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Have you ever eaten a meal when everything was "excellent"? When your attempts to be objective and critical failed as you succumbed to the spell of culinary perfection? Well, that's what happened when I was dining with my friends at Oriental Lounge in Chandigarh. This chic library-theme lounge's ambiance is formal elegance, with suede sofas and an elaborate bar, ornate lampshades and art. Soft lighting and Retro music built a laidback mood as we settled in to peruse a floral-theme menu — mix of anglo-indian, Chinese. Though some dishes were alien to us, the waiter answered our queries and shared knowledgeable feedback on selections. 


We started out with a round of cocktails — "BellPepper Jalapeño Cooler" for me, "Marshmallow-Infused Vodka" and "Smoked BloodyMary" for friends. The wine cooler promised "a very different spicy flavour" and kept its promise with zesty aroma and flavours. The kick woke me up from the tiring Shatabdi trip, freshening up and reaching the lounge in no time!! My friends mentioned their cocktails were intensely flavourful too! Refreshed, we ordered "Cured Meat Board" "Toad-In-The-Hole" "Chicken Clay Pot". Cured meat board was the first to arrive. Here I learnt it's a cured meat version of a cheese board — and simply delicious! The salami was sliced thin and paired well with pickled vegetables, gherkins and olives while paté on toast points added textural intrigue to the meat. Up next was the classic English Toad-in-the-Hole. The aroma of sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding was dizzying, stirring our tastebuds to full attention… It was wholesome and flavourful. However, the main event was the clay pot... you'd have to see the presentation of root vegetables and diced chicken cooked with Chinese wine in a clay pot, served with a side of rice, to believe. It was prepared to a fork cutting tenderness… my friends and I all agreed it was the best clay pot we ever had; I remember we used the word "fresh" a lot. These folks know what they're doing!

Just when we thought we'd maxed out our palates and bellies, we were coaxed into trying their signature dessert — "Musketeer Chocolate Mousse". Each decadent spoonful evoked involuntary murmurs of delight. As we were getting up to leave I knew I'd be back on the next visit to Chandigarh. My last reflections? You'll need to visit Orchid Lounge, by Under One Roof, to understand why it's is in a class of its own… soft music creates a luxurious ambiance layered with the chic decor of Norman Rockwell prints and antique books. It's a place of refinement, good manners and elegance. Yet, it's no place for "stuffed shirts"; diners dress in casual comfort. (7.3.2015)


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Orchid Lounge, Sector 34, Chandigarh.

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