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Sevilla is a good example of that old saying: if you want to hide something, keep it in plain sight. Most people who live in Delhi are aware that Claridges Hotel exists, a rare non-chain, five-star property in Lutyen's Delhi. Some of us may also know that, for some years now, Claridges has run a partly-al fresco restaurant called Sevilla.
But what nobody seems to know is how good it is!
Partly this is the hotel’s own fault. It intended Sevilla to be a cheerful but elegant Spanish restaurant (hence the name) with tapas and a few main courses. Then the usual doubts crept in and they threw everything on the menu from Wagyu steak to pizzas.
I went back again recently and decided to stick with the Spanish. And I had a terrific meal.
Perhaps because I was so critical of the decision to go the pizza route, they sent out a pizza bianca with truffles as an amuse bouche. It was surprisingly good.
Then, the tapas started flowing: ham croquettes that were crisp outside and meltingly porky inside, grilled lamb chops, prawns with chorizo, excellent jamon Iberico (Spanish ham) and much more. The patatas bravas, a tapas standard, was the only dish that did not work because the potatoes were not crispy enough. But on the plus side, the chef sent out some local peppers sautéed in olive oil which were delicious. (Although they are not on the menu, they should be!)
I didn’t even get around to most of the main courses because the tapas were so outstanding but the one bowl I had of a seafood paella was impressive: moist and comforting with a crust at the bottom. I’ve had the steaks before and I know the kitchen is good with grilled meats so that, I assume, we can take as a given.
The food quality at Sevilla has always been good but since Claridges hired Chef Anshul Dhyani who spent a decade in England cooking with such celebrated chefs as Michael Caines (no, not Alfred the Cockney butler), it has got even better.
But even if the food was not so terrific, Sevilla is worth it for the ambience. It has open areas lit by flaming torches and cosy little rooms with old-style fireplaces. We went in a group of four but I imagine it would be perfect for a romantic evening.
It is advisable to book in the winter when hotel occupancies are high. But do give it a try.
Vir Sanghvi is India's best-known food writer and TV host. His book, Rude Food won the Cointreau Award for Best Food Literature book in the world and his food and travel shows on channels such as TLC and NDTV Good Times have won numerous awards and continue to be watched by millions.