Three tiers in search of an identity
By Bodhisattwa Maity
22nd June 2012 11:03 AM
What’s common to most of the cricketers that were part of the Sourav Ganguly-led team that regaled Indian fans during the noughties? If your answer is most of them own eponymous restaurants, you’d be partially correct. Because whether it is Sachin, Zaheer, or das kapitan himself—all seem to have burned their fingers with their ventures in hospitality. Both of the Master Blaster’s properties in Mumbai, Sachin’s and Tendulkar’s, had to shut shop. The same fate befell Sourav’s last year. Then why is it that other cricketers are unwilling to learn their lessons? Could it be because that’s how they are—Harbhajan, never, ever getting the ball to turn; Sreesanth itching to get into trouble despite repeated rebukes; or Sehwag getting caught at third man trying to hit a cute upper cut six—overgrown babies in search of mummy’s kitchen, with lots of dough but little common sense?
The latest to enter the fray is Ashish Nehra, he of the fragile bones and butterfingers. Much like the fast bowler who can be on a rampage one day and a wreck the next, De Villa, the three-tiered restaurant he has opened with his brother at Hauz Khas village, is a chameleon—a cafe, office space, diner, sports bar, rooftop party zone all rolled into one. He has done one better than his mentor, whose venture in Kolkata was merely a lounge-cum-diner. The eager manager said the first floor, which houses a cafe with WiFi, was being promoted as an office space for entrepreneurs like designers, who work on their own out of a laptop and don’t have an office. Here they can work for as long as they want without being badgered by stewards, and avail of food and beverage discounts. It made me wonder whether Delhi’s very own ‘Village’ had, at last, stolen a march in the ideas stakes over its more renowned counterpart in the Big Apple.
The top floor is the rooftop, now converted into a ‘sports bar’ with a projection screen displaying Euro 2012 matches—but with the Delhi summer glaring mercilessly down on us, we quickly retired to the second floor below, giving a miss the tiny rooftop further up, accessed by wrought-iron stairs.
This floor, that came closest to a restaurant in looks, too, had a big Euro 2012 screen that competed with the music blaring from speakers on a 2x4 ft stage in one corner, that was supposed to host live performances, presumably when the DJ went tone deaf. With its mix-n-match furniture and decor, one could be forgiven for thinking they were in design-Sarajevo. This was where patrons were supposed to feel at ‘home away from home when throwing parties’, because of the ‘fluid’ decor.
Thankfully, the food—a ‘around-the-world-in-40-plates’ type menu in keeping with the ethos of the place—was refreshingly tasty. We started with Hongos Cigarro—fried cigars of filo pastry stuffed with mushrooms, and Pesto De Gambas Marinadas—pesto-infused fried shrimp with green apple salsa, both of which were delicious and quite reasonably priced. Next came the house specialty—nazzas—‘na’an base with pi‘zza’ topping, which looked and tasted like thin-crust pizza.
For the main course, I went for the New Country Lamb Rack, while my friend ordered Grilled Norwegian Salmon. Both came in large portions, on a humongous bed of sweet potato mash. The salmon was crisp and fresh, and while the lamb was a bit too chewy and doused with sauce, it, too, was quite delectable. In other words, if grunge is your design sensibility, by all means, give De Villa’s food a chance.
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