Reviewed by Haleema Nazar | 6 months ago
It's no secret that Agra has notoriously paved the way for authentic North Indian cuisine. They have consistently stressed on the bold notion of executing dishes that are delicately and skilfully prepared by Indian chefs. They have successfully made a name for themselves, setting high standards of excellence in terms of not just the food but also ensuring that guests are provided with an atmosphere that transports them all the way to India, or atleast a close version of it.
Agra offers a menu that is extensive, including multiple starters, mouthwatering main courses and traditional Indian drinks and desserts. This means contemplating what to get can be a tedious task - not that we're complaining!
Considering that they have been making waves for a couple of years now, we decided to give them a crack to see what all the fuss was about.
Chicken Tikka | Rs.1175
The chicken we received characteristically resembled grilled chicken. It was marinated with spices and herbs that effortlessly shot through the wonderfully moist char-grilled pieces of chicken that showcased finely tuned seasoning with minimal distractions. Succulent and flavourful on the inside while bringing up the heat on the outside, this proved to be a delectable little treat.
Considering that this dish is becoming more and more popular as it rides the wave of health-conscious dining, this was a win-win in our book
Peshawari Kebab | Rs.1275
Agra's version of a Peshawari kebab is slightly enriched by the addition of a cheese and herb stuffing that is char-grilled on a skewer. The chicken glistened due to the brushing of ghee and butter all over, and while tucking in, the melted cheese instantly oozed out with ease, giving the dish its 'oomph' factor.
The meat was surprisingly juicy and tender and there was a harmonious marriage with the cheese, spices and fresh herbs. The spice and the heat creep up on your palate quickly and then dissipate roughly about 5 seconds later.
A well constructed dish not overdone with ingredients that left my fellow reviewer, Sarah, in absolute awe.
Lasooni Prawns | Rs.1475
For a dish that was dressed to impress, this was a bit of a letdown which was an utter shame, considering the brilliant start.
Other than the excessive amount of garlic which proved to be slightly too overpowering for our taste buds, the dish as a whole was devoid of any flavour. The prawns were a few minutes overdone, leaning towards a rubbery and chewy texture as opposed to the expected soft and delicate consistency. For the price quoted, I think it's safe to say that we would steer far away from this particular dish on our next visit to Agra.
Possibly toning it down a notch with the garlic and we may eventually have ourselves a winner!
Fish Amritsari | Rs.1075
This fish was lightly coated in batter and fried to absolute perfection creating a beautiful, crisp exterior, paving the way for a delightful crunch with every mouthful. The fish was undeniably fresh and cooked carefully, that gracefully flaked off the fork as we tucked in. Moist and succulent, you can easily tell that the fish was treated with the respect that it deserved and made with a noticeable amount of love and attention.
Considering that its outer appearance was a deep red in colour, we were impressed that the fish didn't get lost in the copious amount of spices that were added into the batter, ensuring that the fish remained the star of the dish. So kudos to the head chef for maintaining the balance between the two and ensuring that there was no funny overshadowing business going on.
Perhaps Steve Harvey could pick up a few pointers after his bizarre little mishap at the Miss Universe pageant.
Chicken Dum Biriyani | Rs.975
Biriyani, an evergreen classic, really needs no introduction. Being the biriyani connoisseurs we are, we went in with soaring expectations, only to be left with rather deflated dreams.
The rice was served in a heavy-bottomed pot and was garnished with strong aromatic herbs and fried onions on top. The long grain basmati was gluggy and wasn't as light and fluffy as we would have liked. It was fragrant but lacked that hearty combination of spices and condiments, leaning towards a slightly mellow hit of spices resembling that of rice that we could easily get our hands on from a kade along the street for far less. Sadly, it wasn't memorable and would definitely not have us coming back for seconds.
In saying that, the chicken chunks infused into the rice remained tender and succulent but even that wasn't enough to lift the dish as a whole
The biriyani was accompanied by a small side of refreshing savoury yoghurt sauce (better known as raita) that was perfect for cleansing and calming the palate when the spiciness of a dish gets your mouth burning.
Garlic Naan | Rs.250
Naan is a classic oven-baked flatbread commonly eaten in India, and Agra whips up a menu that offers a variety of them including butter, garlic, tikka or cheese infused styles.
The smokey flatbreads were served warm and possessed a soft, light and pillowy texture with just the right hit of garlic that wasn't too overpowering. Pair it up with butter chicken or any dipping sauce for that matter, and you have yourself a show-stopping combo!
Watermelon Juice | Rs.400
If you're on the lookout for a freshly pressed signature juice or in need of a cleansing retreat, then I strongly urge you to give their watermelon juice a try. The juice proved to be refreshingly sweet and hydrating with the absence of any additives and steered away from being too diluted. Light, revitalizing and cooling - all common traits present, that definitely sits right with us!
Khesari Kulfi | Rs.900
Considering that I was fortunate enough to savour this widely favoured delicacy in India, I can safely declare that the one that was served at Agra was a close second. Seen more as traditional frozen ice cream with a slightly denser consistency, the ice cream oozed out with bags of contrasting flavours, saffron and cardamon in particular, that instantly hit you from the very first bite. It was chillingly smooth and uniformly dense, intensely creamy and aromatic, and was crucially served at the right temperature.
The occasional crunch from the almonds and pistachios delightfully elevated the dish in terms of taste, and when you finally, regretfully get to that last bite, you'll find yourself unintentionally reminiscing a summertime classic.
An ideal dessert to relish in this heat and a fitting way to end our meal.
The staff at Agra are terrific, maintaining the expected level of professionalism that you would expect to find at any given restaurant. They were sharp, engaged and on it.
Our waiter approached us with the warmest greeting and took the time to explain in detail about dishes that carried particular Indian terms that we weren't too familiar with.
They checked up on us from time to time and couldn't have been more helpful in ensuring that we were comfortable and that our needs were well taken of.
Interior and Ambience
Sophisticated, with simple Indian-inspired decor, the restaurant excudes sheer elegance. There is an ample amount of space with convenient and comfortable seating arrangements, and the upscale ambience is plush without being snooty. Charming table decor with glossy, colourful checkered plates that lean towards a retro-modern vibe, shedding a bit of colour into the place, because you know we could all use a bit of that in our lives - just saying!
The dim lighting inside pairs well with the generous placement of candles that are lit up and scattered all over the place, creating a slightly warm, fuzzy and romantic undertone.
Soothing instrumental tunes are performed by a live band that is bound to have your toes tapping to the beat, inevitably making your dining experience that much more memorable.
Agra is the perfect place to start your obsession with Indian cuisine as both the dining environment and menu have been carefully curated to captivate its guests with the strong aromatic flavours of India through the artful creation of blended spices.
It's here that they set the determinedly Indian tone, albeit with a contemporary view, offering guests an opportunity to grub in style and immerse themselves into a tasty, satisfying comfort food experience.
Offering clean flavours with an emphasis on quality and freshness, it's pretty clear why Agra has had a good innings and still continues to do so. If you're ever in the vicinity and in need of a place to experience the essence of some downright delicious authentic Indian food, you know where to head!