Of late, the trendy market in South Delhi, Greater Kailash N Block, has been undergoing much changing of addresses. In the space that Full Circle vacated, Ritu Dalmia has set up a Diva Café. It was the need of the hour. The lady with the enviable brand equity has set up her own café, as opposed to running a café for someone else, under their name. That too, she has set it up in the very market that fashionistas rate directly after Khan Market.
Trust Dalmia to put up such a classy space. It is difficult to believe that you are in India: it looks more like a delicatessen in Central Rome! The dark wooden shelves groan with ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook goodies, most notably from the Diva Café menu itself. That means that you can actually pick up not only extra virgin olive oil and pasta but also ravioli prepared in the Diva Café kitchen. All you do is go home, open the packet, drop it in your choice of sauce and claim with a straight face that you made the dish at home!
What is Diva without a few tables to serve café-style food? There is a selection of small plates, a salad bar, fresh pasta, big plates, pizzas and panini to choose from. It’s not all classical Italian, but travels comfortably around the world, notably to the Far East, and the Arab world. And this diva shows her impeccable Italian antecedents by serving the Italian items on her menu in the completely authentic style. No deviations here!
The Charcuterie plate with Salami, coppa, ham with herb butter and crusty bread (Rs 395) is the quintessential Italian antipasto platter but it does not show off the cooking skills of the kitchen as well as say, sesame crusted falafel, served with warm Arabic pita (Rs 240) or phyllo pastry tart with tomatoes, olive oil, Feta cheese and basil. A trend in Diva Café is to pick premium ingredients that do not require much “intervention” in the kitchen. Thus, Roasted beetroot with goat cheese, mixed greens and hazelnut depends on the unusual combination and the play of colours and textures rather than processing and spices or herbs.
My personal preference is the salad bar among all the sections. Each and every ingredient is well-chosen, the great olive oil imparts its own lively flavour and the salads are light on the palate. Each is composed of mixed greens, a citrus ingredient and a luxury element like Blue cheese or Kalamata olives.
There’s no choice between the Pizza section and the Panini: the little café with great style is already very popular for the great pizzas that include Margharita, Bianco (four cheeses; no tomato) and Salsiccie: sausage, red onions and red peppers. Each is a complete meal for one or a main course for two and costs between Rs 330 to Rs 490.
There’s just one offering on this trendy menu that is Indian at all, and that is the very Goan chicken kafriyal curry with rice (Rs 430). I would love to try it on a subsequent visit: if it shares space on this menu, it is sure to be fabulous.
N 8, first floor, Greater Kailash I, N Block Market
Open from 11.30 am to 11.30 pm;
Credit cards accepted; alcohol served