Pop-up flavours

Two sit-down eateries in south Delhi dip their feet in the popular pop-up stream

Chanpreet Khurana
First Published8 Jan 2015
Chef Marc Bayon (extreme left) buying vegetables for the pop-up in New Delhi<br />
Chef Marc Bayon (extreme left) buying vegetables for the pop-up in New Delhi

Why would someone with a sit-down place in New Delhi want to set up a pop-up restaurant? Pop-ups are not just a business model to snip expensive real estate costs but can also be experimental spaces that allow chefs to devise new recipes, try out different equipment and techniques to improve old recipes, even expose local foodies to cuisine from another part of the world.

Two south Delhi eateries have planned such pop-ups: One, by the chic Tres restaurant, in association with the Kwality Group which runs the eponymous restaurant in Connaught Place, has already begun—it will be on at the Asiad Village till the end of March. And the Le Bistro du Parc café is flying down French chef Marc Bayon for a one-day pop-up on Saturday—the theme is The Palate Of Provence.

Chef Jatin Mallick of Tres says: “Typically, a pop-up is held over a weekend. We wanted to try the concept for 90 days to see how Delhi reacts to our experiments with food and flavourings.” The menu has some dishes we have come to expect from its creators—Mallick and chef Julia Desa. Like the Undressed Tart of Sundried Tomatoes with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Allium, Seasonal Greens, Bell Peppers and Tomato-infused Sour Balsamic, and the Linguine with Plum Tomatoes, Chorizo, and a Whisky Bacon Jam, which we wouldn’t be surprised to see on the regular menu at Tres. But there are some surprises too: The Juju-spiced chicken is served with khurchan potatoes, scraped off the bottom of a handi or tawa. The dish is cooked in the charcoal-fired, temperature-controlled Josper grill, which Mallick says arrived from Spain just weeks before the pop-up went live.

A Doh’Nut burger

The chef’s recommendation: If you’re going to try one dish on this menu, Mallick says, you might want to make it the Bacon, Cheese And Mushroom Doh’nut Burger, topped with Crisped Shards of Bacon. On the menu, the name of the dish is suffixed with a similarly persuasive descriptor: “Don’t complicate life…,” it says, “Just eat this. Period.”

Le Bistro du Parc’s pop-up is in some ways very different. The owner, Naina de Bois-Juzan, is inviting one of her food mentors, Bayon, to design and execute the pop-up at the unassuming but charming café in Moolchand Market.

Bayon says he hasn’t experimented much with the food on this menu, but hopes to tease out “authentic” provençal flavours using ingredients like sardines, olives, saffron, lamb, asparagus, strawberries and lavender.

“French cuisine is a lot more to treat the food in its original form rather than taking away the essence of the actual ingredients in the dish,” says Bayon on email. “It’s a lovely amalgamation of fruits, seasonal veggies, meat and wine.... We will also be serving Calissons d’Aix and nougats, which are typical delicacies of the south of France,” he adds.

Bayon’s recommendation: Try everything on the menu! But if you must pick, he says: “(The) Garlic Rubbed Lamb Loin with Provençale Vegetables and Lavender Jus, and Valrhona Chocolate and Orange Millefeuille with Saffron Creme Anglaise will be delicious.”

“The food scene (in New Delhi) is young,” says Mallick. “Anything you do could give you a perspective on where things could go.” That’s another reason why the chefs wanted to dip their feet in the pop-up stream—to get a sense of the direction the Delhi food scene is taking.

The pop-up by Tres and Kwality Group is on till 31 March, noon-12.30am, at Asiad Village. Meal for two, 2,500, plus taxes, inclusive of alcohol. For details, call 9910776668. The Palate Of Provence by chef Marc Bayon will be held on 10 January, noon-3.30pm/7-11pm, at Le Bistro du Parc, A-57, 58-59, Moolchand Market, Defence Colony. Meal for one, 3,000, plus taxes, for a five-course menu.

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