bpb Review: Owl is Well

Originally published in Brown Paper Bag Delhi, January 12, 2017.

The midnight burger has become an heir of sorts to the 24/7 hot dog, the first after-hours trend to help expand Delhi’s traditional late-night kebabs and parathas. A new fly-by-night specimen, operating out of GK-I, adds itself to the flock. 

Knock Knock, Hoot’s There

Steering clear of crowd-pleasers like pasta and—given the dispatcher’s warning— potentially limp fried items, we horn in on the burger section that is Owl is Well’s clear creative focus. Unfortunately, we discover that these sandwiches suffer to some degree from the soggy bread syndrome that afflicts all burgers that must travel, fully constructed, kilometres to reach their end (Bun Intended, the punmaster of GK-I late-night delivery, is not immune). Unless it’s got a “Mc” in its name, the burger is not a naturally delivery-friendly food. The simple solution would be to deliver it deconstructed—but perhaps that’s expecting too much of diners who’ve likely ordered in when they’re past the point of being able to boil Maggi. 

Both our meaty burgers retain their basic structural integrity despite the gooey-ness, but a vegetarian Pattaya Nights slides towards daybreak without much dignity. Those who like a lot of bang for their burger will appreciate an over-abundance of high quality, individually tasty ingredients in each of these dishes: from pulled pork, pineapple, breaded-and-fried shrimp, caramelized onions and kewpie spread of Umami Tsunami; to slow cooked lamb (or is it goat?), melted cheese, chilly and red onion marmalade and brown gravy of G.O.A.T.; and the substantial hunk of tofu in Pattaya Nights, even if it is served with slaw veggies utterly drowned by mayonnaise.

Pecking Order 

‘Porkchy’ pizza also features quality meat and creative pops of flavour. Again, though, it’s a reminder that thin crust pizza is best when travelling forno to table. The crust-to-cheese ratio, plus the lag time, means our pie wins only the title of Miss Congeal-iality—even a trip to the oven doesn’t help much. Dark chocolate cheesecake—possibly the one item naturally easy to transport—is transmogrified into a delivery-friendly frothy mousse in a jar: quite tasty, for its type. 

Owl is Well scores high on service, with the phone operator quite rightly warning us about the kitchen’s distance from our delivery location, and obliging when we insist. Despite being about half an hour out of the usual range, the food flies over fairly quickly, and the delivery man insists we check everything to make sure owl was indeed well. Presentation is also a plus, with dishes packed in sturdy, labelled boxes stamped with the owl logo. 

Perhaps it can’t be helped that these multipart set-pieces, which would be tough acts to pull off even in a sit-down restaurant, are a little too ambitious for delivery. Props to Owl Is Well for trying, though; you might give them a hoot if you’re ever battling insomnia in GK-I.

Getting there: Owl is Well, delivers in and around Greater Kailash I, see the Facebook page here. Call 331060056pm to 4:30am. A meal for two costs around Rs 800. 

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.  

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