There were three traditional historic Lahori gates - one in shahjanabad( Delhi),, another in Amritsar and the third in the city of Lahore, and now, we have a new one - Lahori Gate at Meher Chand Market.
Lahori Gate is a relatively new restaurant on the 'hi fi street' of the upmarket Lodhi area, a three floor setup, comfortably ensconced between patisseries and designer clothing & silver jewelry stores - just the apt place for a ' different' cuisine place to open up.
97, Meherchand Market
Timings – 12:00 pm to 11:45 pm
Lahori Gate has a smart casual look, despite offering traditional cuisine. There is a slick bar at the ground level, a regular eating area on the first floor and a 'convert into party area' on the second - through flights of stairs with many photographs of people, places and things reminiscent of the 40s and 50s and graffiti like bright paintings forming the focus on one of the walls in each floor. I like places which are well lit, uncluttered and don’t have overwhelming music, and this one fits the bill on all accounts.
The staff is courteous, helpful and knowledgeable. In fact, the owner, Gazala herself came in, greeted us warmly, and helped with the selection, adding a homely and personalized touch to the experience.
The food is a throwback to the times of undivided Punjab, with flavors from Begum Akbar (Gazala's mom) kitchen, which had been handed down through generations, a fusion of the masalas of Lahore and Amritsar.
What pleased me was that the menu, though Indian, was not the typical butter chicken-and- naan variety.
Paneer Tikka (Rs. 350) was delicious, smooth and with a sumac like flavor one gets from Middle-Eastern dishes.The paneer itself was rich and fresh too, glazed golden in the tandoor.
Lahori Murgh Chholey (Rs. 490) was the definite star of the meal. A delightful, piquant saucy chickpea gravy with chicken pieces was something I had never had before - a must-have, perfect balance of spices.
Lahsooni Palak( Rs. 300) - I chose this dish more for getting my portion of greens and fiber, and was pleasantly surprised to get the pungent garlicky and bhuna jeera( roasted cumin) flavor in the creamy freshness of green (not browned) spinach.
Lahori Dal - This dal is also a must-have, a deviation from the normal dal makhani. This is a sabut masoor, brown daal, tempered with cumin and garlic, rich with the most distinctive delicious smoky flavor I have ever had. This definitely elevates the simple dal to a different level of awesomeness.
Dal Gosht (Rs. 600) - This was little disappointing compared to the other dishes. The meat seemed little raw and not well blended with the spices and gram pulses, and lacked the creamy texture, which comes slow cooked over fire.The spicing was slightly off, too.
Breads - The paranthas are passable, the khasta roti is nice, and the star is the Peshawari naan, which is stuffed with pistachios, cashew, elaichi, khoya and coconut and its subtle sweetness perfectly complements the rich slicy meal.
There was no scope for trying out a dessert after the heavy meal and the dessert menu any way was quite unimaginative. So, I let it be.
Would I go there again – definitely, a yes! The Peshawari naan and the Chana chicken make you want to go again. And, Gazala promised that she would perfect the mutton daal the next time. They need to work on their dessert menu and I noticed that there is no fish in the menu. I’m not happy about that either.
The Pricing A meal for two costs about Rs. 2500.