First Number 8; now Number 31
Atmospherics: The thin, long floor plan is a challenge for any interior designer and fortunately, Number 31 has concentrated on getting the nuts and bolts in place: comfortable chairs, adequately large tables and plug-points that are sprinkled generously around. Seating is on the first and second floors as well as on the terrace, akin to Number 8 in Sunder Nagar. However, the partners, who have lost no time in becoming seasoned within a year of their first venture have intentionally made the appearance and menu of each place as different from each other as possible. Number 31 has already become a favourite with cyclists and runners for healthy breakfasts. Ladies who lunch make a beeline for the refreshing salads that are a feature of the menu: though not specifically a diet-food eatery, nothing is particularly greasy or deep-fried and portion sizes are mainly single-serve. Also, in the entire menu, there are just three desserts: surely, there’s a message in that.
Table talk: breakfast Maggi (Rs 285) makes a witty, delicious meal in a bowl consisting of Maggi (that tastes more like the Thai brand Mama noodles) with onion and tomato soffritto, a bit of gravy, crisp bacon and an egg fried crisp at the bottom, while the yolk remained runny. For a bowl of sheer comfort, this one is hard to beat. Shrimp salad (Rs 435) contained a dozen crunchy shrimps, shredded long beans and spring onion greens, mixed in a dressing of soy. If you resent it when people force salads on you, here’s the one to order: it was served cool. Even tastier was the Japanese Caesar salad (Rs 435) with teriyaki sauce, chicken and bacon. The genius lay in the bed of lettuce chunks mixed with slightly spicy mayo and bits of Melba toast, topped with roast chicken slices and bacon that was as crisp as the toast. One more touch of genius is the miso roasted eggplant gyoza (Rs 245), where the wrappers, made in-house, were chewy and firm and the aubergine inside was smoky and soft. It was the interplay that was such a treat.
Plus and minus: my devilled avocado (Rs 395) was served hot: it would have been far, far better chilled. And the otherwise excellent mango and crab sushi (Rs 695) was made with too-sour mangoes: a detail that was easy to check.
Must try: sugar-free waffles with fresh fruit and cream cheese; Bircher muesli, Snicker waffle
Food: 3.25; Service: 3.00; Décor: 2.75
31, Defence Colony Market
Open from 10 am to 12.30 am (from 8.30 am on weekends)
Credit cards accepted; alcohol licence expected shortly