The Gist: "I wanted to go back to the streets and New Delhi railway station where they were cooking coconut, then adding prawns. Boiling it like sous vide. Simple and delicious," says owner Hemant Bhagwani.
These modern, creative interpretations of traditional fare were inspired by Indian street vendors. Tapas-style dishes allow for sharing and whimsical presentation (a dish is brought over on a Delhi-style cart, a cocktail is served in a patio lantern) makes mealtime fun again.
Many dishes come directly from Bhagwani’s childhood and travels.
Grub: This is not your typical Indian food. Not only have cream and butter been removed from the menu - with the exception of the Butter Chicken ($13.20) – dishes have been made to be much lighter. "I wanted to create a menu that you don’t see in Indian restaurants," says Bhagwani.
Select from tasting menus, and items including Mumbai sandwiches, curries, grilled items, thalis, and desserts.
Libations: The cocktails list is displayed on beautifully illustrated, colourful playing cards. Drinks are vivacious and served in a variety of vessels:
Murabba Mule – vodka, mango juice, gooseberry preserve, ginger beer, chopped gooseberry preserve, star anise - is served in a large copper mug.
Your New Delhi Whisky Sour – whisky, lemon juice, egg white, roast chai syrup, lime wedge - arrives at the table in a full-size patio lantern. Locked behind glass, access is granted through a straw poking out.
Deets: The 50-seat restaurant also has a few seats at the bar. Dine-in and take-out are available.
Fixtures & Fittings: The room is filled with playful pieces: framed photos of scenes from India are set next to a lineup of utensils, an old typewriter is used to serve the bill. Drawings of Gandhi and Mother Teresa on the wall are accompanied by their quotes, with slight modifications.
Even the plateware is fascinating. Hand-painted copper bowls were brought over directly from India. Delicate drawings of flowers and birds cover plates bought from not from some restaurant supply store, but luxe designer William Ashley.
Off the Menu:
Baingan Fries ($8.80) might just be the best fries you’ve ever had. Buh-bye potato - say hello to crispy eggplant served with a homemade mustard yoghurt dip and mint chutney.
Gosht Dabalroti ($9.90) Bhagwani’s father used to make goat curry on Sundays. On Mondays, Bhagwani and his sisters would pick up white bread, toast it, and eat it with the curry. Inspired by his childhood meal, this rich lamb curry is served on toasted chunks of Pullman bread, with herbs and topped with crunchy, lemony noodles.
Black Pepper Prawns ($12.90) Tiger Prawns get expertly grilled over charcoal and served with red chili, lemon crunchy noodle in, sided with an apple and radish slaw, served in a tiffin box.
Pau Bhaji ($9.90) arrives at the table in a full-on red fondue pot, including the base, warmer and fondue forks. The piping hot blend of mashed veg (potatoes, peas, carrots, green beans, corn, cabbage, onion, tomatoes), green leaves (cabbage) and fresh mint is eaten fondue-style, with thick cubes of toasted pau – an Indian specialty bread. How awesome is that?
Tip Off: Tip Policy is no tipping here. A 12% administrative fee is added to every bill. It is not a tip and none of it is distributed to the employees who serve you. Bhagwani says, "We pay our employees a fair wage ($21-23/hr. instead of basic salary), and they share in Indian Street Food Co. profits."
At the Stove: Sous Chef Kamleshwar Prasad
FOH: Yatin Bhatia
Head Honcho: Hemant Bhagwani
Visiting Hours: Mon to Thurs 5pm –10pm
Fri to Sun – 11am – 10pm
Map It: 1701 Bayview Ave. (smack dab between Eglinton & Davisville)
Phone It In: (416) 322-3270
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