The customary cold wave of the Capital and a bit of a work pressure have me up against the wall as I walk into the upbeat new Mehrauli restaurant Swan, tucked away in the cosy exclusivity of South Delhi. The subtle signage is easy to miss in the foliage brushing the building that houses it, but if you are observant enough, you'll be rewarded with the pretty main entrance that takes you first to the cheerful rooftop dining area and then into the snazzy indoors seating.
What strikes one right at outset is the setting—this gourmet Japanese and Italian offering from the house of Massive Restaurants is located right across the road, opposite the Qutub complex. But then the drink to cool one off on this balmy afternoon comes.
I've ordered a sprightly gin-based number called the Cosplay Collins and something about its name sounds just about right. Garnished with grapefruit and mint, the drink lands a citrussy hook from the first sip itself. Shibuya Crossing, Jasmine JuJitsu Hiball, Selfies started in Japan—the rest of the line-up of their handcrafted cocktails has interesting names too. On another visit, I’d like to try the Manhattan-style Miso Happy to See You.
For starters, we have Avocado Crostinis, which presents a nice contrast between the crispy crust and the creamy open filling bursting with feta cheese. This classic savoury is complemented by a fun follow-up: juicy Herb-Grilled Prawns with Achari Mayo. Even those not exactly enamoured with tempura will find the veggie maki rolls fluffy and suggestive of delicate Japanese flavours.
The Mushroom Cappuccino, which instantly gained my curiosity when it was announced to us, now has my attention. The thick soup, laced with a generous helping of truffle oil, I daresay borders on the umami. I am initially circumspect about the whole affair (cappuccino in its name, truffle oil on top) but with each sip—and I kid you not—it grows on you, rousing the appetite for the main course to come. Turns out the soup has nothing to do with coffee; it’s the dehydrated mushroom powder on top that makes it look like a cup of steaming cappuccino, and that’s why the name.
Having entered through the back entrance (thanks to the combined misfiring genius of my Uber driver and Google Maps) I have had a looksee around the indoors seating, which is wound around the stylish bar and has nooks and tables for most kind of gatherings. Warm tones dominate the interiors and complement the minimalistic furniture scheme quite well. A little saunter later, I moved to the patio, picking a spot in the centre right by the plants.
Talking of the main course, Swan’s pizza selection has quite a few offerings, and our own Pizza del Duca—as delicious as its name—is a wood-fired surprise whose USP lies in its crunch, which is again balanced by the mozzarella, not to forget a potent porcini mushroom punch. The arugula on top provides a happy conclusion to the flavours doing something of a Tarantella on your palate.
If you thought this is fetishizing, wait till the chef whips out the parmesan wheel and fires it on the inside, working it intently like a cello, to birth the scrumptious symphony known as the cacio e pepe, à la Roma—all right in front of your eyes, under the great white sky. We finish our portions faster than it was ladled out onto our plates.
With the sun getting off work earlier this afternoon, it’s gotten a bit chilly again in the brief pause before dessert, but the futuristic-looking patio heaters keep us from behaving out of character. Before long, we see the signature Messy Cheesecake placed on our table.
True to its name, it’s a delightful crumble of textures and flavours collapsing into each other in portion that looks small but will keep four eaters happy, if not more. The creamy filling is ensconced snugly between the crust and top and smashed with nuts on the cross-section.
Where: Khasra 1501, 1st Floor, Kalka Das Marg, Ward 1, Mehrauli
Price: Rs 2,000 (without alcohol)