It’s a bar, a sports centre and a restaurant all rolled into one and that’s the best part about Underdoggs. On the evening of my visit, I saw middle-aged parents with their teenaged children playing board games at one table, as well as the young and trendy crowd getting rowdy at the foosball counter, an indoor version of football. There’s loud music, an atmosphere that transcends merely cool/uncool, a lively party mood, great eats, an imaginative way of serving beer on tap at individual tables and a host of games to play at your own table or in public corners. And did we mention that there are several TV screens including some large ones, all beaming matches and sports channels? The décor of Underdoggs is worth a closer look. The private dining rooms have their own washrooms with hilarious graffiti on the walls, “chandeliers” are made from dozens of sports shoes suspended from the ceiling and attention has obviously been paid to everything, even the smallest detail.
It’s as much of a daytime venue as an evening place: think of it as an indoor playground with dim lights and loud music, and you’ll get the picture. Few people come to Underdoggs only to eat and drink, though of course it’s perfectly possibly to do just that. Competition, however, is the driving force behind it, and you may find yourself at the dart board just because you’re there.
The food is a seamless mix of great snacks from around the world. Of course, there are main courses, but their thunder is stolen by the unusual finger food that constitutes the appetizers and starters. Buzkashi kebab – a tenderloin minced kebab dusted with just a trace of powdered cumin, just like it would be in those regions in Afghanistan where buzkashi would be played. Grilled tenderloin with red wine, green pepper jus (Rs 495) is one of the best in the entire city – tender, flavourful and as thick as a fillet mignon.
There are a couple of Indian offerings on the menu, none however, of the rice and curry variety, perhaps as a subtle crowd filter. Tender galouti kebab canapés (Rs 325) are authentic enough to pass muster at Chowk in Lucknow yet they fit right in among the largely western snacks. Underdoggs Chicken Wings (Rs 275) are available in a number of seasonings including the evocative ‘traditional suicide’ and traditional barbecue. Underdoggs Sliders (Rs 295/275/255 tenderloin/chicken/vegetarian) are small burgers that are a good option when all you want is a snack. Indeed, tenderloin is probably what they do best, going by the multiple options. On the other end of the continuum is their Texas Rodeo burger (Rs 395), also tenderloin. Believed to be the high watermark of burgers in the NCR, it’s on my list of things to try the next time I’m there.
Underdoggs has crowd pleasers too: the chicken cheese burger (Rs 375) is pleasant enough if unremarkable, as are the various pizzas. We tried Underdoggs Boneless hot wing pizza (Rs 350) which is a desi topping as its name suggests: the spices and the cheese do not make a felicitous combination, but for those who need spice in everything they ingest, it’s quite a good option.
Ratings: Food: 3.50, Service: 3.50, Décor: 3.75
F 38, First Floor, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj
Open from 12 noon to 1 am
Credit cards accepted; alcohol served
Meal for two: Rs 1,500