A cute little restaurant tucked away in a tiny corner of Mehrauli, The Grammar Room has turned into one of my go-to places when I can put my feet up and let my hair down with ease. It is the perfect brunch spot to catch up with your girls, or enjoy a cozy meal with your significant other. Not to mention, I did see quite a few young families troop in, especially mothers with their daughters in tow after what may have been a hectic shopping spree.
The Grammar Room sits right next to Delhi’s Olive Bar & Kitchen, which with its white pebbled courtyards lends quite the Mediterranean vibe to the former. With a similar colour scheme running through The Grammar Room, tonnes of blue and white, the ambience is instantly relaxing with a very hipster design trend streaking right through it. The place almost seems to have been fashioned out of the shed or a greenhouse to me, especially with the massive walls of glass that let ample natural light stream in. If you’re thinking the restaurant must then be bathed in sunlight with squinting customers, then you’re wrong. With one side of the restaurant sitting next to Delhi’s forest ridge and the other side shaded by ample trees, this place is sheltered just right with sunlight streaking through.
And this place has one of my favourite colour combinations – blue and white in different textures and patterns, interspersed with the green on the outside and the warm tones of brown rattan furniture. It gives such an outdoorsy appeal even when you’re in the confines of a sheltered area. One doesn’t feel too far from nature. There’s minimalist chic over here. With just one wall in brick and mortar, it’s been dressed up with a tiny smattering of framed pictures, a corkboard with tonnes of little bits pinned up and an eclectic bookshelf that tempts customers to pick one and just settle in. There is even an outdoor space with white furniture and green and white cushions, which just lets the verdant surroundings be the main focus.
The restaurant has a limited menu. There are no pages after pages of Indian vegetarian starters, non-vegetarian starters followed by Chinese, or pizza and pasta in the name of Italian. The limited menu, ranging from eggs for breakfast to one-meal bowls, is refreshing for me. There are no endless variants of the same dish. It is a relief, especially for someone who ends up aimlessly browsing through Netflix or Amazon before settling in to watch the same old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or Incredible Homes.
I like places that have a limited menu but everything on it is a star show. It doesn’t give the customer a chance to say ‘Oh, you may have ordered the wrong dish on the menu’, should a dish not be made the way it was meant to be or a fusion gone wrong. The incessant stream of gastropubs that fill Delhi NCR just irks me. The same old food and beverage menu with zero concept and offerings. These are just drinking holes. Sometimes, neither the food nor the drinks ever make the mark of being the ‘right thing to order’.
On the other hand, the beverage and bar menus are relatively extensive, from a slim selection of teas to vegan drinks, hot coffee, cold brews to smoothies, wine and cocktails. The Ginfused & Tonic with cucumber and thyme (INR 525) and the Elderflower Sprizter (INR 550), which has vodka, sparkling wine, elderflower syrup and lime, are my favourites. When it comes to coffee, K prefers his South Bombay Cold Coffee (INR 250), which is a cold brew with no added sugar, jaggery syrup, chicory powder, milk and vanilla essence, while I prefer the TGR Cold Coffee (INR 220), a classic cold coffee and vanilla ice cream blend.
One of the heavenliest dishes on the menu is the Shrimp Benedict Brioche (INR 495). It is simply divine. On a bed of fresh brioche are laid chilli prawns and perfectly poached eggs, and topped with chipotle hollandaise sauce to give that extra zing. This is accompanied with two hash browns on the side. What a perfect dish!
K and I are quite passionate lovers of egg, so we ended up ordering a Who Was Rancheros (INR 495) also. It came with a toasted corn tortilla and spicy black beans, and covered with two sunny-side up eggs as if it was a lid for the dish. It came with pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole.
Another time we ordered a Shroom Melt (INR 475). Essentially an open sandwich aka tartine, this dish had multigrain bread topped with mushrooms that came layered with zarai cheese and mushroom pate. And this had a sunny side up egg too. A little search on the great wide web got me to know that restaurants in Delhi source Zarai cheese from Uttarakhand. This is excellent! I only knew about Bandel Cheese in West Bengal, which I miss terribly. If pocket-friendly, I wouldn’t mind getting some locally made cheese for my pantry some day. I love cheese, and really want to get into the know-how of this world some day.
On a particularly harrowing day I ordered, from the Big Plates section, the TGR Fried Rice (INR 675) – sticky Japanese egg fried rice served with seasonal greens, garlic chips, fried onions and prawns. This was a one-bowl meal and as a concept, they’re great! Sometimes you just want to curl up with something soul-satisfying, and I find one-bowl meals to be great. The fried rice, though excellent, became a little dry for me towards the end. I mean it did come with a splodge of sauce, but with mostly dry ingredients framing the rice in the bowl, I was glad that I had my drink handy to wash it down.
Next time, I am definitely opting for the Curry Up Bowl which is essentially Udon noodles in yellow curry served with seasonal greens. There are options for tofu, poached egg or chicken or prawns karaage.
Now usually health-nut K doesn’t have much love for sweet somethings, but when I ordered the Panna Cotta & Crumble (INR 350), he couldn’t keep his hands off the dish. The passion fruit panna cotta, which had such a wonderful ‘jiggle’, and served with the oh-so-amazing crumble was perfect. The crumble not just adds that extra layer of flavour, but even texture as it crackles in the mouth.
The one thing that intrigues me is the restaurant’s nod to grammar. The menu mentions how the name is “rooted in an inside joke shared between the team members, how from bonding over the erosion of English language and great coffee. Just as grammar is the foundation of the English language; the food, coffee, cocktails and ambience make for a great experience.”
The menu further characterises each section of the menu and relates it with a punctuation mark, such as the dishes with the semi-colon signify continuity for the team. They explain, ‘it’s like dessert, to extend the meal‘. Or an exclamation mark means that the dish has been recommended by the chef. While the main logo of the restaurant has a punctuation mark, I think they could have taken it a bit further in bringing out elements of grammar in the décor than just being a footnote in the menu. But that is my opinion. Maybe they wanted to go for a subtle nod to grammar.
But I know I will still find my way here, and next time, maybe post sundown to see what the space looks like under the imaginary stars across Delhi’s sky.