For a week bookended by Hannah Gadsby’s brilliant Nanette on one side, Melania Trump’s jacket not even pretending to be subtext on the other - and, you know, just everyday life in Delhi - walking into the newly opened and poorly named ‘The Immigrant Cafe’ in Khan Market felt less dystopian than it rightly should.
Second in a (short) chain whose first outlet is totally at home in Connaught Place’s experiments in good taste, this Immigrant Café opens where La Bodega used to be. It’s completely in keeping with the Khan vibe that, as bureaucrats and journalists discuss actual immigration policy around the corner, this café is a ‘wanderlust’ Pinterest board in three dimensions. White walls, same as in every Santorini-look alike cafe, are freckled with framed sketches of big cities; a stand of travel curios looms to our left, and another wall sports a jigsaw painting of the map of the world. Sorry, guys, what’s the theme of this restaurant again?
We’re still devoid of backstory or clue to the name, so we get a drink. The Kir Royale is a good trick. Neither overly sweet, nor running low on champagne (as is often the case with this drink in Delhi restaurants), we’re numbed into forgetting our initial outrage. The food menu expands on that tired micro-fusion trend, but we decide to eat like the locals and start with tikitok.
A party of odd flavours, the creamy avocado ice-cream mixed with the pungency of the black bean puree against the hard tortilla expertly manages to be not too much. Crab puchka, however, fails where our neighbourhood chaat stall never does: an uneven puchka to filling ratio. With only tiny bits of crab inside, we’re biting mouthfuls of puchka air. A little too avant-garde.
The beetroot and chickpea slider is such a well-made burger that it picks our spirits right up again: here’s a generous, fluffy brioche bun housing a non-crumbly beetroot chickpea patty with just the right balance of lettuce, tomato (only one slice for a really good burger) and jalapeno. Vegetarians, take special note. Alas, the seesaw tips over again with lobster and prawn ravioli, a chewy, imbalanced affair whose pumpkin-fennel sauce more reminiscent of store-bought Thousand Island than the back-of-throat friendly fennel sweet kick.
Seek asylum, if you can stand to, in Baileys Mousse, fluffy cream and a Baileys-drenched layer of cake inside. Indeed, we recommend two of these, so you walk out in a sugar fog and not asking questions. Call it border-line madness.
Getting There: The Immigrant Cafe, Middle Lane, Khan Market. R.s 3100 for a meal for two.
Accessibility: No wheelchair access, the restaurant is up a flight of stairs.
This review was contributed by Kakul Gautam who writes on Instagram as @hyperbolemuch.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
Wake up to daily updates on what to eat/shop/do in your city