Restaurant Review: Terminus 1

Writing about Ambience Mall the other day, I mentioned that this place—what with restaurants like Yauatcha, Indigo Deli, etc—was swiftly becoming a good place to eat out. This weekend, again in the mall to do some shopping, my husband and I realised that another restaurant had opened. Situated in the right hand corner of the second floor is Terminus 1, the theme of which is air travel. And, since you can fly to just about any corner of the world nowadays, Terminus 1 aims to do something similar: bring you food from all across the world.

Inside Terminus 1.

Inside Terminus 1.

While a little dimly lit, the restaurant is fairly pleasant inside: the furniture is dark wood (with one area lounge-like, with sofas, shelves of model cars, buses and the like) and old-fashioned artwork. Stencilled on a beam on the ceiling above us were illustrations of an airplane, a dotted line showing its route. On strings suspended across the ceiling were little national flags from across the world. All cute, all charming and comfortable.

Inside the restaurant. Sadly, the nicest part of Terminus 1 is its decor.

Inside the restaurant. Sadly, the nicest part of Terminus 1 is its decor.

The open kitchen at Terminus 1.

The open kitchen at Terminus 1.

The menu itself, presented as soon as we’d sat down, was interesting enough. Terminus 1 does seem to make a concerted effort to offer international cuisines: there was everything here from lamb tagine to kosha maangsho (a Bengali style meat curry, for the uninitiated), fish and chips and roast chicken to laksa to… well, everything. Some are classics; others are fusion. After some thinking, both my husband and I (and you can see we share similar tastes!) settled on the same dish: a seemingly Mexican-inspired beer-braised pork short ribs served with a roasted red chilli pepper chili, along with sour cream and potatoes. The pork, according to the description, was sous vide.

While we were choosing what to order, a waiter came by with a basket of bread. The basket included lots of different types of bread, of which the one which looked the most appealing to us both was the focaccia. Unlike most restaurants, where the bread is left on the table for you to serve yourself, this was a “What would you like me to serve you?” system: a distraction, since we were right then trying to focus on what to order. Both of us asked for some focaccia—my husband also asked for a rustic-looking brown bread—and after that had been served, went back to looking at the menus.

A complimentary coconutty something; breads and butter.

A complimentary coconutty something; breads and butter.

The menu’s beverage section includes a few mocktails, juices, smoothies, shakes and hot beverages, but no alcohol (as yet, at least). I ordered a lemon iced tea; my husband decided to stick to plain water.

Lemon iced tea at Terminus 1.

Lemon iced tea at Terminus 1.

In the midst of all of this, a waiter had also come by to place a complimentary starter at our table. I never quite caught what he said it was, but this (when we ate it, after placing our orders) turned out to be one of the oddest and least memorable complimentaries I’ve ever had: a bed of a lightly spiced coconut-flavoured foam (rather like a very insipid Malaysian curry, in foam form) with two thin toasted slices of what seemed like a baguette sticking up in it. Very forgettable.

The breads weren’t great, either. The focaccia, at least, was too dense and had none of the spring and airiness I expect of this bread. To accompany the bread were two tubes of butter (labelled ‘mustard pepper parsley’, though they tasted of just plain old butter and with no sign of any of the flavourings mentioned). Rather more gimmicky than anything else, I decided.

While we waited for our food to arrive, we looked around a bit. Directly in front of us was the open kitchen, with—above the large glass window—three flat screen TVs. On one screen a football match (yes, well; the World Cup is on, after all!) was being shown. On another, a TV food show was playing. On the central one—for some reason neither of us could fathom—a camera trained on part of Terminus 1’s kitchen was giving a live feed. A chopping board, a knife, a chef standing and lounging about with his hands behind his back. Nothing even vaguely interesting, so the whole point of it escaped me. (Unless, of course, this is a means of making sure that the kitchen staff follow hygienic practices, since they’ll be in public view all the time).

Our food was served up after about 10 minutes (my iced tea had arrived much before—and was passable). One look at our plates, and my heart sank. It had that ‘been sitting on the pass for a long time’ look: the ribs and the small pile of chili beside them both looked dry and dull, as if they’d been plated up and then kept hot while the vegetables were sautéed and added to the plate.

