As you draw back the elevator doors that open out to Depot 29 (named after the postal code it’s located in), it’s like entering a uber-cool apartment whose tenants are clearly obsessed with both food and music; whether it’s the graffiti drawing comparisons between some of our favourite things such as harps and t-bone steaks and frying pans and banjos, or the racks of cassettes or the toothsome smells wafting out of the kitchen.
Given that it’s owned and designed by an MBA and a sound engineer and with a menu curated by Ritu Dalmia, the concept’s execution probably makes its accountants beatific. Since opening its doors, the depot has played host to a slew of musical acts (mostly world music and jazz, strictly no Sufi-wood or Honey Singh) as well as plays, installations and talks. While these acts dominate the soundscape over the weekend, the rest of the week has an eclectic soundtrack.
Like The Velvet Underground’s studio discography, the menu is short but with every item unusual and compelling. Largely Tex-Mex, there’s still enough fusion for those who prefer sambal to sombreros, with an accompanying bar menu with drinks of all strengths, colours and sizes.
We start with the Watermelon Salad and the Duck Tostada. More chill than Ice Cube and embellished with strips of marinated ginger and crumbling spiced feta cheese among a profusion of garden-fresh greens and diced watermelon, the salad is manna for the sultry weather of Delhi. Meanwhile, the Tostada is as delicious as a Pink Floyd progression, featuring Duck rather than David; it begins as a crispy tortilla, appam-shaped, crammed with desiccated duck and mixed greens glazed with balsamic and as you delve deeper, the tortilla soaks up all the juices, becoming saturated with smokiness and happiness.
The headlining acts comprise the Surf and Turf Burger and the Pulled Pork Taco. The burger takes stage first, a minced chicken patty and fat slices of jalapeno lie between toasted buns skewered with grilled shrimps. It’s a crowd pleaser with or without the accompanying smoked chipotle mayo. The taco’s meat is as deliquesced as the duck and comes power-packed with refried beans in a medley of flavours that makes you want to roll out an “arriba”.
At the end of your meal you can pick between the dessert of the day or from a range of waffles. We firmly entrench ourselves in the latter, recent dietary restrictions be damned. As it turns out Depot 29 is to the waffle what Jimmy Page is to the guitar, it needs to be experienced to be understood. Getting a mixed platter of Banana and Toffee waffles and Chocolate Gianduja with Caramelized Nuts, it’s impossible to pick a favourite. Like Lester Bangs said, “every great work of art has two faces.” He might just have been referring to these.
Meal for two: Rs 2,500 (including taxes, excluding alcohol)