Tag Archives: Baba Kharag Singh Marg

Espresso Grill

Rich flavours on pretty plates ♦

Delhi’s largest multilevel parking lot on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, which opened to much fanfare last year, is a desolate, glittering island between the hustle of Hanuman Mandir and the panoply of state emporia across the street. A digital display outside lists the impressive number of available spots, 1,408, less than a quarter of which are ever occupied. The fact that the lot is currently free should attract some traffic, as should Espresso Grill, a surprisingly swank little spot on one corner.

From the earthenware to the wooden furniture, straight black is the theme at this stylish open-kitchen restaurant, which, despite its unpromising name, has a fairly imaginative continental menu with appetising descriptions. The complete liquor and wine list wasn’t available when we visited, but if the mocktails were anything to go by, Espresso should make a strong showing in the drinks department as well. Prohibition was a peachy mixed-juice drink in a hurricane glass, while Baby Bellini was a snifter-full of slushy lemon and mint sorbet topped with ginger ale that inspired rude slurping sounds as it neared empty.

Mint is also a garnish on fresh tzatziki that comes with Greek flatbread with a crunchy topping of seeds and spices and hummus on the side. Another of the chef’s favoured ingredients is cracked black pepper, which pleasantly spiked a few of the dishes we tried. A creamy, olive oil-speckled tomato soup with a terrine of mozzarella, tomato slices and pesto daubs was weather-appropriate, though not extraordinary, and twice-cooked chicken wings with pomegranate molasses were sweet but not saccharine.

The ricotta and spinach tortellini with brown butter and slivered almonds was a bit dry, but stuffed with green and topped with crisped spinach. A slightly over-salted potato roesti came beautifully presented, topped with a tangle of zucchini “spaghettine”, a tapenade of olive and tomato and a pool of cream. The non-vegetarian mains cover the gamut from soy-glazed salmon to steak au poivre; slow-braised lamb shanks were a classy rendition of the standard, with red wine, rosemary and chilli glaze and leeks on the side.

The espresso itself wasn’t all that special, but a hot chocolate pudding with a scoop of intensely-concentrated coffee ice cream was one of the best fondants we’ve tried (and when every other menu has one, that’s something). A dense, chalky pavlova melted in the mouth, and went well with its topping of tiramisu cream and brandy-soaked prunes and figs, but was too big a portion for such a limited palette of flavours. Aside from a few flavour tweaks, Espresso Grill is an appreciated addition to the CP dining scene, and a good spot for lunch between emporia shopping too.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, January 2013.

Published: January 4, 2013

Gargoti Mineral Museum

A hidden gem ♦

This article is part of a longer story on Delhi’s museums.

Dark, mysterious purple amethysts, spiky crystals of chalcedony, rheumy quartz and brilliant blue cavancite line the shelves. It’s not hard to imagine a sighting of the Virgin Mary or an Om within all this lustre (there are, in fact, many gods carved out of ruby or anthracite on display). What we didn’t expect was a Sheru calcite. The block of yellow mineral from Aurangabad was dolled up with plastic eyes, whiskers and a tricolour ribbon in honour of the Commonwealth Games last year. Far more dignified are the 65 million-year-old fossilised dinosaur egg and bones from Dahod, Gujarat. The region was home to Rajasaurus narmadensis (a T. rex-like dino) and it has one of the largest dinosaur hatcheries discovered anywhere in the world. Not that the display tells you this; nor the fact that that these eggs are often sold illegally.

Much is also up for sale at the Textile Ministry’s National Handicrafts Design Gallery & Museum, “curated” by Gargoti, a museum franchise owned by a mineral mining company. Rare gems and more common crystals are labelled “Museum Piece, Not for Sale,” but these cards have prices on the back. The rocks rub shoulders with handicrafts from all over India – mostly National Award-winning pieces. There are some beautiful and wondrous things: minutely-detailed cane weaving; a gorgeously life-like clay pumpkin with its stringy innards faithfully reproduced; a polished slice of a meteor; bits of the Moon and of Mars.

Gargoti Mineral Museum National Handicrafts Design Gallery & Museum (Earth Treasures), Rajiv Gandhi Handicrafts Bhawan, Third Floor, Baba Kharag Singh Marg (+91 11 6470 0053). Rajiv Chowk. Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun noon-7pm. Free.

Read more about Delhi’s museums.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, September 2011.

Published: September 30, 2011