Salads and more, with a side of sunshine. ♦
January has melted into February, disappearing with a last huff of fog, and with it is going the feasibility of al fresco dining in Delhi. Our hunt for brunch spots that rival the conviviality of Lota — where everyone now recognises everyone else — and the easy nostalgia of American Diner brings us to the erstwhile site of Rara Avis.
Rising from the ashes of that commendable—but perhaps unsustainably ambitious— fine dining establishment is Fig & Maple, a sister restaurant to Shahpur Jat’s popular Ivy & Bean. Rara Avis’ round-backed wooden chairs and gilt-framed paintings are gone; Fig & Maple is no bird of bright plumage, but a spruce, functional, whitewashed space. The tables are empty when we arrive, as are (mostly) some shelves where a library will be situated.
Up another flight of stairs, however, several groups of Dilliwallas in pashminas and athleisure are enjoying the fake grass, real sunshine, and pretty wall garden of the rooftop seating area. We’re left to salivate in peace — for slightly too long, actually — over a menu that veers towards brunch, with lengthy detours into pasta grilled meats, and other mains.
Fig-ment of tooth
FWhen our glasses of orange and watermelon juice do arrive, they are fresh as advertised, although each misses its promised basil and mint, respectively. This green devolution is quickly forgotten at the sight of a Fig & Maple salad, bursting with herbage. Beautifully arranged—a verdant crescent of bitter mizuna (a type of mustard), tender spinach, lolla rossa and other leaves, strewn with halved green figs, strawberries, apple slaw, cape gooseberries, walnuts and blobs of goat cheese—it takes mere minutes to demolish.
Next up, “classic benny” assumes welcome liberties with the brunch staple. A cheesy American style biscuit, incorporating the classic chive garnish, replaces the usual English muffin; and we are too preoccupied by crisp-skinned new potatoes and gooey sous vide eggs to care whether the “ham”, as it’s described on the menu, is actually the traditional Canadian bacon or not. Tant pis, sous vide lamb shanks are unavailable; a replacement order of butter garlic prawns on wild rice is perfectly good, if not a stand-out.
Rather than sample chocolate orange or Japanese-style cotton cheesecake desserts, we wrap up with “Dolores Park” French toast. The name, like many others on the menu, is a hat-tip to Fig & Maple’s California stylings; the dish itself is a perfect amalgam of sweet and salty, with challah-like bread dripping with the fat of its bacon crown and the syrup of its caramelised banana raiments.
A chat with the restaurant’s chef and owner Radhika Khandelwal (whose time in Australia is reflected in the food at Ivy & Bean) reveals that ingredients are sourced from a farm in Faridabad, and that the menu will change to reflect available produce. Lucky for us, since Fig & Maple looks set to be our new brunch place for all seasons, and we’ll be back before the winter’s out.
Getting there: Fig & Maple, M-27 Greater Kailash-II, M Block Market. Meal for two from Rs 1,000. C
This story was originally published on Brown Paper Bag.