Restaurant Review | SodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market …. a second branch of the quirky Irani Cafe, this time in Delhi #parsicuisine #SBOW

“The belly rules the mind.”
Spanish Proverb

SBOW Khan MarketSodaBottleOpenerWala, Khan Market. It was just going to be a matter of time. When AD Singh opened the now almost iconic SodaBottleOpenerWala in Gurgaon it made waves across the NCR. Soon there were groans from folk across Delhi, pleading for a branch in their part of town. With many iconic Irani cafés, a quintessential experience of a near extinct culture and cuisine, downing shutters of late in Mumbai, one might have wondered why Delhi would even consider a rebirth here. Then again, this is AD Singh & Olive …he got it spot on! Again.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon You know I loved the first SBOW that opened closer to home in Gurgaon. I never stopped talking about it. Recently we heard whoops of joy from the Dilliwalahs. A Bawaji joint was opening in the heart of Delhi, and they were loving it! What better location for an iconic Delhi Parsi Cafe than the iconic Khan Market, vibrant and bustling. Tucked away in the heart of Khan market, Olive pays tribute to the dying legacy of the Irani café … bringing it to life in style!

SBOW KhanSBOW at Khan is located on the first and second floor off a long winding food lane, very old world charm. Quite unlike the Cybercity venue which is very retro, French cafe street feel on the outdoors, set amidst new architecture. The feel within is the same … chaotic, crowded, bustling, colourful, quirky, eccentric and real world Irani café. Up the steep stairs in Khan Market and you are once again ushered into a different world. Framed pictures in sepia and black and white from generations of Parsis unknown, actual antiques, quirky quaint mirrors, quotes so reflective of this small tight knit community. Barni glass jars, tiffin carriers, taxi meters, cuckoo clocks, tin boxes…paraphernalia galore, it’ a feast for the eyes!

SBOW Khan Market

Photo Courtesy Lavina Kharkwal

It was a cozy small get together at the launch … food enthusiasts from across the NCR, AD Singh in gentle attendance, drinks and food flowing non stop. Such a fun opening menu brought together by an ace team , drinks did the rounds with the heady Bawaji Nu Thullu and Raspberry Soda amongst the most popular, with the Shikanjiben following a close second. It was time to abandon the camera and nonsensical light headed banter took over!

SBOW KhanWith drinks can food be far behind? The menu sees several new additions and make overs from the first branch. My absolute favorites in starters were Mushroom on Khari, Breach Candy Awesome Okra, Tareli Macchi, Chicken Baida Roti. The egg lovers didn’t stop ranting about the Dukkar Galli John’s Famous Egg Sandwich, and couldn’t tear themselves away from it either. Everyone ate lots. LOTS!

Berry Pulao, Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, GurgaonSoon came main course. Main course? I was stuffed already but one look at the Berry Pulao, a lamb berry pulao at that had everyone grabbing forks again. It is the best offering from SBOW and one not to be missed. It’s a must try on their vast and intriguing menu. Add some Bhendi Bazaar Sheekh Paratha and Kolmi Fry and this gastronomic Parsi journey is even happier. Did I mention the sweetest and funniest young stand up comedian Danesh Irani? That too. He had the captivated audience roaring with laughter with ‘The Last Parsi’ written by Meherzad Patel.

Soda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon

SBOW Khan 5Dessert anyone? I groaned as I was ready to burst but can you keep the fingers away from the delicious to the last crumb 5 Star Brownie? Not possible at all. Also impossible to resist is the Toblerone Mousse which is smooth, silky, indulgent … divine. Glass scraping good stuff. Another very interesting dessert addition is the Bun Maska Jam. Pillowy soft white buns smothered with butter and jam send you right back into a nostalgic journey into the past. Yes they’ve got it spot on. Again! SBOW KhanSoda Bottle Openerwala, Cyberhub, Gurgaon It’s a celebration of a cuisine that faced possible extinction and exposure to a community which is very small and largely unknown for it’s cuisine in North India. Ad Singh with his wonderfully talented team has given Delhi a memorable foodie destination, not once, but twice over! Kudos to the team behind this legacy … very talented and quite unassuming Mohit Balachandran from the food blog Chowder Singh who’s been active with Olive for several years, Head Chef Kulbeer, Cuisine authenticator and Parsi Chef Manager Anahita Dhody

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Food Event | Bloggers Night @ Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New Delhi

“Happiness is…finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”
Johnny Carson

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New DelhiIt’s hard to say no to an invite from Olive at the Qutab. Always the promise of a fab fun filled time out, great hospitality,  innovative food and drinks, relaxed company … all that jazz! I knew I couldn’t make it. It was midweek and I don’t do late night events on weekdays, both kids were under a flu attack, there were virtual floods in the city with incessant rains. Yet Olive beckoned, and I succumbed. It was time to visit Dirty Martini!

