Gray injects a balmy breath of air into silent, stuffy, N-block market. Located just above Café Diva – and spread across two floors – the place has the feel of a spanking new boutique hotel in a small town, and wide-eyed attentiveness from staff to match these professional standards. Lobby-style music and OCD-ish cleanliness refine the metaphor; we almost stop to inquire about check-out hours, and half-expect to see a Hyatt-style king-sized bed, made with a fluffy duvet and hospital corners, somewhere on the premises.
Gray is empty when we get there, and remains so throughout the meal. We’re not sure whether to credit our eagle eye for spotting this place, or chalk it down to the restaurant’s lack of marketing. It may eventually be swamped by endless kitty parties, but two flights of stairs between ground and grey may play accidental saviour on that count.
Play Misty For Me
Its interiors are certainly remarkable, following through its full-on embrace of gray with strict, austere sincerity. Throughout its two floors, a solid pavement-industrial hue reigns, relieved only by an elaborate lattice-style white pattern that sprawls across the panels like a bride’s mehendi. Indoor plants provide planned relief, but aside from these conscious props, the place is determined to absorb you into its palette, and swallow you whole.
The bar is Dubai Nouveau, shimmering with glossy bottles of alcohol. We swerve out to to the terrace, spotting many fine tables spaced carefully, allowing for only occasional whispers of conversation to travel around the setting. A perfect holiday sun has already spread itself across the roof when we settle in to comfortable lounge chairs, and put our feet up. For the next hour and a half, a single server takes care of us like a personal butler. He is a seasoned conversationalist – he knows about curry pastes, pollution levels, and the texture of tilapia. Professional training is not something even the most demanding critic could complain about here.
The hotel vibe continues steadily through the meal. We’re served branded water in plastic bottles, despite our request for regular. The food comes out just as we’ve covered a topic of conversation with knee-deep adequacy, and the order of delivery is carefully timed so that we may appreciate the aesthetics and particularities of each dish.
The first taste of truffle mushroom bisque sets the track beautifully uphill. The color is muddy beige, and a dollop of cream – painted with glistening truffle oil – is a delight on the tongue. We switch between this softness and a sharp papaya salad, which is culinary-school right: not a peanut out of place, not a note of spice incorrect.
An artful mezze platter comes out next – the hummus is good enough to drown in, the babaganoush a smoky, scintillating attack on the senses, and the pita and crackers warm as a surfboard left to toast on a beach. Finally, a plate of satisfying beetroot kebabs seals the meal with nearly full points – their deep colour makes the dish lovely to look at, and the texture is a perfect interplay between strong on the outside and delicate on the in.
The Gulf Between Us
As the elevator music turns up ever so slightly, we continue crawling deeper into our long, lazy lunch, slowly progressing towards the inevitable cancellation of the day’s remaining plans. Gray sits just right on this Delhi winter afternoon; yet, for all its finesse, it’ll be a place we remember fondly staying in once or twice, not more. But a little less studied perfection, and a little more homeliness -- or a little more Delhi and a little less Dubai – and this could become a mainstay.
Getting there: Gray Global Kitchen & Bar, N-8, second floor, Greater Kailash-I, a meal for two (who eat like three) costs Rs 2,200.
Accessibility: The restaurant is two flights up, and not wheelchair accessible.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
Photo Source: Zomato.
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