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As French as it gets

Here’s where you get authentic French cuisine in the capital

‘L’Opéra Salon de Thé’ by Chor Bizarre at the iconic heritage property of Bikaner House in Lutyens’ Delhi, now has a new line of light savoury meals. “The chef created this menu with the setting in mind,” reveals co-founder and Managing Director Laurent Samandari, welcoming me in a cozy, classy and café style eatery.

L’Opéra is his brainchild as he envisioned the demand for authentic, high-quality French bakery and pastry products while on an internship in India, as part of his business degree. Laurent’s parents, Kazem and Christine Samandari also joined him in Delhi to help grow L’Opéra and make it one of India’s most loved brands.

Coming back to the menu, there is a whole lot of new varieties of coffees, soups, salads, a range of feuilletés, lasagne and light French meals. On the recommendation of L’Opéra’s Executive Chef Amit Sinha (in pic), I start with The Vegetable Feuilleté, a French must-have due to its incomparable flakiness, made with lightly seasoned puff pastry and fresh vegetables. It is absolutely delicious with delicate balance of veg flavours and I don’t need any dip.

The Chicken Leek Feuilleté, complemented by garlic, cream and herbs is as delicate as it is wholesome, with subtle herbs. The Mushroom Feuilleté, complemented with onion, garlic, mixed herbs and peas is the perfect hearty option whereas the Cheese & Tomato Feuilleté, a Mediterranean delight made with sundried tomatoes and béchamel sauce, is equally exquisite.

It is the season of salads and Chef Amit offers some amazing ones. Parisian Salad is a non-veg French classic, loaded with potatoes, egg, Swiss Emmental cheese and pork ham. For vegetarians, spinach beetroot feta salad is perfect, having the earthiness of the beetroot, the saltiness of the feta cheese, the freshness of mint and basil plus crunchy walnut and sunflower seeds. My favourite was Quinoa Salad, packed with garden fresh tomatoes, a touch of parsley and a dash of refreshing cucumber. Chicken lovers can enjoy Chicken Salad having cheese, fresh lettuce and roasted chicken with classic bread croutons; served with French vinaigrette.

L’Opera is known for its classic soups as well. Beetroot Soup, smooth, creamy beetroot combined with an earthy freshness, which can be served cold or warm — I liked the cold version more.

Then we move on to The Mutton Lasagna, a classic Italian meat dish, with fresh tomato, oregano and fine béchamel sauce, while a lighter but equally enticing variant, the vegetable lasagna, is made with select tomatoes, fresh broccoli, zucchini, peas and carrots, and a touch of rosemary and garlic.

Last but not the least are classic French favourites —Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame. These delicious sandwiches, with ham, milk bread and melting cheese and Béchamel sauce on the inside and on top, (and a fried egg on top for Croque Madame) are a treat for any fan of French food.

Round off your meal with the signature Opéra Pastry, which combines the flavours of delicate almond biscuit, chocolate ganache, coffee buttercream, and chocolate glaze. I drooled over MilleFeuille — a layered puff pastry filled with pastry cream (custard) with a salty caramel topping — that’s their little twist on the original recipe.

Eats apart, the beverages on offer are a great accompaniment to fruit tarts or a breakfast Viennese, an ideal way to cool you down when the weather outside is scorching. Cucumber lemonade was very refreshing and the Passion Fruit Chia too. It’s healthy too, being a good source of fiber, Omega 3, iron and calcium.

Next visit, I’ll go for the classy high tea, served daily 3-6 pm, with bite-size sandwiches, muffins and mini pastries. But that’s a story for another day…