Beer braised pork short ribs at Terminus 1, served with chili, potatoes with sour cream, and vegetables.

Beer braised pork short ribs at Terminus 1, served with chili, potatoes with sour cream, and vegetables.

A summary of all that was on the plate, and my impressions of each:

1. The sous vide short ribs. Three of these, all rather sparse-looking, and (when we tried eating them), yes: very, very sparse indeed. I got about a dessertspoonful’s worth of chewy meat—after much struggling with my knife and fork—off one rib. The other two ribs yielded no meat. There was some sinew (and possibly some fibres of meat hidden beneath it, but by this time I was too miffed to persevere). My husband, abandoning cutlery, used his hands, but admitted that even he got precious little meat off the bones, and what there was, was tough and—as I agreed, too—not great when it came to flavour.

2. The chili. I might have liked this if it had some flavour other than the chillies. As it was, this was just a miserable little heap of brown stuff studded with roasted dried red chillies (local ones, I suspect, none of those imported Mexican habaneros etc). Little flavour except heat, and no texture except mush.

3. The potatoes. Baby potatoes, roasted in their skins, lightly smashed, and served with a topping of sour cream and chopped chives. All right, though I’d have preferred the potatoes to be hot, not merely warm.

4. The sautéed vegetables. Three types of bell pepper—yellow, red and green; zucchini; broccoli, and carrot. Freshly cooked, hot, with just the right crunch still in them, and—sadly—the best thing on the plate.

There is something very wrong in a dish where the core ingredient is the worst element on the plate (and the other elements are also mostly average, if not downright bad). By the time we finished our main course, even though I wasn’t completely satiated, I decided I didn’t want to have dessert at Terminus 1. I didn’t want to risk it—even though some of the desserts sounded interesting (a blueberry and thyme soup, an apricot and ginger crumble among them), there was always the chance that, like the ribs, the dessert would turn out to be nothing close to as appetising as it sounded on the menu.

So we skipped dessert, and having paid up Rs 1,802 for our meal (just two plates of ribs and an iced tea? “Daylight robbery,” said my husband, and I couldn’t agree more), departed. Never to return, I may add.

Terminus 1, I told my husband, may be recommended for people who like typical airline food so much that they want it on the ground too. “This is one terminus you shouldn’t be taking a culinary flight from,” he agreed.

Terminus 1
238, 2nd Floor
Ambience Mall
Nelson Mandela Marg
Vasant Kunj
New Delhi
Tel: 011- 40870755

4 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Terminus 1

  1. To day only,i got an invite from chef ashish( terminus)& i’m a little scary.How ever,a well written review covering all aspects of the Experience.
    I’m sure the management will take note of your comments & rectify as I know Chef Ashish to be a diligent,competent chef.

  2. Thank you for the appreciation – and do try it out and let me know what you think. I’m hoping we were just unlucky and that was a bad day in the kitchen for them…

  3. I notice that you are kind to restaurants as you review them. With time (and age), I have become rather short tempered and I find the shortcomings, especially in fancy places, irritable. The restaurants that I’d avoid like the poison are the pretentious places in fancy shopping malls. My wife and I, therefore, only go to places that are tried and tested these days–and those that are not too far away from us. Your review of Cafe Lota is encouraging. We’ll make it a point to go there on a Sunday.

    • Unfortunately for my husband and I, shopping malls have become more or less the place to go on a weekend – because it allows us to get essential shopping done (a lot of our groceries are of the type available only at Food Hall). So we end up eating mostly at malls, too – though in the recent past, we’ve begun to frequent just a few tried and tested places. Sushi Haus, Mistral, Indigo Deli (though lots of people have trashed that place, I’ve always enjoyed whatever I’ve eaten there).

      Terminus 1, frankly, is horrible. I can imagine it appealing to the sort of crowd that thinks Big Chill is good, but that’s about it.

      Do check out Cafe Lota – this is perfect weather for it, too.

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