premium ingredients sourced directly from Italy. Indeed, here’s a restaurant that is designed much like the one Chef Prevedello loves spending time in. In other words, it is like taking his diners to his home.
UNIQUENESS: The Italian alcohol collection: from 2,000 premium wines from heritage brands to a selection of Italian aperitifs, bitters, homemade limoncello, grappa, and the entire range of Italian coffee.
Vintage Asia, Kolkata
CUISINE: ASIAN WITH A LOCAL TWIST
At this restaurant in JW Marriott Kolkata, the Vintage Asia menu has undergone a welcome change under Chef Alexander Cheng’s influence of having worked in Taiwan and Indonesia. Experiments are happening and successfully so. Take the mushroom bao, for example: shaped like a real mushroom, it is filled with lotus stem, black fungus and mixed mushrooms. Another great example is the duck and litchi salad where the tangy taste blends with the earthy meat.
UNIQUENESS: Even though the focus is on Chinese and Thai food, the menu teases out global flavours from local ingredients. The ‘steam betki fillet in Chinese garlic soy sauce’ is a case in point.
CUISINE: GUJARATI, MARWARI AND MEWARI THALIS
During its eight years of existence, Tuskers has never lost an award. And the reason behind that isn’t that it is the first vegetarian restaurant in BKC Mumbai to have one of the cleverly put together whiskey bars; it has remained the king because of its ‘true to roots’ food. The only commercial kitchen till about recently to be spearheaded by a veteran Indian master chef, Maharaj Jankidas, the food is ‘true to roots’ original—and is made with recipes collected from royal households and the Thakurs.
UNIQUENESS: The interesting pairing of wines with its thalis.
Black Sheep Bistro, Goa
A one-of-its-kind ‘farm to table’ Goan bistro is quite self-explanatory. A popular spot for diners and tourist alike, the Black Sheep Bistro is most known for its take on global cuisine. The restaurant uses locally-sourced ingredients to create international soul food like the Malwani mushroom stroganoff, red Kishmoor fish fillet and seafood paella that uses local pork chorizo—deliciousness that can be drowned with some handcrafted cocktails.
UNIQUENESS: The feni cocktails here are to die for.
Sahib’s Barbeque by Ohri’s, Hyderabad
There are two ways to enjoy the food patronised by the Nizam of Hyderabad. You either venture out into the galis of Purani Haveli or stop by Ohri’s. An offering by one of the oldest hospitality brands of Hyderabad, Sahib’s Barbeque is an ode to the food culture developed by the Nizam and the Paigah dynasty, and revolves around the concept of barbecue. Most of the food served here uses the traditional tandoor and sigree in at least one of its cooking processes. Based on research done on the food habits of the last five Nizams, the food here—shikampuri kebab, libas machhi, talwar-e-kalmi, darbari jhinga and murgh Akbari kebab, jauzi halwa or dil-e-firdaus (on demand)—are made exactly the way they were eaten back then.
UNIQUENESS: The balai made in-house, taulia naan
Bob’s Bar, Bengaluru
If you ever imagined what the 50s and 60s were like in India, especially in Bengaluru, you need to head to Bob’s Bar. Located on Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Road, this casual eatery brings together the best of two worlds: original dishes, much like what your ajji would make, in a space that reminds you of Bengaluru’s pub-hop culture of the bellbottoms-era. The bonus: a small segment with playful representation of old favourites like the filter coffee cheesecake and Mysuru pak meringue. The ghee is made in-house, so are the green masala and other spices, but the highlight here is the fantastic showcase of what indigenous chillies can do.
UNIQUENESS: The generous use of charcoal cooking and the concept of half and full plate.
Royal Vega, Chennai
CUISINE: PAN-INDIAN VEGETARIAN
As one of the last restaurants conceptualised and implemented by the legendary ITC Chef Manjit Gill, Royal Vega epitomises the ‘royal’ vegetarian cuisine from India and unearths hidden gems from food cultures that are not famous for their plant-based dishes like Peshawari. Based on the age-old tradition of Ranjit Khasa, a royal banquet-style three-course meal, the menu here is written in the traditional format and changes every season, because of which the cooking style inside the temple-style kitchen also changes. Home of some of the lesser-known dishes like ganika—jasmine fragrant rice—it is India’s only restaurant to use Ayurveda teachings in curating thalis.
UNIQUENESS: The temple-style kitchen.
Pra Pra Prank, Gurugram
There is a lot that can be expected at Pra Pra Prank: a quirky ambience, mouthwatering food, an adrenaline rush and mischievous food. The first thing that draws attention is their menu—the gorgeous food photography will make you want to order everything you see. And maybe you should. The food at Pra Pra Prank often comes with quirky ingredients, so you can expect the unexpected. Their cocktails are especially yummy, often dished with some tongue-in-cheek humour.
UNIQUENESS: Their innovative cocktails; try the Early Morning Gin, a Classic Bellini or the Japanese Negroni.