Time and space is not a continuum at The Pop-Up, Asiad Village. The restaurant spills over into an inside dining area and a white-tented al fresco area, with a much-vaunted Josper Grill located outside, exhaling a bouquet of appetising aromas. The inside boasts chalk walls scrawled over with comments by visitors, with one side dominated by a large bar counter bedecked with bottles.
The menu greets you like an old friend, or rather a cool new one, highly conversational in tone and modern European in content, with an Indian accent, just to even things out. The mains are divided into Runners, Flyers, Swimmers and Hipsters (for the vegetarian portion) and a starters section christened Foreplay. The prices are like the roads of Landour, steep but more than worth the effort; starters are at Rs 600 while the mains are double that. A meal for two, without alcohol, should set you back by around Rs 3,500.
We begin our Foreplay with an Undressed Tart (all euphemisms are to be placed squarely at the door of The Pop-Up and not the author), comprising sun-dried tomatoes with goat cheese, caramelised allium (you have to guess the specific variant from the genus. Hint: it’s onion; well-cooked, inchoate, sweetish but dusky onion), seasonal greens, bell peppers and tomato-infused sour balsamic. The tart comes Graham cracker-style, nestled among a forest of greens, and spread over with gooey goat cheese. The play of textures and flavours is likely to make you go “ma-ma” (or “ba-ba” in an idyllic world of gender equality).
Caveat to the reader: when crowded, The Pop-Up takes a while to pop its dishes out, so be prepared for the wait; the food justifies it but this cannot be your mid-day in-between work manna.
Our mains are the bacon, cheese and mushroom Doh’nut burger, topped with crisped shards of bacon and the Grilled Tenderloin Tournados with roast potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, with a sesame wasabi cream. The tournados come first, slick cuts of beef enmeshed in a poignant kasundi sauce, laid back on a bed of roasted potatoes. Our knife, fork and gullet arm themselves, rapidly putting away portions of meat and meal, without a burp to spare. The Doh’nut burger staggers in last, stuffed with a fricassee of mushy-rooms, cheese and slippery bacon.
But time and space did stop, leaving us without room for dessert.