The interiors of Depot 29.
The interiors of Depot 29.

Lounge Review | Depot 29, New Delhi

Depot 29, conceptualized by partner and chef Ritu Dalmia, has confusing decor but scores with its cocktails

This was my second time at Depot 29, a music and food “depot" (29 being the pin code for the area). I was hoping to taste more of its very extensive menu, conceptualized by partner and chef Ritu Dalmia. I already knew that despite the buzz that it serves Mexican food (not a completely misplaced assumption, given the Guacamole Bar, Taco Bar and Quesadilla Bar sections on the menu), Depot 29 is actually a café also dealing in burgers, waffles and grilled dishes.

The décor can also be confusing. The 48-seater, two-storey café features old magnetic tapes on a shelf, mini pine-wood crates with bonsai plants, exposed industrial AC ducting and pipes, and pillars wrapped in a black vinyl disc-print wallpaper. The size of the tables made me more uncomfortable. The four-seaters barely accommodate three people, plus food. The two-seaters are absurdly designed for a restaurant. You don’t sit opposite one another but face each other diagonally across a thin wooden table. So, if you look up, you end up facing a stranger at the table across. Over the course of a full meal, this can be very disconcerting for the stranger.

The good stuff

Although Depot 29 has just got its alcohol licence and has limited cocktails, the two we tried hit the spot. The Red Wine Sangria ( 525) was fruity and undiluted, with crunchy pieces of apple. The Ginger Cosmo ( 450) was an unusual mix of Prosecco and ginger ale that left us happy.

The (eggless) dessert waffle we chose was the Chocolate Gianduja with Caramelised Nuts ( 470). The waffles were a large enough portion for two, crisp and fresh, and the accompanying Oreo ice cream added the required creamy element.

Interestingly, they have live performances twice a week. The restaurant has been professionally soundproofed and equipped with speakers at strategic spots.

The not-so-good

The dessert waffle

The Scottish Salmon Burger with Avocado Mayo and Spicy Sambal ( 575) was overcooked, and there was no hint of avocado in the mayo. The spicy sambal was anything but spicy (I later learnt they were discontinuing it. I wish our server had warned us). We tried the Mole Marinated Chicken Piccatas tossed in Green Tomatillo Sauce ( 575) in anticipation of a rich, spicy mole flavour. Alas, what we got was a thin, pan-grilled chicken breast with no hint of mole. The tomatillo sauce was bland. I asked for the mole separately for a taste and found it to be dark and flavourful. I wish they had used it on top of the piccata instead of as a marinade.

According to the owners, Depot 29 serves “comfort food". The presentation somewhat defeats the pitch. The guacamoles come in little chai glasses with espresso spoons. While this is great from the point of view of double-dipping, you have to pick up your nacho, spoon your guacamole delicately over it and eat it. Comfort food means dipping your nacho in a wide-mouthed bowl of guacamole.

Talk plastic

A Sunday lunch for two with four cocktails comes to 5,100, including taxes.

Depot 29, B 6/2, Level 2 & 3, Commercial Complex, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi. Open noon-1am. For reservations, call 011-43139867.

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