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28.05.2018

Normally, we can think of little better than basking in a bungalow-sized, unoccupied, public space. But, the ‘q’ in this Publiq raises questions about why this prime-property, visible to every car driving past central-as-hell Green Park main road remains deathly abandoned. What’s even more puzzling to some third-life type Delhiites – my chosen brunch companions– is that this is ex-Rythm Bar, where ‘lots of stuff used to go down.’ Details are suspiciously blurry. We set out, determined to figure out what happened – to the place, not to collective memory (we tackle what we can).

With the sun throbbing at sky-break temperature, we make our way up an industrial staircase, half-expecting the warehouse theme to carry through. Instead, we walk in to an aesthetic mishmash, a banquet-sized hall of things that are supposed to be something else. Pastel-hued, kind-of-maybe Italian tiles are painted on one wall; brand-new distressed wooden tables with zero texture are manically placed across the room, and one look at the couches drowning in unimaginative leather and you get it - the place is bathing so deep in its own makeover, that it’s missed the colour for the lipstick.

Sadly, all-things-ersatz doesn’t stop here. The food is only mechanically alive, an abstraction of tastes en masse. We try thinking that maybe we’re tripping, missing the whole point: it comes up that maybe this is the final decay of all things Public, a commentary upon what happens when establishments are made in the name of people. ‘Is publiq the post-public?’ Could be, but the analysis does not come without serious stomach churn.

The first thing we order, ‘beer nachos,’ are a loaded plate of toasty nachos drowned in a fake-tan hued cheese. Still convinced that we’ve just got to get in to the fake-is-real character to enjoy ourselves, we polish every chip off. But no: all hope of theatrical relief runs dry with the minced lamb and hummus platter, which tastes exactly like a dish made out of a can, and the anatomy of industrial process is felt on every level. We’re close to taking bets on whether a chickpea ever played a part in this dish. We decide that maybe the Indian-Lebanese, Indian-Mexican direction is a little too edgy, and settle for our safety: a simple order of chicken tikka. While expectedly a little too orange, the thing itself is edible. But halfway through, we’re already debating about which one of us will be in charge of making omelettes as soon as we get home.

Dear Publiq policy-makers, your hearts seem like they are with the bar, and the bar only. Here’s a little, public secret: if you could come out and say that – and provide some local beers and innovative cocktails - you’d maybe have us over for a desperate tipple, mid traffic-jam. But as things stand, even a slim chance is a stretch.

We just can’t help feeling like we’ve digested one massive typo.

Getting there: 50/8, first floor, Yusuf Sarai market, Green Park. A meal for three with a round of beers costs Rs 3,000.

Accessibility: No wheelchair access.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its meals.

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Food & Drink