Wednesday, 9 May 2018

This Gorgeous Cafe in Mehrauli Serves The Yummiest Eggs Benedict

Restaurateur AD Singh is a maverick when it comes to introducing new concepts paired with delicious food and drinks. His latest brainwave was to involve the young creative professionals, Tanya Bhardwaj and Vishwani Marwah, into transforming the beautiful space of the Greenhouse within Olive Bar and Kitchen into an all-day café. Through the years, these girls had worked out of many cafes in Delhi, hence the initial idea metamorphosed into The Grammar Room - a quaint space conducive to reading, working, putting your feet up, letting the caffeine buzz kick in, soaking up some sun or simply ‘chilling’.

The Grammar Room has the perfect ambience to chill and soak in the
lush Mehrauli greenery.

We walk past the white-pebbled courtyard of Olive and enter the café that is flooded with natural night, stacked with books, games and even blankets to make you comfortable. The outdoor deck is even more beautiful as you step up close to the gorgeous green ridge of Mehrauli. The Grammar Room serves an array of artisanal coffees, but since it is almost dusk we decide to start with the infused G&Ts. As we raise a toast with a raspberry sorbet (a rose based cocktail) and a hibiscus infused gin and tonic while gazing at the orange-hued sky through the lush foliage, we happily conclude that this is also the perfect spot for a sundowner.

Head here for a sundowner,
as well as the delicious all-day menu.

And when Chef Dhruv Oberoi and Chef Sahil Sethi spearhead the menu, one can expect a lot of oomph even in fare that is supposed to be easy, comfort food. Highlights include various all-day breakfast dishes - the shrimp benedict brioche is the perfect example of how the food on offer is comforting, yet far from predictable – the chilli prawns in this case uplifting the eggs benedict to a gourmet level. All the breads are baked fresh in-house at 11am and 4pm. This ensures that the tartines served on challah bread are melt-in-mouth delicious with toppings ranging from mushrooms in Gruyere cheese to diced avocado with orange, jalapeno and pimento peppers.

Since it is The Grammar Room, the menu is expressed with commas, exclamations, semi-colons and full stops, translating into small plates, chef’s recommendations, dishes that are ideal for extending your meal and filling portions or big plates, respectively. While the small plates include refreshing salads and a hearty chicken broth, the big plates tilt towards Oriental influences with options like the katsu chicken sandwich, a Japanese sticky fried rice and udon noodles tossed in a yellow curry, marking yet another distinction from Olive. Overall, there is something for everyone, and especially for the already-regular customers, there is something for every mood. Besides the regular menu, do look up the day’s specials that are displayed on a blackboard that promises to celebrate fresh produce as well as Chef Sahil’s special French fries!

And although the dessert section is at the end of the menu, again, the dishes on offer can work for anytime of the day – whether it is the perfect parfait with millet granola, strawberries and kiwis with vanilla yogurt (that can be a breakfast of champions) or the comforting cookie and milk, a freshly baked choco-chip cookie dunked in vanilla infused milk.

The Grammar Room, One Style Mile, Mehruali, New Delhi.
Ph: 01129574407/08.
Timings: 10am to 12midnight.

An edited version of this article first appeared on on May 4, 2018. 

This 3-in-1 Space Has a Food Truck, A Chic Lounge and a SpeakEasy

With some of the finest restaurants in Delhi NCR, Aerocity is slowly yet surely becoming the go-to destination for residents as well as visitors to the capital. Swanky bars and nightclubs at par with international standards are also upping the glam quotient. The latest to join the pack is Playground at JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity. While the hotel’s F&B team has already marked its success with one of the best buffets in the city at K3 and fantastic Japanese fare at Akira Back, Playground adds an element of fun with its 3-in-1 offering.

While the interiors are chic, we loved the Graffiti style art work.

What you have at Playground is a food truck serving up fun food in a cool alfresco area, a casual lounge that offers more than 50 craft beers along with other spirits and a little more exclusive speakeasy that requires an invitation to enter and is well-stocked with fine wines and whiskeys. At the helm of the bar is Tzvika Furman, a mixologist from Tel-Aviv.  While he enjoys playing with fresh ingredients, fruits and herbs his personal favourite is the Cold In Shadows, from the Speakeasy menu. It is a refreshing combination of Campari, raspberry liqueur, and fresh lime juice, with an orange wheel. If you’re up for trying something new go for the innovative PB&J - a whiskey based cocktail inspired from a classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The Food Truck has a good choice of Refreshing Cocktails
and Comfort Food like Croquettes, Sliders and Bruschetta.

Needless to say, all the three spaces are done up in distinct styles ranging from casual and chic to dark and sexy. What ties them all together is the funky wall art that livens up the modern architecture of the hotel. Done by none other than Yogesh Saini, the brain behind Delhi Street Art, the pop of colours is certainly eye-catching and the graffiti also has a hidden clue to the entrance of the speakeasy.

Food on Offer
Burrito with Heirloom Tomatoes, delicious Gambas al Ajillo,
Beer battered Seabass, succulent baby back ribs.

Coming to the food: While small plates dominate the menu, the food truck lives up to our expectations with its array of sandwiches, poutine, hot dogs and falafel. Chef de cuisine Rishi Verma sources the finest ingredients locally as well as internationally. While the creamy burrata comes from Goloka Farms in Gujarat many seasonal greens are supplied by Krishi Farms. Not only are some meats and seafood imported, but heirloom tomatoes come from France, red and green jalapeños from Mexico, baby romaine from Belgium, and so on. He also makes some spice blends in-house to lend a unique flavour to regular dishes. All this transforms into delicious food from the subtle flavours of artisanal burrata with basil pesto, clear tomato consommé and pine-nuts on a bed of heirloom tomatoes to the succulent in-house smoked baby back ribs. The gambas al ajillo are classic Spanish-style prawns cooked in white wine, lemon juice, chillies and garlic, served with freshly baked bread that is equally delicious. Beer battered seabass is served as fish n chips and the ultimate Playground chicken wings are tossed with a finger-licking hot 65 sauce. Vegetarians are equally well thought of with purple potato croquettes stuffed with spinach and halloumi and white truffle oil scented porcini ragout on ciabatta. For sweet endings, indulge in a decadent 66% Valrhona chocolate cake or try the salted caramel crème brulee.

Our verdict in short: go, have fun at Playground!

Playground, JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity
Asset Area 4, Hospitality District, Delhi Aerocity, New Delhi, Delhi 110037
Phone: +91 11 4521 2115
Timings: 11am to 1am
Cost for Two: INR 3000/-

An edited version of this article first appeared on on February 28, 2018.