Jaipur has long been a haven for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. From indulgent street foods to traditional regal dishes with a rich history, the city has much to offer. In the past few years, Rajasthan’s capital has grown to include more diverse gastronomic experiences. As it continues to attract travellers from across the globe, Jaipur has blossomed in different ways. When we were in the city recently, we had the chance to visit Swinton House, a newly opened restaurant and bar in the Jayanti Market neighbourhood. The establishment combines global influences to present a scrumptious array of dishes and drinks.
The restaurant is housed inside a restored colonial property and has three distinctive sections. For lunch, we were seated in the Yard and enjoyed the wonderful natural light that suffused the space. In the evening, we can well imagine another aspect of its charm, with soft lighting creating the perfect setting for a memorable dinner. The Yard is meant for a more laid-back dining experience, suitable for a leisurely brunch or a romantic date night.
If you don’t wish to be seated here, you can also choose the more sheltered tables situated off the courtyard. The decor here has more opulent touches but also has some fascinating renditions of classic paintings. The four-sided open bar is also situated on the ground floor. The other section of The Swinton House is The Albion, a fine dining space that offers a wide range of Asian delicacies. There are also private dining rooms with a regal ambience.
The Swinton House has been co-founded by Sagar Nagpal and Mohit Gurnani. The food menu is the brainchild of Chef Prince Beniwal, who has taken inspiration from his travels to curate multi-cuisine treats. “We wanted to offer guests something far different than what they’re used to. When we were putting the menu together, we kept thinking about how we could innovate and give a unique twist to the dishes. We kept wondering how to take one simple ingredient or aspect and turn it into something new,” he explains. At The Swinton House, therefore, you can expect an elevated version of some of your favourite Indian and international delicacies. As they change shape, do they manage to retain their taste? We find out.
The first dishes were reinterpretations of popular Indian street-style eats. This description itself may set alarm bells ringing – most of us have encountered an unappetising “modern version” of chaat at least once. But the treats that arrived at our table managed to side-step this fallacy. The Kurkuri Palak Fusion – Swinton’s take on Palak Patta Chaat – was served as individual leaves topped with chatpata mixture. They were arranged on a leaf-shaped plate and the beautiful plating makes an instantly positive first impression. As we bit into the delicately crisp “pattas,” our appreciation increased. Many chaat items (in their original avatars) are enjoyable because of their distinctive medley of textures. This take retains that feature and doesn’t compromise on the robustness of flavour.
Flavour also stands out in the Dabeli Wheels. Again, the unconventional presentation may leave you wondering: can my beloved dabeli possibly taste good in this way? The answer is, yes, it absolutely can. The genius lies in the bread pieces that are soaked in butter, matching the indulgence of the original. The dabeli filling is not toned down and you can revel in its spiciness. The crunch of sev and peanuts adds to the delight.
We were not done with the experimental offerings yet. The Paneer Mousse Nest with Pickled Kataifi was a masterpiece in several ways. It had three layers: crisp katifi at the bottom, a biscuit-sized portion of paneer tikka in the between and a spiced mascarpone piped on top. This is an innovation worth returning for.
There are delectable options for non-vegetarians too. We especially loved the Moroccan Chicken Kebab, which came with a generous amount of sides. The kebab itself was marvellously succulent and packed with the goodness of Moroccan spices. They were served on a bed of bulgur salad, with pickled veggies and smoked olives on the side. That’s not all. You can also wrap the kebabs in mini pita breads and slather them with one of three types of creamy hummus! The starter turned out to be a platter. But we couldn’t complain, as every element won us over with its freshness and flavour.
Another non-veg favourite was the Bhuna Mutton Pide. The flatbread was topped with a wonderfully spiced mince, stringy mozzarella cheese and an egg in the middle. The cheese didn’t overpower the dish and we took comfort in the overall aroma of the combination.
The Swinton House did not let us down when it came to drinks. The mood of the cocktails matched that of our lunch till then: comforting and leisurely. If you need something sweet and fruit, go for the Sassy Jamun (vodka/ gin, tropical liqueur, spiced jamun, citrus, and yuzu foam). For lesser sweetness yet ample refreshment, we recommend Saint Jcole (gin, fusion liqueur, fresh cucumber juice, citrus). Those who can’t resist a berry element will love Red Head (white wine, enhanced gin, strawberry oleo, lime juice, cranberry soda).
For the main course, you can choose from Indian and European (including Italian pasta and pizza) options. We highly recommend the Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Ravioli. The creaminess of the sauce and stuffing was decadent but not too heavy. We also liked the idea of the garlic bread being placed centre stage rather than the side.
For dessert, you can make your inner kid happy if you order the Molten Chocolate Fondant. It consists of a chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. It comes covered with a candy floss dome that is set ablaze and melts to reveal the inner treasure. We enjoyed the theatricality and the taste.
The Swinton House impressed us with its dedication to infusing food with heartwarming flavour, even as elegant touches were added to it. The next time you’re in Jaipur and want to go beyond classic Rajasthani fare, consider visiting this restaurant for a memorable dining experience on more than one level.
Where: The Swinton House, B, 20, Gopinath Marg, Jayanti Market, New Colony, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302001.