Monday, 25 June 2018

This Project is a Delicious Import from Mumbai to Delhi

Pizza is undoubtedly the favourite food of the millennials, and probably of the generation before and after! We all have our preferences from the cheesy and loaded Chicago style deep dish to the thin and flavourful Tuscan style pizzas. No matter what we choose, with all the cheese and carb overload we hardly ever associate pizza with weight-watchers! How about one that suits this all-important strata of restaurant-goers? Leggera pizzas, inspired by Naples’ classic fresella bread that is hollow in the center, allows enough room to add a refreshing salad to keep a healthy balance to this soul-satisfying dish. Chef Jerry Thomas has introduced this at Delhi’s newest import from Mumbai – The Runway Project.

Clockwise from Top Left: Leggera Pizza; Orange is the New Black
Baby K; Lust-Have Prawns.

Following a successful stint of The Project Series in Mumbai, The Runway Project has come to wow the capital with its trendy and trendsetting fare. Just as one witnesses seasonal collections on a designer’s runway, so will this venture by PizzaExpress feature a changing menu. On offer currently is the ‘Autumn-Winter 17-18 collection’ with dishes entitled The Micro Mini, Size 0, Wardrobe Malfunction, The Makeover, Red Carpet and so on that live up to its fashionable theme. The show window outside the restaurant actually showcases some of the latest fashion, hence tying in couture with the bar and kitchen.

“We definitely have a strong Italian backbone from PizzaExpress, but want to showcase Italian cuisine from around the world,” explains Chef Jerry. So while you have Calabrian style pizzas, the Leggera pizzas will have us going back for more. There is a wide range of toppings to choose from – pomodoro pesto to extra hot American, margherita with bufala to lamb meatball. For a change, we opted for pizza bianco or white pizza with alfredo sauce, truffle oil and blue cheese crumble. A good choice, this was complemented with a refreshing arugula and green apple salad in the center.

From the small plates, Baby K is a super hit! This vegan mousse is made with baby spinach, kale, walnuts and tofu, served with rosemary and sea-salt crackers, it is as delicious as it is healthy. Another trendy dish is Orange is the New Black. It’s a tuna salad with orange segments, olives, capers and a tomato aioli. The extensive list of mains will leave you spoilt for choice from halloumi and millefeuille to pork chops, pulled lamb and lamb shank. While the red carpet is a Norwegian salmon, SS18 is a sashimi-grade grilled tuna.

Vegetarians are well thought of with dishes like the Imitation – a delicious mock duck and spicy barley preparation – as well as eggplant stuffed fresh, warm ricotta and the flower arrangement which is a pretty plate with broccoli flowers, roasted shallot petals, charred leaves and feta espuma. Going by all that we sampled, this restaurant proves that quantity does not necessarily hamper quality, giving us enough reasons for repeat visits.

The cocktails too are Runway Chic.

Although the dessert menu is limited, with just three options when we visited, the list of cocktails matches the extent of the food on offer. From the show stopper to the blonde, the drinks are mixed well and served in chic styles.

The Runway Project by PizzaExpress, 21A, 2nd Floor, Select City Mall, Saket, New Delhi 110017.

An edited version of this article first appeared on on April 25, 2018. 

NicoCaara: A Chic, Delectable Space at the glitzy new Chanakya

If ‘modern Indian’ is the trend forward, then two wonderful homegrown brands come to mind – Nicobar and Caara. While the former is the lifestyle brand by the Good Earth family, housing cool chic clothes, irresistible home ware and stylish travel gear, the latter is known for its delicious small plates and 'flying buffets' that they cater for at the capital's swish soirees. And when these two come together the result is nothing less than fantastic!

Nicobar recently turned two, and opened their second store in the capital at the new and glitzy ChaNaKya. The celebration was marked by their first ever in-store café in collaboration with Caara, resulting in the delectable space – NicoCaara. We can predict this coming together to be a success from day one since the underlying philosophy of both the brands is their focus on quality, seasonality, and their emphasis on local artisans and sustainable choices.

With a promise to transport you to the seaside of it’s namesake island in the Indian Ocean, the Nicobar collection offers a refreshing and contemporary collection of soft, eco-friendly clothing. Think breezy dresses, comfy tops and kurtas, luxe sleepwear as well as sarees and dupattas that suit the progressive mind-sets of millennials. Men are well catered for too with tony jackets and shirts, trousers and kurtas that they’ll be proud to sport on a hectic work day or an evening out in the city. In short, Nicobar makes ‘Indian’ look stylish and modish for a global audience! And if you thought we’re gushing so far, wait till you hear us talk about the homeware. From stoneware to marble accessories, rustic slate to glittering glass we’re spoilt for choice. Furnishings in organic cotton and soft jute as well as some colonial style furniture ensure that this is a one-stop shop. The design of this flagship store too echoes the aesthetics of the collections on display. The dedicated spaces for fashion, home and travel are organized around a tropical verandah complete with lush plants and a textile swing hanging from the ceiling, making browsing a laid-back, almost therapeutic experience.

