The Imperial, New Delhi’s all-day dining restaurant 1911 has reopened post the lockdown
The year 1911 is a landmark year in the history of Delhi. It’s the year that King Emperor George V declared New Delhi as the capital of India. The announcement was made at the grand ‘Delhi Durbar’ – which was attended by representatives of all the princely states. 1911, the all-day dining restaurant at The Imperial, New Delhi – the only hotel to be part of Lutyen’s plans for New Delhi – pays tribute to this historic milestone.
Spread into three luxurious dining areas – Brasserie, Verandah, and Terrace, 1911 reflects the bygone era of the Raj. The walls are adorned with photographs from the 1911 Durbar and the colonial era. The restaurant which was called The Garden Party till the 1990s has a rich history. Its pillared verandah has seen the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Radhakrishnan, and others discuss the integration of the princely states into the Union of India in early 1947. “1911 showcases beautifully the views of “Delhi Durbar” through actual pictures. We even have the coat of arms of the various princely states decorating the walls of the restaurant. The art deco interiors are exquisitely matched with British Raj trivia,” says Vijay Wanchoo, Sr. Executive Vice President &General Manager, The Imperial New Delhi.
A hugely popular restaurant with Delhiites who favour it for its world cuisine and old-world charm, the 1911 reopened recently post the lockdown.
The menu has a bit of everything from sandwiches, burgers and wraps to biryani and murgh tikka makhani to even a thupka and nasi goreng. But it is the selection from their archives that is the highlight of the menu. Try the Shepherd’s Pie or the signature Chicken Imperial – a boneless grilled chicken which is served with creamed potatoes, medley of vegetables and mushrooms with raisin sauce. It has been part of the 1911 menu since the beginning and is one of the oldest recipes carried forward.
Since the other two signature restaurants – Spice Route serving South East Asian cuisine and the Italian restaurant San Gimignano – haven’t reopened yet, a choice of dishes from them are also available on the 1911 menu.
Order the mushroom risotto, the traditional baked tenderloin lasagna or the sea bass fillets. And of the course the tiramisu from the San Gimignano menu.
For those who would prefer Southeast Asian, try the Thai green or red curry with steamed jasmine rice. Or the tiger prawns cooked in Thai yellow curry.
Dining at the 1911 or for that matter a visit to The Imperial is not just about the food. The ambience is so rich with history that you can’t help but imagine what the walls would reveal if they could talk.
The Imperial that was conceptualised in 1934 by Blomfield and inaugurated by Lord Willingdon in 1936 is located on Janpath, the erstwhile Queensway — the second most important social boulevard of the nation. The first being Kingsway which we now know as Rajpath.
It was Lady Willingdon who gave it the name ‘The Imperial’ and was actively involved in designing its interiors. Replete with tableware from London, Italian marble floors, Burma teak and rosewood furniture, fountains from Florence, and original Daniells and Frasers on the walls, The Imperial creates the aura of an early 19th century English manor.
The Imperial was the only hotel that was part of Lutyen’s original plans for New Delhi. It was in his scheme of things to build the most luxurious hotel in the new capital city with a unique blend of Victorian, old colonial and art deco. So you have Victorian bronze lions at the entrance and art deco wall panels in the high-domed atrium inside.
The hotel continues to be owned and run by the family of Rai Bahadur Sardar Narain Singh who constructed it. He is the great grandfather of Jasdev Singh and Hardev Singh Akoi, the two Managing Partners of M/S Akoi Saab.
When it opened its doors in 1936, the Independence movement was at a high and the days of the Raj were coming to an end. During such times The Imperial provided a space where Indians and Britishers could rub shoulders. In the ballroom of The Imperial Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatama Gandhi, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Lord Mountbatten met to discuss the partition of India and creation of Pakistan. There is a picture of the meeting at 1911.
Think of all the history the walls have witnessed while you treat yourself to a lovely meal.