Thursday November 15, 2018
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A food trail to Niche Lounge and Bistro

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New Delhi: In today’s age where the fine dining restro-lounges face tough competition to survive in a sea of plenty, we find one such lounge and bistro which stands out in the crowd. The Niche Lounge and Bistro scores full in terms of food, presentation and ambiance.

Here the cocktails are served in perfume bottles and the food is a breath of fresh air.

Located in the outer circle of Connaught Place, opposite the Statesman building, Niche is spread across two floors, including an al fresco dining area. The indoor-seating area has stylish interiors dominated with plush leather upholstery and panelling on walls. It also boasts of a stage for performance, a 20-seater Long Island-style bar and a cigar corner.

The menu is quite restricted, not offering an array of dishes like a lot of other places where customers get so confused that they end up ordering just a pasta or a pizza.

“Our aim is to make people taste everything that we have to offer. Our menu is limited, the portions are small and reasonably priced. We want to promote a culture of consuming three starters, four mains and a dessert between two people,” Assistant General Manager Matthew Radalj told reporters.

Niche is also big on its signature cocktails which are presented in things like a perfume bottle and the inside of a book, priced at Rs. 1,000 each.

“The pricing of our signature cocktails is a little high compared to the classic cocktails since we try and make as many ingredients in-house as possible since a lot of the things that go into producing a cocktail – like tobacco liqueur – are not available in India. So, we have taken a culinary approach to the drinks, producing the flavours ourselves,” said Radalj, who takes care of the bar.

Asked about its many competitors in the area, Radalj said: “We want the dining experience to be a memorable one and not having to leave unsatisfied after eating the same regular things.”

To begin with, we were served two of the signature cocktails; Daisy – a chamomile tequila based drink served in a Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume bottle. This drink does look very pretty especially to someone who loves perfumes but the taste is just the opposite. It is a very strong drink, a little towards the bitter side due to the addition of grapefruit bitters, not recommended for people who likes sweet, flirty drinks.

The second was The Cask of Amontillado, a Hennessy V S cognac-based drink with cardamom and grapefruit bitters. It was very warm and rich, excellent for a cold winter night, sitting by the fire, gorging on a piece of rare steak. The amount of alcohol was very generous in both cocktails.

The drinks were quickly followed by the star of this entire dining experience – pulled pork spring rolls served with sweet chilli glaze. Crunchy on the outside with a juicy and generous amount of pulled pork on the inside. A definite conversation starter along with drinks.

Three dishes really stood.

The first was the French onion soup rings – creamy, rich soup served with crisp onion rings and gruyere cheese. The soup was not heavy and the rings did not have any trace of oil, very light and full of flavour.

The second dish was Malabar prawns served with dates and olive tapenade and capers.This dish was one of the finest examples of fusion food and the prawns were of the melt-in-the-mouth type.

The third dish was the smoked salmon nicoise salad with gazpacho. When it was brought to the table, it seemed like the colours of spring had arrived on a plate: the pink of the salmon, the green of the olives, the red of the cherry tomatoes and the yellow of the gazpacho. The dish could very easily be dominated by either the salmon or the gazpacho, but on the contrary, the flavours were all well-balanced and could be individually tasted.

The dishes that did not really stand out were the chili aam papd pork ribs with strawberry chips and jus. The pork was dry, not well seasoned, the strawberry jus was delicious but did not do anything for the pork.

The second was the lamb shank served in a rogan josh gravy, ginger foam and sauteed vegetables. The meat was undoubtedly very tender, and of the fall-off-the-bone type but the gravy again was a little off in terms of seasoning.

The third was the chicken breast flavoured with mace and cardamom butter and chili korma. The chicken had a little char on the top but it was bland and dry.

The last dish was a complete mind-boggler. It was the dessert, a ganache served with chocolate mousse, white chocolate shavings, mango jelly cubes and chili ice-cream which gave it a ‘kick’.

Niche’s setting with the great cocktails, sumptuous food and a fabulous location, makes it a place where dining turns into an absolute delight. (Karishma Saurabh Kalita, IANS)

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The report notes climate-related disasters are rising in the region, having a detrimental impact on agriculture.

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Four U.N. specialized agencies warn that many parts of Asia and the Pacific suffer from alarmingly high levels of malnutrition and hunger. This is the first time the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. Children’s Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization have issued a joint report, which calls for urgent action to reverse the situation.

The report finds efforts to reduce malnutrition and hunger have come to a virtual standstill in Asia and the Pacific. Unless greater effort is made to tackle this situation, it warns prospects for economic and social development in the region will be at serious risk.

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As of now, the U.N. agencies say many parts of Asia and the Pacific will not reach the U.N. sustainable goal of ending all forms of malnutrition and achieving zero hunger by 2030.

The United Nations reports 821 million people globally suffer from hunger. World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel said 62 percent of that number, or 509 million people, are in the Asia-Pacific region, with children, in particular, bearing the biggest burden.

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The report notes climate-related disasters are rising in the region, having a detrimental impact on agriculture. Loss of crops, it says, results in more hunger, more loss of nutrition and loss of livelihood.

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According to the report, climate-related losses in Asia between 2005 and 2015 amounted to a staggering $48 billion. Authors of the report say countries in the region must adapt agriculture so it’s more resilient to extreme climate events, and to mitigate the damage from climate change. (VOA)