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23.10.2017

Part One: Nappa Dori Warehouse

The Nappa Dori Warehouse – arguably Delhi’s first real concept store – drowns you in Sinha’s special brand of OCD and makes you grateful for it. Every inch of this sprawling 6,000 sq. ft. retail store spells precision, care, and an anal love for design, like a Muji and Paul Smith’s lovechild who has grown to become a tri-lingual, well-mannered toddler. 

When we walk in on the day after Diwali, the warehouse – just opposite Odd Bird and conveniently close to Leo's Pizzeria – is humming with soft activity. Sun rays that seem to complement tomorrow’s Pantone chart stream in, illuminating the careful segregations within the warehouse: on the right are ND classics -  baby blue trunks, hunting umbrellas and yummy pencils– and on the left is Café Dori, Sinha’s affirmation that he’s gone from store to empire. Facing the entrance is an artisanal/ DIY counter with racks of library-hued raw leather samples, and all the tools you’d need to put together a fine collar for your pooch.

The warehouse will offer a regular facility for belt-making and also classes in candle making, and maybe some book readings: a kind of finishing school for sexy countryside bumpkins.

The retail section encourages ND fans to think about how they've grown with the brand: you’ll rewind to your first purchase - the ambassador or coconut canvas leather bag - and have a think about the elephant passport holder, which now lies in some ex’s drawer. This dreamy walk is facilitated by a pair of sharp store assistants who guide you from a distance, smiling as you come to discover some of the newer products: delicious merlot colored pencils, multi-purpose diaries, and newer/better bags, clutches, cases and sleeves. You’ll also find that the brand’s natural collaborators – and Sinha’s good friends –share the spotlight: a rack of BODICE clothing stands like nothing else could take its place, and an edited collection from SHIFT seems like it is engaged in everyday banter with everything around it.

With store signage spelling ND’s colloquialisms (like, ‘write don’t type’), the brand voice is more articulate than ever, and also more consciously cosmopolitan than before: BOAT magazine’s latest edition is welcome here, and CEREAL’s creamy, soft pages emphasise the library of tactility being stitched together, between literature and leather.

The artisanal section will open in a few weeks. Here, you can DIY as much as you want to or pretend just once, for the sake of an Instagram story. The warehouse will offer a regular facility for belt-making and also classes in candle making, and maybe some book readings: a kind of finishing school for sexy countryside bumpkins.

Meanwhile, don't forget to use the restroom. With an audiobook on play and professional housekeeping, we won’t blame you if this is where you choose to spend the afternoon.

Part Deux: Café Dori

For the next few weeks, we recommend a table in the sun. Now that the warehouse is dog friendly, this is probably where you’ll encounter some of the best beings.

We take our time browsing through the well edited, Pan European menu. The wait staff are warm enough to chill with and professional enough to help you make some tough choices: pirogues versus handmade pasta for instance, is a question they treat with seriousness.

We get the feeling that unless the best arugula/zucchini/granny smith apples are available, the Dori Salad wouldn’t be served. Same with olive tapenade and just-right zucchini on our wealthy flatbread. In an order of spicy gambas, each of the five shrimp are jewels with a kick; we skip them in to our mouths, consecutively, like movie popcorn.

In an order of spicy gambas, each of the five shrimp are jewels with a kick; we skip them in to our mouths, consecutively, like movie popcorn.

All stops are pulled with simmering baked brie accompanied by a portion of knots-and-crosses croutons. Each dip from bread to Brie is make-out-in-a-mosh-pit good, a delirious goodness that's amplified by the handmade papradelle and smoked sausage dish that comes out next.

We leave the land of Dori in a lovely daze, happy to have been here, excited for what ND will do next, still buzzing from two excellent lattes and the soft touch of leather that started it all.

Getting there: 100 Feet Road, Pocket D, Dr Ambedkar Colony, Chhattarpur, Rs. 3,000 for two at Café Dori.

Accessibility: It is wheelchair accessible.

This story was contributed by Meher Varma.

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