The launch party had the creme de la creme of Delhi swooning at the gorgeous stuff and tucking into soul satisfying fare. The small plates menu focuses on seasonal, local produce. Farm to fork cuisine takes on a literal meaning since most of the vegetables for the extensive choice of salads on offer come from their own farms where they are grown free from chemicals. Breads and pastries are made fresh and by hand and only organic eggs are used in Caara’s kitchens. This not only ensures that the trendy fare on offer tastes delicious, the underlying intention is to nourish and shy away from ingredients like refined flour and sugar preferring local grains as well as sweeteners like coconut sugar and jaggery. But no, this is not a ‘health café’. Expect droolworthy dishes like Srilankan crab cakes and turmeric and dill marinated red snapper. New Zealand lamb chops and miso duck slice find pride of place next to kohlrabi and buffalo salad and coriander, corn and kale pancakes. There is literally something to excite all sorts of palates. While we see ourselves going back repeatedly to eat as well as shop, we sure that we are going to order one round of the meringue pavlova with seasonal tropical fruits on each visit for its sweet and crunchy, tangy and refreshing goodness. And when you go, remember to stock up on their delectable range of dips made with the finest ingredients – pesto, roasted onion, hummus and more – to carry some of the deliciousness back home with you.

NicoCaara, 2nd floor, The ChaNaKya, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.
Ph: +91 9773987430
Meal for two:  Rs 1200++ 
Monday to Sunday : 11am-10pm

A version of this article first appeared on on April 4, 2018. 

Delhi's Bikaner House Now Has a French Connection

What do you get when you cross a French patisserie with an Indian heritage building? L’Opera Salon de Thé by Chor Bizzare!

Nine years after opening the flagship store at Khan Market, L’Opera has opened its 16th outpost in Delhi within the beautiful environs of Bikaner House, a 19th century building that is now known for hosting many book launches and art exhibitions, and of course for Old World Hospitality’s Kashmiri restaurant - Chor Bizarre. The difference between the first and the latest outlet is the expansive seating, with a chic French ambience indoors along with a refreshing alfresco space, ample parking and easy access as opposed to the bustling Market, and last but not the least, an additional variety of coffees, soups, salads, a range of Feuilletés, lasagne and light French meals.

“When we started L’Opera just a year after moving to New Delhi, it was not just a commercial venture,” says Frenchman and chairman, Kazem Samandari, adding that the idea was to share French culinary culture with the city that they made their home. And since the French give equal importance to the aesthetics as they do to their cuisine this ‘tea room’ is almost a slice of Cote d'Azur in the heart of Lutyen’s Delhi. But it is heartening to note that although the Salon de Thé seems more luxurious, the prices are at par with all the other L’Opera outlets. In an attempt to bust the myth of being ‘pricey’, co-founder and managing director Laurent Samandari reveals that most of their prices are lower than the patisseries in swanky five star hotels whilst the quality of offerings is substantially superior.

Since this space is operational from 8am to 10pm it is ideal for breakfast as well as coffee, French pastries and breads and light meals through the day. We recommend starting with a cup of coffee of your choice – espresso, cappuccino, macchiato or latte – served with the signature petite madeleine, and move on to the new offerings. Bite into a Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame, sandwiches made with pork ham, milk bread, béchamel sauce and gooey melting cheese inside and on top {and a fried egg on top for Croque Madame}. Enjoy the flaky goodness of a feuilleté, a lightly seasoned puff pastry, with the choice of fillings ranging from mixed vegetables, mushroom, cheese & tomato and chicken leek. All the small plates are served with a green salad, olive tapenade and Provencal tomatoes that are baked tomatoes stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs. If you want something lighter, the seasonal soups that are served with a side of cheese bread are perfect. Take your pick from tomato, beetroot, pumpkin or carrot soup to enjoy the last of the Delhi winter. For something more substantial, there is freshly baked lasagne. And when at L’Opera, always round your meal off with eclairs, pastries or macarons and pack some to go!

L’Opera Salon de Thé by Chor Bizzare, Bikaner House, New Delhi.
Phone: +91 9971005591

This article first appeared on on February 19, 2018.