The only true downside of eating everything under the sun is that sometimes even renowned institutions can leave you in a state of tepid dissatisfaction. Heavy blows, if you have not only spent countless nights pondering on what to eat in Darjeeling but also obsessing on menus to figure out what to order and then fantasised about the flavour profiles of individual dishes. My first foray into taking a bite out off the high street of Darjeeling cuisine turned out to be one such misadventure. Debanjan, my co-traveller on this trip who puts up with my questionable dining choices was pretty pleased with Ara by Bellevue when we walked in on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Chic with upholstery that can be described as urban hip, Ara is the newest gastropub to open its doors to the people of Darjeeling.
I started to question our choice after my first spoon of the American Chopsuey we had ordered. The Indianised version at Ara was a scalding hot gravy containing some vegetables and shredded, broiled chicken. It was thickened with cornstarch and marred by too much soy sauce. The gravy is to be poured upon the bed of deep fried crispy noodles and the 5-year old in me found the perfect opportunity to play with food, twirling the noodles to coat them in the tangy gravy. Unfortunately, the fun ended there. The acidity of raw tomatoes was overpowering and the flavour profile was a singular sour note. Heartburn aside, this meal made me reminisce about the very first, and satisfying, meal I had had in Darjeeling three years ago.