Fusion reaches new heights
Tea bar with Indian street snacks
One or two experiments with the genre of ‘modern Indian’ and suddenly, it has taken a whole new turn. It is my belief that corny name apart, the menu of Mister Chai is the new trajectory that modern Indian food is going to take. Street food, childhood treats, roadside chai – all have been given a clever spin and put in the environs of a hotel lobby. Mister Chai is a tea and coffee lounge, but instead of serving amorphous pastries and sandwiches, it puts Bombay sandwich and channa jor garam on a pedestal and it works. Brilliantly. Order a cup of cutting chai with ginger and cardamom or kadak masala chai and watch the ‘tapri’ service with a brass kettle and chai glasses.
Mister Chai also doubles as the pastry shop from where you can order a pastry or a cake. Some have desi fillings like gulkand and aam papad. If you plan to try the namkeen ka dabba served in a brass tiffin carrier, don’t miss the chakli and the channa jor garam. In the wow pao section, the Goan chorizo pao (Rs 249) is the best, but you can order all three: vada pao, shikampuri pao and chorizo pao for Rs 699. Also quirky are the chilly cheesy and the butter chicken samosas (Rs 249 each/Rs699 for three). I just love chaat, whether in its raw, street-side form or jazzed up in luxe surroundings. All I ask it that the rustic element and the burst of sour, sweet, hot flavours be intact. SPDP (Rs 349) the most succinct name in the history of menu writing, is a platter of gol gappa spheres filled with mashed potatoes, micro greens and matka matar: the small white chanas with just enough yoghurt and tamarind chutney to make the whole morsel moist yet still easy to eat in a hotel setting. Shakarkandi chaat (Rs 349) and kale pakora chaat (Rs 349) are much more filling than some of the other offerings.
Plus and minus: The genius of newly appointed Executive Chef Neeraj Tyagi shines through clearly; some of the flavoured teas are screamingly artificial.
Must try: Firangi bhutta, chocolate toast, poutine goes to India
Food, service, décor: 3.50
Hotel Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel
9am – 9 pm
Credit cards; no alcohol served here
Meal for two: Rs 2,000