Hauz Khas Village is filled with a new creative energy that is pretentious and charming in equal measure. It is also filled with Tolstoy-reading, double macchiato or Old Monk drinking sorts who can expound at length about everything from whether hemlines are up or down this season (this from the design crowd that have made The Village their home) to how shallow Bollywood is (even as they try to work out whether Rekha has had “work” done) to weightier matters like melting glaciers and nuclear disarmament.
In the middle of this bubbling cauldron of creativity is a calming space called The Living Room. You climb two flights of stairs just as you enter the market and come to the three-level TLR that is the hangout for those who show off about the fortune of having their office in The Village.Word of mouth has also spread through The Lonely Planet circles because many tie-died tourists and dreadlocked foreigners can be found chilling on the balconies.
At the entrance is a pair of cracked black leather wingback chairs. They look much-loved and comforting. The best thing about TLR is that they have not done the usual Delhi restaurant thing of throwing lots of money at the décor. No fancy motifs or gilt-edged anything. It looks like someone scoured the Amar Colony furniture market for vintage pieces or anything vaguely art deco-ish and threw it together after cleaning it all up.
The food is café style, mostly continental. It is basic fare cooked well and there a good selection of popular café dishes — fish and chips, stuffed chicken breasts, grilled lamb chops, risotto, panini’s, salads, pastas and soups, all priced well.
Best thing is that they serve an English-ish breakfast until 5 pm but, like many Delhi restaurants, this amounts to nothing more than scraggy bits of overcooked bacon and eggs cooked too long or not long enough. A smattering of strangely flavoured grilled vegetables that tasted like leftovers, a dry piece of lamb patty and toast is what you will get for a good Rs 495. You can order rosti potatoes, grilled mushroom and baked beans on the side for about Rs 30 each which turns the breakfast into just the right size of meal for Sunday brunch. But, on the Sunday I did try this, I got the side orders 10 minutes after the bacon and eggs arrived.
The breakfast disappointment aside, TLR serves good food. Best of these is the Good Morn’un, a New York style burger (Rs 415) topped with egg, bacon and cheese. This is a good old-fashioned burger dripping sauce and calories with a nicely made patty and fresh greens, and is utterly delicious. If you are going to have this, skip the starters and you’re unlikely to have space for dessert. And you will go back for it.
We started with the sweet lamb (Rs 335), nice enough but too many competing flavours — it was soaked in red wine and rosemary, glazed with honey and then served with sweet wholegrain mustard. Much better was the mushroom duplex (Rs 245), stuffed with jalapenos and two types of cheese and deep fried, yes, but that’s probably why they were delicious.We also tried a very tasty Stuffed Pollo (Rs 415), chicken breast stuffed with asparagus and cheese, served with garlic baby potatoes.
Service is friendly but haphazard.In cooler weather the terrace is a lovely place to nurse your beer with side orders of French fries, onion rings or cheesy garlic bread and eavesdrop on the conversations of travellers, expats, fashion designers, art students and all the cool young people who have found a home from home.