Inspired by New York Restaurant Week, RWI began as a passion-project that has grown from 7 restaurants to 71 in its third year. Mangal Dalal, founding partner of Desi Restaurant Week Pvt Ltd, says he still views it as an unfinished project, hoping to take it to much greater scale, taking over entire restaurants and extending its reach to include many more cities. “India is on the cusp of a very exciting food scene. The restaurants we’ve selected offer experiences that range from French bistro cuisine to molecular gastronomy, high-end dine-outs, dim-sum bars and simple, classic Indian food.” RWI is also a great opportunity for restaurants and chefs to expand their clientele and showcase the best of their work. “We encourage restaurants not to think about costs. The more people they welcome and the larger variety they have on offer, will ensure that more guests enjoy the experience and be more likely to return.”
Chef Manu Chandra of Olive Beach sees Restaurant Week India as a ten-day-long celebration of good food, diverse cuisine and a medium of reaching out to food enthusiasts in the country. Chef Prashanth of Likethatonly says he expects a lot of excitement, buzz and footfalls this April. “It is the perfect platform for participating restaurants to reach out to a wider audience. At the same time it opens up opportunities for diners to experience different cuisines and restaurants, which they may not do on a regular basis. Being a newly opened restaurant with a unique food and space concept, RW is a perfect opportunity to open our doors to a gamut of diners from different walks of life.”
Organising RWI over the last three years has put Mangal in a unique position, privy to nuances in the evolution of food culture in each city. He offers some interesting observations. “While Delhi is more open to luxury dining, Mumbai is all about the product and value for money. Bangalore on the other hand, seems to have two ends of the spectrum – a community that cares about high-end gourmet food and another that is very price-conscious and cautious about eating out; there appears to be a gap in the middle waiting to be filled.”
The way that the food community in each city responds also speaks volumes about its food culture. “Bangalore’s online community is very vibrant. We used social media to reach out to the Foodies in Bangalore group and it turned out to be the best, most effective way to reach food enthusiasts. In Mumbai, word of mouth is still the best way to learn about new restaurants and what to try, while in Delhi the newspapers and magazines still rule that sphere.”
While this edition of RWI promises to be exciting overall, is Mangal looking forward to a few restaurants in particular? “Well, this is completely a personal choice and not any sort of recommendation, but I love traditional Indian food and the ITC’s execute the simple classics so outstandingly well. In Bangalore, I enjoy Blue Ginger and Café Noir. Delhi’s Rara Avis does French bistro food really well. I always enjoy Vetro and Hakkasan in Mumbai. But if I had to pick an absolute favourite, it would be Indian Accent at The Manor, by far. “
So if you haven’t made your bookings yet, what are you waiting for? Check out which restaurants are on offer, try out a few, and spend the hot summer months unwinding with some of the best food and drink your city has to offer.