Vintage 31 Bistro and Cafe
Cuisine: Mostly Italian
Blurb: Treat yourself to two hours in this fairytale café
Atmospherics: In that part of Meharchand Market that still has traditional mithai and general merchant shops, Vintage 31 is the hugely likeable venture of a couple whose passion it is. He cooks and she oversees the service. And no matter what time of the day or night you visit, one or both of them are always there. There are just two tables on the ground floor, many more on the first floor and the second floor is a semi covered terrace that is an absolute delight on a sunny day. I hope Mehar Chand Market never goes the Hauz Khas Village way: right now, it is a delightfully funky mix of trendy and traditional, but it is inevitable that the trendy will one day vastly outnumber the traditional. Vintage 31 is either a café, a chai bar, a hangout with a friend or a restaurant to get hearty, tasty food that has an almost homely appeal. The cosy vibe of the café and the warm concern of the owners does tend to overshadow everything else.
Table talk: The chicken cilantro and almond soup (Rs 275) was heavily over-seasoned, but for which it would have been pleasantly earthy. The garlic soup (Rs 220) on the other hand, was perfect in every respect. It was ivory white in colour, with a few slices of sautéed garlic as a garnish. Everything from the soup bowl, the underlay, the paper place mat and the spoon were all white, which made for a stunning picture, and the taste was pure and understated as you would expect it to be. Even the stuffed mushrooms (Rs 285) were just the kind of starter your favourite aunt would prepare for you. The best main course is the Vintage stuffed chicken (Rs 495) featuring a hearty escallope folded over chopped spinach and mushrooms in béchamel. Meat lovers could do no better than to order the Vintage meat loaf (Rs 490), a pleasantly chunky meat loaf with an umami punch. There was no attempt to ramp up the weight of the mutton by using vegetables and for the price, it is a very good deal.
Plus and minus: Vintage 31 is a home away from home, but the menu really should have many more dainty tea-time snacks, cookies and pies to cater to the off-mealtime customer.
Must try: banana and cinnamon smoothie, Home style chicken ham sandwich, gooey mozzarella fingers
Food: 3, Service: 3, Décor: 3
31 Meharchand Market, Lodi Colony
Open from 11 am to 11 pm
No alcohol; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 1500