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New DelhiIt was a perfect night out. How better to describe the ‘prohibition era‘ of the 1920’s so well captured by the immensely innovative and talented award winning Chef Saby and his team. {As dimly lit as a bar could possibly be, my low light camera skills were severely tested. I got a million shaky blurry  shots, befitting of the 1920’s! The camera was soon abandoned.}

‘The Dirty Martini”, Olive at the Qutub is a 1920s speakeasy inspired bar set in Europe. The hedonistic 1920s encouraging you to enjoy the sweet seductions of the prohibition era when cocktails were served in tea cups; and where live bands, silent cinema and floor shows marked entertainment. An era of molls and gangsters, of flappers and flamboyance.

The menu offers a combination of “speakeasy inspired” concoctions and European cocktails which are twisted, tweaked and crafted for The Dirty Martini at Olive Qutub’. The Dirty Martini is India’s first “speakeasy inspired” bar and not a “speakeasy”.

The tradition of Speakeasies is rooted in the time of prohibition in the US. They were basically illegal bars which usually had a secret back door entry through dirty alleys, tricky doors and basements and access to which was screened or through passwords. A speakeasy brings to mind a smoky bar with bluesy music, dancing to a jazz combo, aromas of comfort food wafting out from the kitchen and a fun, relaxed celebratory atmosphere. Bars where drinks were served in tea cups and the bar could be hidden at the touch of a button.

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New DelhiIt’s a beautiful recreation, a step back in time to capture the fascinating era. We were greeted by warm cups of mulled wine in mud glasses {Chef Saby’s stamp all over}. A typical back door entry {through the kitchen}, we ‘stumbled‘ into the dimly lit quintessentially ‘speakasy‘ ambiance. Extravagant décor accentuated with lavish mirrors, art deco furniture and lamp shades, a piano … and the beautiful Olga who crooned out 1920’s music !

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New DelhiA Smoking Gin made it’s way over, beautifully presented, and as always, perfect to the ‘t’. Very Olive & very intriguing!! Classic and contemporary martinis, beer bottles wrapped in brown paper bags, 20’s floral cups and saucers to clandestinely serve cocktails … every detail covered!

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New DelhiDirty Martini is run by a team of young talented chefs headed by Chef Dhruv Oberoi who has just returned after training with Chefs Ferran Adria and Albert Adria of the El Bulli fame! The food is inspirational .. and of course ‘eat easy’! Classic sliders, hot dogs, finger foods, the menu focuses on fresh produce and easy to eat food. Finger licking good too with inventive names that do a merry dance in the head.

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New DelhiBig Boss Toast which kicks the taste buds with goat cheese, chili jam and berries, a Shebeen Sandwich with Harissa, artichokes, feta pate and apricot chutney … good food, fresh and flavourful! The TDM Chicken, batter fried and yum, served with chipotle mayo. Delicious … as was the Shrimp Jammer. Another huge favourite was the Gangster Slider … perfect flavours to the tenderloin patty!

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New Delhi One of my favourites was the soul warming and indulgent Godfather’s Stew. Casablanca was the vegetable version – seven veggies in there, and the non vegetarian version, the Starving Mafia, a slow cooked lamb goulash that hit the ball out of the park. Both outstanding! {Sangeeta managed to get the goulash recipe from ever obliging and large hearted Saby.}

Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New Delhi Prohibition ended sweetly with desserts that warmed up the winter night! The Smoking Cigar … a  chocolate fountain gurgled happily as ‘live churros’ were piped into a huge bowl of simmering oil. Little glassfuls of chocolate sauce were on offer. Nice, but what I absolutely loved was the Nutty Auntie ; charming little apple and walnut tarts with a drizzle of maple! ’twas a night to remember!Dirty Martini, Olive Bar & Kitchen, New Delhi

Thank you Saby, Astha and Dhruv for this fabulous journey back into time. No one can do it better than Olive!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


Blog Event | Our MasterChef Australia moment … Breakfast with George Colambaris at Olive Beach, New Delhi

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
Gilda Radner

Breakfast at Olive with the MasterchefsThe Best thing in life is ‘the unexpected’. Pinch me, was I dreaming? This was one of those days. Didn’t think in our wildest dreams that we’d get an opportunity to meet up with Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris of MasterChef Australia. They’ve created tsunami like waves in India on a multi-city visit promoted by the Aussie government. Savouring Indian food from fine dining to street food, rickshaw rides, book signings, farm visits, jalebis & malpuas, chai & much more, miles of newspaper columns ran daily accounts of their India trip! The Bloggers Table was honoured to be a small part of the visit.

