Managing a restaurant is never easy. But doing it at the age of 23 seems even more daunting, does it not? But that’s the least of Akanksha Dean’s worries. She’s keener on making sure no customer goes home hungry. By the time we left the premises on a weekday evening, I think it is safe to say, we were not thinking of snacking anytime soon.
The newly opened Imperfecto Shor Café in Aerocity has been turning heads and it wasn’t hard to understand why once we actually visited the place. A 24x7 café, the interiors have a rustic, yet comforting, charm. Billed as a Gothic café, honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect but were pleasantly surprised walking in through the wooden castle doors. The café seemed eclectic. While there might be influences from the Late Middle ages in the decor, there is a clean contemporary style that gave the place a softer look, with mellow yellow lights.
It was heartening to see young Dean’s menu. It was a mix of comfort café foods from around the world which are not new for an Indian millennial. The flavours might be different or newish but the texture and comfort factor of the dishes stay the same. Who doesn’t crave instant noodles at 3am? Well, if you don’t feel like taking the trouble to make it yourself, you know where to come for a plate. Also, the names of the dishes have been conceptualised rather creatively—giving them all back stories. Take the dish called Clement’s Japanese Affair which is chicken teriyaki served with asparagus and sticky rice, which makes one want to order it hearing about how an Englishman and Japanese woman met to create it. And for the record, it was rather delicious.
Dean has trained at Osteria Francescana in Modena and has seen the workings of a kitchen from a rather young age thanks to father Chef Bakshish Dean. Her food is clean, contemporary, comforting and offers a twist. Take the watermelon and feta salad with a raspberry dressing called Helen Charlotte’s Heavenly Spirit. The combination is classic but we had never had it with a raspberry dressing. The fruit-cheese-arugula combination whetted the appetite for more. And do try the fish fingers served with tartar sauce here. We would happily gorge on these childhood delicacies even if served as mains. Fresh and thinly crumbed, they make for a great sharing plate.
Croquettes are common in Spain (though I would say a variations exist everywhere) and a simple onion dip served alongside the deep fried chicken bread-crumbed roll married the flavours. And a tuile served alongside is always acceptable to break and devour.
Among the mains, whether you choose a delectable lamb stew served in a bread bowl, or the creamy rich prawn risotto, or the butter chicken with laccha paratha (there are plenty of other options), we were definitely not disappointed. The stew was humble and yet rich with flavours, the butter chicken was not overtly sweet while the risotto was filled with plump prawns; we couldn’t have eaten more had we tried.
However, we would have preferred if the cocktails had been kept simple. (A G&T can get any party going, right? And there is the nightclub right next door if that’s your scene). But as a musical duo strumming on their guitars kept the customers busy performing live, belting out one number after the other; the café slowly filled up (it does get a lot of people post 10pm) and the chatter increased. For Delhi, it might have been the time to get the party started but for us, it was time to snooze. We were so sure we’d end up dreaming of the delectable fish fingers.
Where: Imperfecto Shor Café, Hotel Pride Plaza, Areocity
Pocket Pinch: Rs 2,000 for two without alcohol