If Disney were to make a film about Indian hipsters, Grammar Room would be a ready set. Nestled at the back of Olive but very much its own quarter, this café completes One Style Mile’s ambition to have a little something for everyone. While over-the-top brides shop in neighboring boutiques and new couples discuss their zodiac compatibility with heels ground in to Olive’s pebbles, The Grammar Room is where the kids who ostensibly reject all this can hang out, looking above-it-all in rose tinted Ray Ban glasses.
In textbook Modern Indian aesthetic, Grammar Room has all the comforts of a well-to-do, contemporary Delhi living room: plenty of mid-century cane furniture, lots of white, sweeps of globally approved ikat fabric, tons of light wood. But it feels churlish to complain about the generic nature of this derived aesthetic; it is pretty, and a godly light reflects off dozens of Macbooks delicately perched upon the tables.
We make our way to the patio - naturally - bathed in divine Mehrauli light. The set here is Pier One catalogue good, and the smell of an American barbecue is so tightly imagined, it’s almost real. Mehrauli’s sepia and green coated jungle, still growing thick and dark, is a stone’s throw away, and scoring a table here is like attending a costume party picnic-in-the-woods, where the leopards have been asked to show evidence of their existence but not appear until the FB stories have been logged.
We love it – but as a place to chill, not to work. Despite its hone-in-on-the-idea name, high speed internet, board games, and cerebral cues, this is a place where you can work if work means changing the filters on your Instagram pictures. Otherwise, we advise you to put away the laptops, put away the Proust – after photographing it with a side of avocado – and just hang the hell out. We did just that, and the day took on a superb, photogenic quality.
After our host, who introduces herself as Tanya, glides past the wooden benches to welcome us, we settle in quickly, establishing friendly relations both with her and our server who looks like an Apple store genius in Santa Monica. They are lovely to chat with, and we collectively mourn our lack of bird knowledge – a true tragedy here. They help us through the neat, all-white, menu that looks like an insert from Monocle. It features all the luxuries of hipsterdom and familiar things if you’re the kind who feels at home in Park Slope: bacon farofa, fig and kale jam, prawn karage and sake-infused meat all make a confident appearance. The classics are inverted – salads are leafless, burgers are bun-less, but the menu is nicely divided between small and big plates; moreover, the ‘grammar’ notation in the menu – commas and semicolons indicate the nature of the dish – also makes for a high-five branding move. It pushes the Guardian-inspired (?) comma logo a little further along the road.
But The Grammar Room is not on a moral mission to keep you on kombucha all day long – the alcohol menu is as brave as at any AD Singh bar, and getting a little tipsy seems welcome, as long as it’s on something suitably fantastic, like hibiscus infused gin. We very much enjoy the fruity, gleaming sangrias – particularly the oh-so-comforting taste of Elderflower, which has us almost wanting to set up our typewriters and begin working on that ode to quinoa series. We march on with the help of generously portioned avocado toast – much too big for your original hipster, but appropriately sized for the indigenous gen. As Tanya promises, its finger-licking good, thanks to a quite unique, citrusy taste and cool Hass-green hue. It may be the bread-and-butter of the hip, but we can’t help but fangirl Grammar’s version.
Two cocktails and some bites down, we’re walking around the patio like we own the place, requesting the music to be turned down slightly at sunset. The team likes our demand; #sunsets are the religious ritual of gin and tonics. We get cozy but note that partial ownership is not an uncommon feeling – the ladies in elegant sundresses next to us say they’ve been here much longer; a one-upmanship scored gentle as a Jenga topple.
Only our fried rice bowl brings us back from bird-gazing to the table – an expertly crafted dish with dollops of spicy mayo, a rain of sesame seeds, gleaming handfuls of broccoli, and a fist-sized portion of delicious shrimp. We polish it off, and very much applaud the verified full-platedness of it - the rules at grammar school, like everything else here, play by the book, if the book is an expensive, soft-papered quarterly magazine.
Getting there: The Grammar Room, One Style Mine, Mehrauli. Drinks and eats for two cost around Rs. 4,500, who require a lie-down immediately afterwards.
Wheelchair access: Possible but not easy, thanks to Olive’s pebbly floors. Bathrooms are shared with Olive and quite accessible.
This story was contributed by Meher Varma.
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