I am not a food critic as many readers already know. I am passionate about the kitchen process and raw materials. While in India I asked some upscale friends about Leela Palace, a hotel in the embassy district of Delhi.
You’ll hear mixed reviews about Le Cirque but there isn’t another show in town quite like it. The chef is native Italian from Bologna, he is young, energetic, passionate and he seems invaluable to the operation. Having lived in Bali for many years, and good number of years in Tokyo he has the eye for clients, and good sense of kitchen.
We talked with Chef Diego Martinelli about his kitchen and challenges and he has many that he overcomes with a smile, he’s a chef with a good Asian balance. The pollution in Delhi is frankly put insane and if you listen to Diego you won’t be surprised to listen to his zen way of approaching the issues. He is sincere and skillful, you need to have a thick skin to work in India. The manpower is very different to other places and the team there seemed excellent. Indian service is sometimes a little off, very friendly and unless you are used to it, it can be a little annoying. At Le Cirque the team is amazing and the staff are professional and accommodating.
We never officially ate a full menu at Le Cirque but we were twice in the restaurant, either just before it was closing, or before it was opening to have something to eat. The food was excellent, the white truffle very good, and presentation excellent. Some would argue that we were over excited about tasting a good standard of Italian cooking in a city where western food is not readily available at this level.
The ravioli has intense aromas and I discussed the sauce with the chef which is a classically prepared intense brodo reduction with some parmesan cheese and some lard added to give more flavour.
The San Daniele sliced on a Berkel was really just perfect and the quality as good as I’ve tasted outside of Italy.
I would normally avoid Le Cirque after having tried it in New York, but if in Delhi it is a must stop in for a drink, a taste, or a refreshing chat with Diego.
The Leela Palace, Chanakyapuri, Diplomatic Enclave Delhi 110023
T: +91 11 3933 1390