Lebanese in a new address
Atmospherics: Lebanese food in the capital has been something of a mystery. We seem to love it if it is presented in a certain ambience and in a specific style. Once it is found outside those circumscribed borders, we appear to lose interest. Even more peculiar is that if Lebanese mezze is made by local chefs, we seem to enjoy it, but if a chef from the Middle East makes it, we aren’t taken by it in any great measure. This is apropos of the runaway success of the wholly indigenous Shalom, the parent brand of Laidback Café. After all these years, the cuisine from Shalom has come to be thought of as de facto Lebanese food and any other restaurant, whether the chef or owner is from Lebanon, Morocco or Syria, is looked at with distrust! Restaurateur Dhiraj Arora has reason to be very proud of his achievement. His latest restaurant, Laidback Café, also has a smattering of Middle Eastern mezze in the menu, and it is this that draws in the crowds, notwithstanding that the latest branch, in Saket, has some competition right next door! Laidback Café is T shaped, the entrance section having conventional seating and the rear containing lounge seating. The DJ is at the rear, so if you want to have an audible conversation with your companions, sit near the entrance.
Table talk: You simply cannot go wrong with the vegetarian mezze platter (Rs 895): it has been made for just over a decade according to the exact same recipe and the taste and texture of the individual elements never differ. There is hummus, babaghanoush, cacik, tabbouleh, mukhalil, falafel, corn and mushroom tarts, cheese sambosik and pita bread. If I wanted to be predictable, I would have ordered either shish taouk (Rs 595) or chelo kebab (Rs 525) both served with a side and pita. However, I wanted to try the Indian offerings, so I ordered galauti kebabs (Rs 525) served on sheermal. Are they the most authentic in town? Perhaps not, but in this Middle Eastern ambience, they were perfect. As was dalcha Moradabadi (Rs 495), a thick puree of various dals seasoned with powdered fragrant garam masala. Unusual and a great change from watery dal.
Plus and minus: Dismayingly commercial music!
Food: 3.25; Service: 3.25, Décor: 3.50
M – A03, Restaurant Block, DLF Place, Saket.
+91 8587894585 / 011 49865887
Open from 12 noon to 1 am
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 2,500