Mitya Borisov, the restaurateur famous
for the wine bar chain Jean-Jacques and
the pub chain John Donne, is diversifying.
Just a couple of months ago, he opened
Proliv, an arty cafe targeting Moscow’s intelligentsia.
Now he has unveiled BarDelhi, which,
judging by the crowd, aims for a different audience:
young, hip and rather well-off Muscovites
interested in good cocktails and exotic food.

BarDelhi is a collaboration between the
team behind the cult Indian vegetarian restaurant
Moscow-Delhi, Roman Milostivy, whose
cocktail bar Chainaya is on the list of the
world’s best bars, and Vladimir Basov, supplier
of organic and biodynamic wines.

BarDelhi takes up two floors and the roof
of a building previously occupied by one of
Borisov’s John Donne pubs. The first floor is the
bar, the second is the main dining room with
the tandoor and the roof is the patio.

The press promised a truly unique experience—and
that is exactly what I got. It began
with the seating arrangements: The staff initially
offered a seat next to the tandoor, but the
heat coming off this traditional Indian oven was
so strong that I was sweating in no time and
asked to move to a second-floor table.

The menu offers one vegetarian (1,200
rubles/$21) and two non-vegetarian sets (1,500
rubles) with either chicken or lamb. After lengthy
explanations I settled on a lamb set. First
came the appetizers, which included sautéed
lamb brain, churumuri—a rice and vegetable
appetizer—and, surprisingly, home-made fries.

The waitress recommended the gin and
tonic with homemade tonic water – blended
with anise, cardamom, pepper, lemongrass and
citrus fruits. Unfortunately, the tonic’s taste
was so overwhelming that it was only drinkable
when the ice had melted and diluted it.

Masala tea seemed unusually cheap at 100 rubles, but when it was served, this became clear—it was more of a “shot” of masala rather than a cup, and can be downed in a single gulp. There is also masala coffee for 150 rubles a shot.

There was ample time to sip on drinks, as more than an hour passed between the appetizers and the arrival of the main dish—a time in which my chair managed to collapse under me, leaving me on my back in the wreckage.

Swiftly bringing two new chairs and stacking one on top of the other, the staff apologized profusely, with the bizarre explanation that these chairs can only be used two at a time. It was only then that I took a glance around the restaurant and noticed that most of the other diners were sitting on double-stacked chairs.

The food at BarDelhi is good but the portions are small—don’t try to share a set between two people. The main dish of the set included a (very spicy) lamb rib in chili sauce, a lamb kebab, basmati rice, naan bread and yogurt-based raita sauce.

While the staff speaks English, Russian, French and supposedly many other languages, it’s still hard to get things across. When you order one tea and you get two teas and a coffee—all of which then appear on your check— it’s clear that the service is a little on the amateurish side. When I pointed out the mistake, the staff just deducted random items from the check and I ended up paying 500 rubles less.

I spent over two hours at BarDelhi, when the plan was to stop by for an hour at most. It’s not a place for a quick dinner or a date, but a venue for a casual celebration with friends.