Review: Set’z’ upgraded menu proves that all its seven kitchens are here to stay

setzEven if you aren’t a self-proclaimed “foodie” in Delhi, it’s hard not to have heard of Set’z. Formerly ‘Zest’, the seven-kitchen strong standalone restaurant, and safe to say, the first of its kind in the capital fast gained the title not just of the place to be seen at but also the place where one could splurge on a decent meal. While one could attribute its poncey Emporio setting for the former, the latter clearly had its roots in expert cooking. And I say “decent” still because back then, culinary alternatives were few and far between. Now of course, it’s 2014 a.k.a. the age of social media lash outs on anything from dim lighting at a diner to lack of authenticity in some place’s Sushi. But even as the reformed Delhi gourmand frantically clicks on, one new menu upgrade and Set’z is set to more than brave the heat.

Super interiors by Super Potato
Super interiors by Super Potato
Set’z has been designed by Super Potato. Period. For the uninitiated, Super Potato is an internationally acclaimed design house with the signature being contemporary elements that combine a sense of eccentricity with that of expanse. All of which can be found at Set’z.

It houses seven distinct interactive kitchens – Northern Indian, Thai, Chinese, Coastal Indian, Arabic, European and Japanese, and yet none will come in the way of a relaxed dinner experience.

Although that might have something to do with a large landscaped area at its center. And while there is no more of that moodily lit welcome its erstwhile lounge offered, the sight of a walk in wine cellar that reportedly houses more than sixteen hundred bottles, more than makes up for that dip in spirits. Especially, if like us, you’re offered a particularly sparkling one from among them!

Dim sum and Sushi me!
Dim sum and Sushi me!
Food & Drink
Our Lindeman’s brut sparkling came accompanied by a bowl of savory crisps and shortly followed by a sampler of sushi and dimsum, the former being Fujion or ‘fusion’ uramaki roll, Philadelphia roll, two glistening portions of the pounded Tuna uramaki and two of the Smoked eel roll. The latter included meaty mounds of spinach wrapped chicken in black bean sauce, succulent Corn and water chestnut as well as Sichuan prawn dim sums.

I don’t know if it was the smaller portions-greater variety trick working in our favor but having wiped our plates clean, we were left hankering for more.

This hankering subsided as soon as we shifted from bar to table and were almost instantly face to face with a rather dazzling albeit intimidating breadbasket.

Salads galore at Set’z
Salads galore at Set’z
Far from frugal when it comes to bread, they were equally generous when it came to dollops of Philadelphia cheese in our first salad. And I say ‘first’ because this mouthwatering sight that also comprised crisp Parmesan and arugula paved the way for two others- an unusual Poached prawns and melon in vanilla bean dressing and a repeat of the rocket, this time with flakes of parmesan, a bowl of vinaigrette and a schmear of balsamic reduction, with ruby beads of pomegranate that dribble out from a crusty case like pearls from a sea shell! I know what you must be thinking, that there couldn’t possibly be more to an already hedonistic evening. We thought so too then until a fourth, lotus stem-lemon grass-kaffir lime leaf-chili sauce salad appeared on our table, its sprightly flavors almost as if designed to complement the sweet chili sauce drizzled John Dory that sat next.

Toothsome sweet treats
Toothsome sweet treats
You’d think such light Asian fare would make a worthy prelude to the likes of Minced lamb gilawat (patty), Murgh seekh falaknuma, Charoli – a wild almond and spiced yoghurt preparation, Subz shahi kebab, a tweaked paneer tikka and Murgh kasuri tikka. But for us, it was the main act. The Shiraz cabernet that had replaced the Chardonnay by this time did however elevate the grand Indian gastronomical experience, which, just FYI, comes temptingly close to the traditional Lucknowi one. Or coastal if you’re counting the Kozhi chop vattichadu or tamarind glazed chicken.

It’s always good to learn that in a place heaving with seven kitchens, each gives the other stellar competition.

Including the Italian we would confirm, having tasted the roast bell pepper risotto and a rather decadent Spinach ricotta cannelloni in a tomato cream sauce, tomato and ricotta being keywords here, given the balancing tangy-rich act they do together. Decadence often leaves little room for dessert. Yet we dug our spoons, as deep as they’d go, into the Caramelized banana cake, Chocolate kalhua mousse, Napoleon pastry and the Chocolate cappuccino puff.

Garnering table-round rave reviews- Crispy John Dory w/ lotus stem salad
Garnering table-round rave reviews- Crispy John Dory w/ lotus stem salad
John Dory, without a doubt. The crispy fish engulfed in zesty coriander and sweet sauce has come to be the exception in my non-fish favoring existence. But speaking of fish, those who do favor it, raw especially need not look further than Set’z. They may not be one of your self-righteous Japanese eating-houses but their sushi is exceptional. Including the vegetarian; I found myself reveling in the freshness of the dil speckled Fujion uramaki roll, with cucumber, tomato and lollo rosso. And in the scrumptious spinach wrapped chicken and the Corn and water chestnut from the dim sum selection. For the sweet toothed, we’d prescribe some of that caramelized banana cake which was absolutely splendid and had a gooey sauce to go with. Unless you’re looking for chocolate, in which case the lethal combination of chocolate and Kahlua, with a coffee crème brulee center is a real winner.

In the current, culinary chaos that the capital is facing, Set’z proves to be the Hercules of restaurants. Fabulous location, spectacular yet minimal ambience, delicious food, kickass presentation, a plethora of options and a glamorous reputation, these aren’t traits an eatery can get right at once. And yet somehow, Zest or Set’z, whatever it is you’ve been calling it over the years does. And even all of that aside, nothing can be upmarket yet personal like it does.

The critic was served a tasting menu and matching Lindeman’s wine degustation.

3rd Floor, DLF Emporio Mall,
Nelson Mandela Marg,
Vasant Kunj,
New Delhi-110070
Tel: 0091-11 4311 9999/9900


9 Food
9 Service
9 Ambience
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