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NICO CAARA

When Nicobar, my favourite label for boho-chic ensembles, tied up with green fine-dining catering company Caara, to launch an in-store cafe at The Chanakya, it was on my wish list. And I finally headed there for retail therapy and luncheon this afternoon. I'm so glad I did — intimate, comfortable and decorated with planters and artefacts that reflect the café’s ideology of promoting all things local, the first impression as I took a seat, was one of warmth, quick service, discretion… a live kitchen with artisanal brass handis and a leafy-green menu that didn't come close to describing the flavoursome small plates!

 

Having heard that Alice Mirabel Helme, Director, Caara, has trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School and is proprietor of a chemical-free vegetable, fruit and herb farm, I eagerly poured over the menu while sipping on a refreshing green juice. There are no easy choices when approaching the expansive menu — all dishes hint "try me" with voluptuous descriptions! However my server was knowledgeable, attentive and indulgent, and suggested 'Crispy Shrimp Tempura' and 'Sri Lankan Crab Cakes' when I mentioned a fondness for seafood. It was key to this afternoon's success!! Settling in to check mails on my phone, I was pleasantly surprised that the service was fast!! The bowl of crispy shrimp tempura — with the most sumptuous mango basil salsa — was freshly-prepared, with a soft texture that chewed easily. The shrimps were tender and meaty — and the salsa made them finger-lickin' good. The crab cakes, however, was the star. The chefs have this one down to an exact science and if you like seafood it's to die for — the crab cakes were thick, had a crisp crust, and made with a generous amount of crabmeat. The kale and potato gallet, tomato and coconut gravy, added to the flavour and visually appealing presentation made it picture perfect.

 

Though 'Chocolate And Coffee Pots' was a tempting way to end this afternoon, I was packed to the brim, and gave the sweet plates a pass. Reminiscing back to the meal, there’s a tradition at Nico Caara — to ensure diners go home satisfied with a memorable meal that's complemented by good service. If you don't receive this, let the team know; I'm sure they will do whatever must be done to meet your expectations. They exceeded mine!

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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DLF, The Chanakya, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi.

Kimaya Jewellery