Good times at a great cafe...

Have you ever been accidentally locked up in a tiny room? When you bang and yell to be rescued
while the walls almost close in on you. Frustration and desperation builds up until the door is prised open suddenly and you walk out in the world again. Feeling alive. And HAPPY.
If yes, you’d probably get my next point.

Navigating through the great Delhi crawl for almost two hours, when I reached Café Dori today afternoon the pent-up frustration and anger at the epic traffic snarl and burgeoning automobile population almost dissipated in a snap. Cheerful, sunny and with lots of leg room, the casual diner, housed in what used to be Nappa Dori’s warehouse in Chattarpur, is exactly what you need after a rough day. If I was looking forward to a luncheon with my girl gang, the look of the place just heightened the excitement. To top that, the naturally lit-up restaurant housed a bedecked Christmas tree and Yuletide decorations to ring in the festive spirit. And of course, the 
innovatively curated space showcasing founder Gautam Sinha’s creations, tantalisingly beckoning the borderline shopaholic in me… But today was about food. And gossip. So, we stayed faithful…

Café Dori is a multi-sensory experience. The food, the ambience, the products, the décor, the attention to detail (courtesy NIFT graduate Gautam’s keen aesthetics and eye for great design), everything makes the
eatery a great place to be at. There is also a separate open space where guests can bring in their pets (dogs) and dine with them. This is a great initiative spearheaded by the founder and has many takers. While we grubbed, a black Labrador donning a red collar (to go with the Christmas spirit) stole our
hearts. The décor is simple, focusing on white cobbled walls and earthy brown furniture (some with cushions in ikat weaves) so as not to take away from the gastronomical delights. It’s the atelier in the back end of the eatery, the unique lights and the bric-a-brac that inform the diners about Nappa Dori’s signature finesse in leather and luxury.
Absolutely famished, we order a Gambas Prawns and Poached egg with greens. The prawns, tossed in garlic butter and herbs with a dash of Mexican chillies, are cooked to perfection. The Poached eggs, replete with a generous helping of hollandaise sauce justifiably whet our appetite.
It’s winter so we skip the drinks and head straight to the mains. Despite my reluctance for saffron
risotto, I’m talked into opting for the Saffron Risotto with shredded lamb that my best friend says is the café’s signature. She orders a prawn pappardelle in a tomato based sauce. The other two ladies choose a Sole and Prawn muniere and a Pork Carbonara. We take a side of fries, which are crisp and nicely seasoned. The pappardelle, despite being homemade and spiked with succulent prawns, is overpowered by the tomato gravy. The
sole and shrimp muniere is aromatic and grilled to perfection.

I have never been too sure about the saffron flavour (a recent pasta I ate at a fine-diner added to the apprehension because of the heaviness of the saffron) but this risotto was a pleasant surprise. The creamy rice was perfectly foiled by the shredded lamb and every mouthful was simple yet wholesome.
I’ve never tasted pork so I am not the best judge of the white meat. Prodded by the girls, when I put a spoonful of the Carbonara into my mouth, there was an explosion of creamy deliciousness. The delish white sauce beautifully came together with the rich umami flavour. This was the dish of the day, we decided unanimously!

Pretty full we stuck to two desserts instead of four, which also meant, to our glee, that we would be visiting again to try out other items in the biggish menu. The wild honey pannacotta was subtle and countered by the chunks of berries and wafers that garnished it. Because I have a thing for chocolates, next up was the Chocolate pots de crème, accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream garnished with caramel sauce and an almond tuile. As we tucked into the sinful delight little realising that we had hung
out in the pretty eatery for a good five hours already, giggling and gaggling just as we always do, we knew we would be back to relive the good times soon. Very soon. 


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