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Review: Is India's first Dunkin' Donuts any good?

Last updated on: June 25, 2012 16:59 IST

Review: Is India's first Dunkin' Donuts any good?

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Hitesh Harisinghani and Abhishek Mande check out the American food chain's first outlet in India. Photos: Hitesh Harisinghani.

The first time I ate a burger I remember hating it. It was an insipid dish that had a cabbage leaf, some mayonnaise, raw veggies and some half-cooked patty served between two bread slices.

It would be another ten years till I would really begin to love the dish and perhaps another ten till I began being selective about the places I wanted to have burgers at. (In Mumbai where I live, there is just one joint that I frequent.)

The American fast food chain McDonald's has been largely responsible for getting me started on the dish I hated the first time, loved the second and began hunting for consciously ever since.

Back in the '90s McDs -- as we used to call it -- was perhaps the first chain of restaurants that brought burgers and French fries to the masses. With its cheerful mascot and the happy ambiance, McDonald's quickly became the place for the young and the restless.

The greatest advantage McDonald's had (and continues to have) was that it served food really fast -- I remember for a short period they would serve the order within 60 seconds or give you a Coke free -- and that they had introduced to us a dish we'd only heard of and seen Hollywood movie stars having on screen.

Since then, the number of the iconic golden arches has increased drastically, serving up largely though not only burgers and french fries.

Many other American institutions have followed suit including KFC, Domino's Pizza and more recently Dunkin' Donuts.

(Incidentally, the last two of the institutions were once invested in/acquired by US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's Bain Capital.)

Branded as Dunkin' Donuts & More in India the chain opened its first branch in New Delhi's Connaught Place amidst much fanfare.


Image: Dunkin' Donuts at Connaught Place in New Delhi
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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When my colleague Hitesh Harisinghani and I visited Delhi's Dunkin' Donuts over a weekend in the city, it looked as busy as it should be on a Saturday evening.

Going by the crowd, it seemed clear that the restaurant had managed to reach out to the age group it wanted to -- young couples, college students and young families.

Having skipped lunch -- it was 7 pm when we went there -- we were quite hungry. So Hitesh chose a Croissant Paprika Chicken Salami and I went for a Spicy Grilled Vegetable Ciabatta Sandwich.

Now, I've always considered sandwiches to be street food and as far as possible that is also where I prefer to have them. Paying exorbitant sums for two slices of breads and vegetables/meat in between has always been beyond me and I have therefore avoided having them in established organisations, those similar to the one I was sitting in now.

Hitesh however is a slightly evolved sandwich soul. He frequents such institutions more often and is probably a connoisseur compared to me.

He tells me that this was one of the finer sandwiches he's had. The chicken seemed fresh and juicy and the thin slice of bread over the salami (I thought till then it was an open-faced sandwich) was soft and just perfect. I took a bite from it and for what it was worth nodded in agreement.

In comparison my sandwich, though vegetarian, was an explosion of flavours -- besides a bunch of veggies that included a considerably large piece of aubergine besides a dash of mayo, a generous helping of olives and  few spices made it a mildly spicy and a well-made sandwich I would remember for a while.


Image: My Spicy Grilled Vegetable Ciabatta Sandwich (left) and Hitesh's Croissant Paprika Chicken Salami


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It was about half way into our sandwiches, we realised we were eligible for a donut worth Rs 40 thanks to a coupon I was holding. Sadly, it was too late to encash on it so we had to let it go.

For the second round, both of us opted for chocolate-flavoured donuts from their 20-something donut spread. And it was this that almost killed it for us, sadly.

The donuts appeared in less than a minute but were served at room temperature. It turns out that they don't make the donuts in the outlet itself but are rather made somewhere in NOIDA and then transported to CP.

This was perhaps the biggest downer for me since...

a) I prefer to have donuts warm and fresh.

b) There was no way of finding out how clean the factory or its surroundings possibly were.

I was told they couldn't heat up the donut for us on request either since they didn't have a microwave!

It wasn't that the donuts we had weren't good. Surely they were presentable to look at and they tasted as donuts should. And that was perhaps my problem with Dunkin' Donuts. The donuts here were just as any other donuts that you may have had in your life -- sweet and cold.

Mad Over Donuts (MoD) has in some ways spoilt the donut eater in India. However small their joint may be, they make the donuts right before you. And they serve them warm and fresh.

There is something reassuring about that, something Dunkin' Donuts will have to work towards correcting.

Surely Dunkin' Donuts & More scores over MoD in many ways -- it has a lot more to offer what with their sandwiches, bagels, milkshakes and smoothies! But if it is donuts you're looking for, your local MoD is still the best place to head to.

Meal for 2: Rs 400 - Rs 600

Dunkin' Donuts & More
N-6 Connaught Place
New Delhi


Image: Revenge may be best served cold but the same doesn't apply to Dunkin's donuts
Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani

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