As an impressionable youth, when we first read about Katz Delicatessen in a Hardy Boys novel and their famed pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, we decided right then that delis were the epitome of casual dining. So, we were more than willing to brave the teeming, largely high-heeled crowd and 45-minute wait outside Indigo Deli in Vasant Kunj, the celebrated Mumbai chain’s first Delhi outing.
Indigo is yellow on the inside, with walls swathed with rich mustard, bronzed overhead lamps and dark wooden furniture. There is a staircase leading up, but we get distracted by the large display fridge — chock-a-block with desserts that have us wishing we had the metabolism of a grade-schooler again, as well as the day’s special salads and dips — located right next to the open kitchen.
The deli offers sandwiches, burgers and dogs (obviously the hot kind, not the hirsute), wafer-thin pizzas as well as salads, some cold grills and an elaborate breakfast selection to round things up nicely. Prices are on the high side (averaging to Rs 550 a sandwich) and we cannot wait to see if all the fuss is worth it.
Directly on opening the sandwich menu, our eyes fall on the Indigo Deli Reuben featuring in-house-cured pastrami, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese grilled in rye bread, our culinary grail of childhood past. We are stricken with pathos when informed that Reuben won’t be in today, and cheer up only when the Philly Cheese Steak and Pulled Pork Burger rush in to comfort us. We also order a Deli Small Plate that allows us to fill up a plate with the day’s offerings from the display counter.
The plate comes first, piled with an iceberg cold lettuce and cold roast chicken salad and a palm heart salad, hummus and sliced and boiled duck eggs. While the platter is all grown-up sophistication, filled with leaves the colour of a society lady’s envy and arrayed prettily on a pristine white plate, the almost simultaneous arrival of the sandwiches breaks up the kitty party. The Philly, despite not being a Reuben, more than takes us back to our childhood; it is atavistic. Shredded beef, desiccated jalapenos and caramelised onions, melted cheddar and a chunky spiced BBQ sauce, all ooze out of the toasted spelt roll, compelling us to revert to caveman grabbing and mouth-stuffing to ensure that not a morsel escapes. The burger, if not as deliciously messy as the sandwich, still elicits a primal reaction, with the corn bun stuffed with smoky, layered pork, smoky with cinnamon, and a texture so soft it is almost flowing. We mentally thump our clubs in joy.
Our plates soon freer of crumbs than the path behind Hansel and Gretel after those pesky birds had had their fill, our thoughts wander sluggishly to dessert. Wishing we had four stomachs like the benevolent provider of our sandwich meat, we pick the Chocolate Mud Cake. It is a formidable block of decadence so dense and chocolatey that it could be justifiably called swamp rather than just mud. We hold our breaths before happily sinking in.
Meal for two: Rs 3,000 (including taxes, excluding alcohol)
Address: 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj. Contact: 33036538