Delhi Bloggers Table with George Colambaris, Aussie MasterchefWhat Masterchef Australia has done to food in India is HUGE! Schedules were built around the MC TV slots, dinner appointments cancelled, generations glued to the telly to watch the euphoria and emotional drama unfurl; a strange sense of disbelief as the youngest to the oldest sat united in viewership. Uncanny but true. The show changed the way we perceived food, especially the ability to home cook & create! A generation of young culinary enthusiasts were born, while ‘resident’ cooks became innovative and adventurous!

Astha @ Breakfast at Olive with the MasterchefsSo when we heard the duo were visiting there was a song in the heart, yet a good meeting seemed out of reach. It was Astha’s hesitant call late one evening that nearly had me pass out. She asked if I was free on Friday to meet Gary & George. I almost died! Free? I was already doing a crazy jig. The kids were duly warned not to fall  sick on Friday, the 27th!!

with George ColambarisThis is what dreams are made of. The invite was for an informal breakfast with Australia MasterChefs Gary & George hosted by the folk we love to love –  good old Saby {Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, India’s top chef}, the very sweet Chef Astha at the wonderful Olive – chic, rustic and warm!

Breakfast at Olive with the MasterchefsInformal breakfast with Gary & George strictly by invitation only? You will not believe how I shot up in my teens eyes. Suddenly from screams of “No, you’re kidding, don’t tell me, not possible…”  to “YOU ARE???” Then it was a L O N G list of friends who wanted autographs … 

Olive Beach, New Delhi The day was truly the best in a long time. Love the idea of a breakfast meet where everyone walks in chirpy, bright & happy, tea and coffee are on the boil, good moods bubbling happily and clear headed mindless chatter takes over!

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchefs‘Olive Bar & Kitchen’ never fails to deliver. The hospitality, the punctuality, the attention to detail, the warmth, the camaraderie … so characteristic of this beautiful place! 

As always, we were greeted by ‘ever charming‘ Astha and nattily turned out Saby who is quite the best. Warm, friendly, funny, chatty, relaxed, hospitable … more about him at the Leonardo Meet & the Blogadda Workshop.

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchef, George Colambaris Sadly, Gary couldn’t make it as he got hit by the dreaded Delhi belly. George Colambaris was at his entertaining best. Spoke passionately about food, culture, the beginnings of Masterchef, Matt and his 45 minute make-up routine vs Georges own 5 minute make-overs. Oh, his love for the jalebi too, lactic fermentation and all!

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchef George ColambarisSupermarkets are for toilet paper!” You got to love this man! The audience hung on to every word he said, roaring with laughter at his witty quips. He talked about fresh seasonal produce, home cooked meals, introducing kids to ‘real’ food, growing vegetables in your backyard, how MasterChef changed his life …

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchef, George ColambarisHe took questions from the audience which included an enviable line up of all the top chefs of Delhi who had turned up in their crisp whites to meet the two. The Ozzie wit shone through, a man passionate about his Cypriot-Greek heritage {reminded of my Greek witty friend Peter @ Kalofogas} yet characteristically Aussie in every way. Laid back, honest, so grounded, he spoke from the heart!

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchef, George ColambarisHe did get flustered by a short, simple question from Ruchira, “Food or sex?”, she posed rather nonchalantly. That got him rather red under his collar and for once at a slight loss for words. The poor embarrassed guy eventually asked if there was another question! 

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchef, George ColambarisWe ate … LOTS! Good food once again, and well managed as always. Breakfast IMHO is a difficult task yet Saby & his team made it seem effortless. A sweet man piped delicious churros while masala chai did the rounds in earthen pots {a break from Olive tradition}. There was fresh fruit, cheese platters, varieties of tostadas, pigs in blankets, amuse bouches, financiers, baklava, chocolate fudge cake, nut tarts … and much more.

Breakfast at Olive with the Masterchef, George ColambarisAs you can see we really enjoyed the ‘event’ and loved the company too. Thank you Saby & Astha for thinking of us. It was truly wonderful …

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

The Best thing in life is ‘the unexepected’ as I said in the beginning. A good day got even better as I got an early Christmas from a friend and food blogger in Belgium as her sweet hub flew into Delhi for a music fest the same night. Thank you Finla for this HUGE surprise ‘sack’ of goodies you sent for me. I am at a loss for words, but brimming with ideas! I also unexpectedly won a Phillips Air Fryer at the Philips Foodathon the next day … lucks looking up!

 

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India



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