Read, eat, play

The Grammar Room

For a person who is passionate about books, games, food and coffee, can there be any place better than that which offers all of them? The Grammar Room (TGR), a charming hideout within the premises of Mehrauli’s ‘Olive Bar and Kitchen’, is the go-to place when you need to be by yourself or with your bestie.

One afternoon, we spent several hours in the cheerful, calming, aesthetically beautiful space, browsing through books from the personal collection of owner AD Singh and the management team. We discovered that TGR has several board games, and we ended up playing Snakes and Ladders after ages. It’s a good idea to unplug from your gadgets and remember how different life used to be only half a century back.

So why Grammar? Apparently, it’s a reminder to the guest that no matter how busy you are, there has to be time for full stops, pauses and exclamation marks!

“We want our guests to take themselves seriously here in whatever they do, put up their feet and chill, order some good food — if they don’t find it to their liking, help us in making it right and relax,” explains Chef Manager Sahil Sethi. “That’s why my menu card is full of punctuation marks to denote food notes, chef’s recommendations, filling portions, small plates and so on,” explains Sahil with a grin.

TGR is an all-day café. There is a separate section for egg-based dishes like ‘Basic Brekkie’— two eggs the way you want them. If you order ‘Make Some Egg Room’, you get coddled eggs in a jar with a crispy fried poached egg and tamagoyaki omelette.
The star of TGR is ‘Shrimp Benedict Brioche’. Chef Sahil gushes, “Benedict is what I love eating when I go out for a Sunday brunch. Here I have given a twist to it. We have done shrimp cooked with chili garlic paste and topped with poached egg and chipotle hollandaise.”

Then we move on to the ‘Small Plates’ section of the menu. Millet is the new hot trend, perhaps it has stolen the show from quinoa lately. No wonder, TGR’s ‘Just A Millet’ is such a rage here. One of my favourite dishes, it is delicious and healthy — Harissa tossed local millet, served with citrus, roasted peppers, carrots, peanuts, baby potatoes, pickles and chunks of Feta cheese. Burrata & Co. was served next which was tangy, crunchy and citrusy as it had fresh burratta cheese with citrus wedges, rocket leaves and the crunchiness came from the caramelized walnuts.

There is an option to have it with Parma Ham as well.

‘Tartines’ section of the menu is where your finger has to pause. Taste the ‘Shroom Melt’: sauted mushroom topped with melting Gruyere cheese and finished with an egg sunny side up. It uses the complete fungus range, all prepared in-house.

For avocado lovers, ‘Br-avo’ is a good choice — diced avocado, orange, jalapeno, cilantro and pimiento peppers; served on Challah Bread. This is where the chef proves his dexterity in ‘balancing the flavours right’. He picks and chooses contrasting ingredients and then binds them in his unique way.

After another pause — a game of Ludo — I embarked on ‘Big Plates’ journey. In ‘Tuna & Mango Tiradito’, one gets a taste of two countries you never thought of putting in the same sentence — it seems Japanese cuisine has had a lot of influence in Peru. Try the Peruvian Ceviche, where a bowl of tuna ceviche has been paired with mango and finished with Togarashi (Japanese spice mix). This bowl has rice, tuna ceviche, fresh mango, spring onions, prawn crackers, mayo and a spicy sauce.
‘Curry Up Bowl’ is ideal for your Thai food craving: Udon noodles tossed in yellow curry with seasonal greens. Non-vegetarians can enjoy poached egg, chicken or karaage.

Round off your meal with a ‘Perfect Parfait’, millet granola and seasonal fruit on vanilla yoghurt topped with fresh basil. Or indulge in TGR’s ‘talk of the town’ pancakes. They are really soft and fluffy, loaded with your choice of toppings from nutella to honey, maple syrup and so on. What I loved was ‘Cookie & Milk’ — as I dunked freshly baked choco chip cookie in vanilla-infused milk, it brought back childhood memories of a slice of bread lathered with malai (fresh cream). That’s exactly the reason why the dish has found its place in the menu: so that people can tuck into ‘comfort food’.

The Grammar Room’s menu changes every week, at least most of it, so check out the blackboard (also called Chef Sahil’s Mood Board). If you have any allergies or specific dietary preferences, do share with them They are more than willing to whip up a customised dish.

If you are in ‘only’ coffee mood, no worries, choose your type, park yourself at the deck outdoors and relax. Here your only companion is Mehrauli’s green belt. By the way, the coffee scene is taken seriously here as the coffee comes all the way from Koinonia Coffee Roasters of Mumbai. They source specialty coffee beans from Indian farmers, create artisanal roast profiles and celebrate craft Indian coffee. There are also Cold Brews and House Iced Latte besides a whole lot of cocktails and wines by the glass. For every gin-based drink you order, the team plants a tree somewhere in the Capital. That’s part of their Green Initiative.

After rejuvenating myself with loads of good stuff and ideas, it was time to leave my comfortable cane sofa with its bright cushions that pepped up my spirits — and such a pretty place. You could call it my living room for the day!

Address: One Style Mile, Kalka Das Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi

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