Chalchitra café. When I heard the name for the first time, all shades of black and white came to my mind. A place adorned with memorabilia from Black and white era is what I pictured. However it turned out to be a normal café/restaurant with few framed posters of movies on its wall. Honestly speaking, very average looking interior, with a movie theme done just because they had to do something. Or maybe I missed something.
I was visiting the café with Himanshu and Ashima Sharma, a couple from FED as my guests. We started with a look at the drinks menu, besides the usual cocktails, there was a special section with very ‘filmi’ sounding names, however there was no description given against them. As a restaurant, if you are experimenting with your food and drinks, and giving them names which are unique to your establishment, you have to write an explanation on what they are. With names like Kashmir Ki kali (Cocktail) and Meethi Mirch (Mocktail) one can never guess what is in store, however with little help from our server we ordered them both along with another mocktail called Strawberry Honey Nuts. Kashmir ki kali turned out be a Mojito based on Vodka, however overpowering mint flavor turned us off, and that drink was left unfinished. Strawberry Honey Nuts was exactly what was promised, no surprises there and nothing to write about it. However the highlight of the drinks was Meethi Mirch, which was a brilliant combination of Grape juice & Chocolate syrup topped with Tobasco sauce. Maybe it can be attributed to my taste of all things chocolaty and/or hot, I am in love with that drink. Infact, just thinking about it as I write, is making me want one.
Looking at the starters menu, we were spoilt for choices and ended up ordering both veg. and non veg. Tandoori platters. Non vegetarian platter had Chicken Wings, Chicken Tikka and Mutton Seekh Kebab, while the vegetarian one consisted of Hari Mirch ka Paneer Tikka, Aloo Makki Seekh and Tandoori Ghobi. Being a vegetarian, Paneer Tikka is the most common tandoori dish that I end up eating, and Hari Mirch Paneer Tikka is one of the better ones that I have tasted. The paneer was well marinated and marinate was really different, unlike anything I had eaten before. Gobhi was strictly okay, with chef taking the standard Tandoori marinate route, while I did not like the Aloo Makki seekhs. Though there is not much to say for Veg Seekh Kebabs, their kebabs seemed to be tailored a bit to be ‘chatpata’, which is not the way I like mine. Talking about non-vegetarian, none of the items managed to make an impression on Himanshu or Ashima. Chicken Tikka was the only thing that they appreciated a bit.
Coming to the main courses, I must admit they have very impressive and innovative items on the menu and making choices was not going to be easy. Being the foodies that we are, three of us ended up ordering what seemed like a long list of items:
- Zucchini Trifolati
- Butter Chicken with Laccha Parantha
- Rajma ke Galouti with Ulte Tawe ka Parantha
- Veg Khichda
- Non Veg Khichda
Out of everything from the list above, only Zucchini Trifolati was a disappointment, more from the size of the serving than the taste itself. While driving back, I was talking Himanshu about the Butter Chicken and he felt it was perfectly acceptable, however it did not stood out. In a city like Delhi, a better butter chicken would be available at lot of places, however there was nothing wrong with the one that was served to us either.
Now coming to the part of food that really blew us off, and would account for major chunk of points falling in café’s kitty. Starting from Galouti Kebabs, I generally have very low expectations from vegetarian kebabs and almost never order them. Have never heard of someone making kebabs out of Rajma, and this managed to intrigue us. And I was pleasantly surprised, when my non-vegetarian friends ended up appreciating the Veg Kebabs. Infact they were tender, had a great texture, and just right amount of spices. All three of us unanimously declared them the best dish of the evening, but not for long.
I do not remember when was the last time I had khichdi, forget about the time when I ate it without a grimace on my face. Even though I had ordered Khichda from the menu, I was still very skeptical about it. However once it was served, the smell itself ended any doubts I had. I am not an expert on ingredients, however was told that Dal Makhani and Rice form the base of it along with Desi Ghee. Sometimes you have to forget what is going into it, and focus on the bottom-line, in this case which was awesome taste. Himanshu tried the non-vegetarian version of the same, which came with well cooked chunks of mutton, and he was very pleased with it as well. Both were served with mix vegetable raita, diced onions and green chutney. In my opinion, it tasted best without any of the condiments.
After having some of the more innovative dishes, I was really looking forward to the dessert selection available, which unfortunately turned into a disappointment for me. Thinking about it, it was rather a case of high expectations that I had from the café, especially after the Khichda and Rajma Kebabs. Most of the items listed seemed to be regular ones and we ordered three of them:
- Frozen Alaska (Served with Mango, caramel and Chocolate Sauce)
- Fried Ice-cream (Served with Chocolate Sauce)
- Fruit Custard Tart
I would have said that I was indifferent to all of them, however if you are visiting them and SHOULD order a dessert, then Fried Ice-cream is what I would suggest. Because inside the coating of batter it is eventually ice-cream and you cannot go wrong with vanilla ice-cream with chocolate sauce.
Chalchitra Café is a place where you do not go to dine. It is a place where one goes to hang-out with friends, have a few drinks, enjoy the filmy music and have fun. Whatever time we spent there, this is exactly what we saw happening there. And if they manage to surprise you with something as awesome as Rajma Kebab and Khichda, I see no reason to complain.
It is a place where I would be definitely going back; to get more of the things I like and try some other delicacies they have on their menu. Oh! And I love filmy music :D.
My overall Rating for food : 3/5
Since this is an invited review, I have not taken service into consideration.