A safe, reliable choice for lunch in Delhi – Basil & Thyme

If you are looking for a safe, reliable, air-conditioned, relaxing place for lunch in Delhi (and come to think of it, who isn’t ?) then look no further than the little restaurant tucked into the far corner of the Santushti Shopping Complex.

Welcome to Basil & Thyme.

A favourite haunt of ladies who lunch and foreigners shopping at Santushti’s elegant shops, Basil & Thyme serves consistently good, Western food.

Lots of quiches, salads, pasta, crepes.   Divine olive pate.

No alcohol.

Good puddings.

OK coffee.

Delicious ginger fizz, which is a lurid bubble-gum pink, but refreshing.

It’s not that cheap, I warn you – well, I think Rs 125 (+ VAT) is a lot for a small coffee.

Having said that, it’s a relaxing place to eat in one of Delhi’s cutest and quietest shopping centres.

 

Here is our recent bill for 3 people :

 

FLIPSIDE CAFE in NEW DELHI

Hauz Khas village, a popular arty enclave in New Delhi, India, is changing at the speed of light.

My first visit in 2 months, and lo and behold, I now have to pay for parking.  But to be fair, the muddy sidewalk is now paved over, so I suppose one mustn’t crib at paying Rs10 to park there.

I went with one of the city’s better known food writers and critics, for a casual getting-to-know-each-other lunch in Flipside, a new café, tucked away up a steep flight of stairs.

Simple food, relaxed service, wi-fi, and all very pleasant it was, too.

We opted for crepes, rather than pizzas.  My companion had a sweet one – a rather daunting sounding confection of peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream, whereas I opted for savoury.  Cheese, mushroom, corn and lettuce –  the latter not really doing it for me as part of a crepe, to be honest.  I’d rather have had the salad on the side.

Nice cold coffee.

The puds looked good, and my companion proclaimed the sacher torte she ate as tasting home made.

I can see this place becoming popular with tourists and students, with its easy atmopshere and wifi.  Today, for example, there was a young lady on her laptop in one corner, nursing a coffee.  There were 2 rather bedraggled-looking French tourists, and later 2 American youngsters with their rucksacks propped against the wall.  I met another girlfriend having a quick lunch reading her paper.  All very casual and easy-going.

At Rs 90 ++ for a cold coffee, it ain’t cheap, but I can see myself calling in whenever I am wandering through Hauz Khas.

Flipside is open 10-10 every day except Tuesday, doesn’t have a liquor licence, takes credit cards – what else ?  Oh yes, seriously, nice clean loo.

7, Hauz Khas Village

New Delhi 110016

 

Tel : 011 2651 6341

Gondola lift in Gulmarg, Kashmir

The pretty hill station of Gulmarg in India’s Kashmir state, is already high enough for many people who fly into Srinagar.  The first day can leave you a little breathless from the altitude  – 2699.6 m/8856.9 ft.

So wait a day or two before taking the gondola up to Apharwat.  This French-built lift takes you up to 3,979m, just below the summit of Apharwat, making it the world’s highest ski lift. The latter is a fact we were told many times.  The locals are very proud of their gondolas.

The system is in 2 stages, and you buy separate tickets, so if you only want to experience one stage, you can do so.

Gulmarg-Kongdori is the first stage and costs Rs 300 per ticket, while the second stage, Kongdori-Apharwat, costs Rs 500, so the trip isn’t cheap by Indian standards.  But it is well worth it. (These are round trip tickets, obviously)

The views are lovely, as you climb ever higher, the gondolas are clean, perhaps thanks to the cute sign inside each cabin :

We went in the summer, and the queues were long, but surprisingly orderly (this is India, after all) and move pretty quickly.

 

 

Delhi Airport

For those of us who have known Delhi for a goodly number of years, and endured the old airport, the new Indira Gandhi Airport is beyond a breath of fresh air.  It is Nirvana. Perfection. Relief.

Loads of check-in counters. Loads of immigration counters, though that particular make-over is strictly cosmetic.  The staff may well wear smart grey jackets, but they are just as surly and unsmiling as in the old days.

Once through formalities, you could be anywhere, though Heathrow springs to mind, with all the WH Smith bookshops and Body Shops and Early Learning Centres.  All rather unsettling.  There are some Indian shops, but not enough to make an impression.  You can buy Versace, Reebok, Mango should you wish, but it would have been nice to have more Indian merchandise to soak up all those departing tourist dollars.

One exception is a store tucked away at the end of the huge shopping area, called “India Explore” which, at least the morning this reviewer passed through the airport, had a musician playing the tabla, sitting in front of the marigold-strewn “Serenity pool”.  Apologies for thinking it was piped music.  This calming little bit of Indian mechandising is rather bizarrely located opposute Haagen Das and opposite the Delhi Daredevils sports café.

Other than the profusion of British shops, another unsettling Heathrow-esque touch is the rather Essex girl voice that makes all the English-language flight announcements.  What on earth is wrong with a well-spoken Indian voice ?

The airport now has clean loos – by Indian standards – but the corridor leading to the bathrooms in the International departures section is old-style India- paan spit stains and broken tiles.

Expensive coffee, but it’s good.

Loads of comfortable seating, TVs with the latest news, plug points for laptops, people walking round cleaning.

Definitely world-class.