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IMPERFECTO SHOR

I've heard the saying about the journey being as gratifying an experience as arriving at the destination. My review of Imperfecto Shor follows in similar fashion, with everything about this cafe's interiors and ambiance built as a prelude to the cocktails and cuisine that awaits… you have to visit the Capital's first all-hours café — that transforms an adjacent space into a Gothic and barbaric- inspired weekend club — to believe it! Managed by twenty-three year-old Chef Akanksha Dean, who has trained under celebrated Chef Massimo Bottura at the three-Michelin Osteria Francescana — the menu pays ode to its interiors. What makes it the most talked about place with weeks of its launch? Akanksha, who is in the kitchen making sure everything is perfect and up to her stringent standard, is also on the floor welcoming guests. It is her passion, dedication and care that leads Imperfecto Shor, be it in the afternoon or midnight. Though, ultimately, it's the quality cocktails and cuisine that lures diners back.

 

Here's how it all began. Walking into the cafe transported me into a different realm and I was in awe of the Renaissance-themed interiors. Designed by Nuria Rodriguez Parra, the exposed brick walls with illustrations is accentuated by vintage furniture though what arrested my attention were the canvas paintings on the walls and the handmade rustic chandelier and wall lamps which you may find in ancient castles. The foodie in me, however, was intrigued to check out the dishes as the team has made a valiant effort to stage cocktail and culinary productions to reflect the Renaissance period. The manager led me to a table where Akanksha and her mother, my friend and colleague Rupali Dean, met me and soon I was pouring over the menu. Alas! There were no easy choices as all dishes seemed sumptuous, so I placed myself in the chef's hands, and she helped strategize the order.

 

Dinner began with 'The Imperial Crown Salad'. Each spoonful of the light, refreshing summer salad brought with it an explosion of flavour and texture; the quinoa, avocado and bell peppers was refreshing to the palate, perfectly balanced with honey lime dressing. Up next was 'Clement's Japanese Affair' — chicken teriyaki and asparagus on a bed of sticky rice. The name explains the mix of unusual ingredients i.e. love affair between an English count and Japanese lady. I must mention here that detailing such as this transformed the meal into a compelling culinary experience. Quickly capturing its Instagram-worthy presentation, I took a bite of the aromatic skewered meat. The texture was melt-in-the-mouth and the portion, just perfect. Losing myself in the Renaissance ambience and house music, I welcomed the bartender's suggestion of ordering their signature cocktail 'Darly's Mansion' — the name is evocative of a mansion surrounded by spice trees and hence the cocktail is a mix of masala- infused gin, black cardamom sugar and angostura bitters, served in a copper cup with a sliver of chilli- cheese toast. The copper cutlery, similar to that in Renaissance churches, kept the cocktail cool. I was impressed.

 

Time flew by with much camaraderie and conversation and pretty soon the server brought me the classic comfort food — fish and cups served in paper, with tartare sauce and lime. The off- the- hook fresh fish fingers was complemented by a potent Tequila cocktail with homemade spiced sugar. Hey, I was really liking it here! Hours flew by as I chatted with Akanksha about her culinary inheritance, Chef Massimo Bottura's mentorship and her individual skill-set, and soon it was time for the entree — prawn red curry with roasted rice. The red curry was meticulously prepared with flavours and textures that demonstrated her mastery of the art. I was expecting it to be spicy but was glad it was tempered and yet so sumptuous, once again reflecting the culinary theme of perfectly- portioned comfort food. And, the bartender was back with the masterpiece — Mellow Drama. A dramatic cocktail of Tequila, grape fruit and guava served in a copper glass encased in a porcelain rabbit! It was unlike anything I had ever had!!

 

Though I was content, Chef insisted the meal wouldn't be complete without dessert —  and she was right. The 'Quinoa Fruits Pudding' was delicious with zero- guilt factored in. In retrospect I'd return to Imperfecto Shor time and again and recommend the all- hours cafe as a must-visit any time of the day [and night!] — fresh, flavoursome comfort food with knowledgeable service and warm hospitality is a rare feat. The over- arching Renaissance interiors and trippy music makes it an experience. Well done, Akanksha. You are en route to placing India on the global culinary map and making your parents proud of you. Bon Appetite!

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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