We recently dined at the Dawat-e-Nawab "Indian" Restaurant situated in the Radisson Blu Agra. The dining experience was a highlight of our trip, based on superb food, gracious hosting/service, sincere staff, and lovely environment.
We were hot and hungry after a sunset spent photographing The Taj. We wanted Indian food, but didn't have the energy left to tackle a taxi and navigate ourselves to a place outside the hotel. How fortunate that turned out to be.
We found the ambience of Dawat-e-Nawab most inviting – vibrant with color and texture, spacious with selections of booths or tables, and alluring with what turned out to be "live" food preparation in the dining area itself. Music soothed our tired bodies and an engaging "host" made frequent visits to the table, sharing bits of Indian history and offering additional character to the dining experience. The table was set with metal serviceware, linens, and other fineries.
I wish I could recall the specific dishes we ordered, but basically they were a vegetarian Thali and a non-vegetarian Thali – the main sampler plates. The meal was served in stages, each course surpassing or at least equal to its predecessor. I'm not used to describing different foods, so am finding myself defaulting to descriptors such as succulent, delicious, well-seasoned. The food was simply excellent – from the lighter appetizers to the more solid main dishes. Nothing was too spicy, heavy, or dry/overcooked. Each dish offered its own unique taste.
While the food was served Thali style, we were offered additional servings if we desired such, which we did on a few dishes (note: the courses are many, so don't fill up too early on !). One dish was prepared at tableside, which is always fun and was done in a non-obtrusive way.
The restaurant was easily able to accommodate some of our special dietary needs and the head chef even made an appearance at our table. As I browse the website, I am reminded that one feature of the restaurant is that vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are prepared not only separately, but in separate kitchen areas.
By the time the dessert offerings came around, we were quite full, but still managed enough nibbles to enjoy the tastefulness of each.
We are no strangers to Indian or Nepali food, having an array of such restaurants where we live. How I wish Dawat-e-Nawab was in our neighborhood, instead of halfway across the world, however. This restaurant far exceeded our expectations; we thought we would have a less authentic meal, given we had settled for a hotel restaurant, but every aspect of our meal was truly superb.
The most unusual part of the experience was that there were few diners in the restaurant; they were all next door at the hotel's coffee shop. While the coffee shop offered an international menu that suits many, the food at Dawat-e-Nawab was so good we wanted to steer people out of the coffee shop and into the restaurant. After several inquiries, we finally realized that the coffee shop is often pre-sold as part of the hotel-stay package. Its international menu makes it a safe choice for guests, so tour companies package it in. My main reason for writing this review is to suggest you not let your dining choice be pre-made by your tour company. Our experience at Dawat was so rewarding that I want to encourage others to have the same dining pleasure.
Prices were reasonable: 899 Indian Rupees for the Vegetarian Thali (about US$ 16.54) and 999 Indian Rupees for the Non-Vegetarian Thali (about US$ 18.38). Add some taxes/VAT and I believe our two dinners totaled about US$ 53.00.
The hotel itself was comfortable, nicely appointed, and extremely convenient to The Taj. The staff were all smiles and forever helpful. Perhaps the only disappointment at the hotel was the cocktail experience in the Liquid Lounge - both of our specialty drinks were bland and unsatisfying.
More info about the restaurant can be found at http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-agra/dining
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