Warm up your winter nights with a big, fat Punjabi meal at Dhaba Estd 1986
When the shocking red designer coaster on the dinner table reads ‘Balle balle is the new cardio’ written in a happy yellow, you know you’re at a Punjabi Dhaba. Not any garden variety, but the one that is proud to proclaim its age and lineage. We are talking about Dhaba Estd 1986 Delhi, the new Punjabi specialty restaurant on Road no 12, Banjara Hills, that opened a week ago. The hotel carries forward the 30-year legacy with Delhi-based Chef Ravi Saxena at the helm.
The 1,690-sq ft restaurant gives you the bhangra vibe the moment you enter the 56-seater eatery that has music pounding from its speakers. As we almost do a little jig to Kaala Chashma, waiters in red Pathan suits and black waistcoats – who sometimes break into a flash mob when a Ranbir Kapoor number plays – usher us in. The place is a riot of colours. Blue door, teal upholstery, red cushions, walls with truck art and Indian kitsch all sing the Punjabi tune loud. Says Vinit Vimal, new project manager, “We give you a big, fat Punjabi menu.
Considering we are bringing in what the discerning Punjabis in Delhi love, it just can’t go wrong.” From their signature recipes since 1986 like the Palak Paneer Ki Seekh, Balti Meat, and the new experimental Highway Specials, the Punjabi swag is obvious. It starts at the monikers given to the lassis (they have nine kinds, `215 each) from Coconut Lassi to Gulabo (rose flavoured). Decadent and sweet, the drinks are filling, maybe a bit cloying too, depending on which stage of your meal you are at. For those who like it light, go for Ganneka Ras (faux sugarcane juice made of lemon, sugar). Their signature cocktails like Basanti (gin and cucumber drink `345) are ideal accompaniments for the rich and flavourful Amritsari Macchi and Chicken Takatak. The healthy green coriander chutney served with all the dishes makes sure you don’t go on a burp fest after the meal.Vinit’s must-have list comprises Chitta Butter Chicken made with chicken marinated with curd and spices. The meal reaches a crescendo with Dhaba De Meeta (Rabdi in Shahi Tukda and Gulab Jamun). The dessert is so rich that you wish you had skipped it, but it’s lip-smacking nevertheless. If you are on a diet, drive past this one. This highway eatery is for those with swag and love a hearty meal .
Average meal price for two: Rs 1,400 ++
— Manju Latha Kalanidhi