Interior of Prankster
Interior of Prankster

Lounge review: Prankster, New Delhi

Spread over a massive space with lots of thematic tricks, with gimmicky food that's supposed to be a spin on nostalgia

Prankster is the new 250-seater with every type of bell and whistle and funky innovation that young executives and college kids demand these days. The 10,000sq ft space is broken up into eight themed seating sections – the canteen, the classroom, the library, the amphitheatre, the mixology lab, the dormitory, the parking lot and lover’s point.

In keeping with what seems to be a new trend in the NCR, Prankster is designed to keep out the sun and play music at nightclub decibels – even at lunchtime. As I enter, smoke from liquid nitrogen wafts up from tables. A venture of restaurateur Inderjeet Banga (Pirates of Grill) and Pawan Soni of Indian Food Freak, a website of reviews and interviews, serves ‘Progressive Nostalgia’, a spin on all things nostalgic.

Lamb Chops
Lamb Chops

The good

The service is attentive and the staff smartly attired. They humoured our movement from section to section and table to table – the canteen was too crowded, the mixology lab too loud, the amphitheatre too open – till we settled, rather predictably, in the library, the quietest, simplest section in the restaurant. They handed us a mind-boggling menu with over 300 items to choose from, and I was taken aback by the food pricing: Unbelievably low for NCR.

Of their craft beers, we liked the Dark Roast Wheat (Rs85/glass). It was bitter and had solid body. We also tried the Babaji Ki Booti (Rs275), a tall refreshing signature Bacardi cocktail with lime, ginger, black salt, and mint. I especially appreciated the judicious use of black salt which enhanced, but did not overpower, the drink.

On to the food. We started with a large cup of Sambhar Cappucino with Dosai Crisp (Rs149). It was hearty and vaguely reminiscent of Mulligatawny, and perfect for upcoming nippy nights in Delhi.

Among the small plates, the Nitro Cooked Dahi Bhalla with Roomali Sev (Rs245) was beautifully presented with the chef pouring liquid nitrogen over the bhalla. It was a tangy chaat to whet the appetite. Word of advice —wait five minutes before eating it unless you want your brain to freeze over. The Imli Glazed Kung Pao Chicken, Coconut Foam (Rs275) did indeed have a great kick of tamarind even on the fried cashewnuts and spring onions. The Imli Goli it came with, however, was a bit of an overkill. The Chettinad Chilli Crab, Curd Chilli, Ghee Toasted Pav (Rs495) was plated like pav bhaji. The light pepper flavour on the crab was perfectly balanced so as not to overwhelm the taste of the crab, which is flown in from Chennai. The Keema Kaleji Kulcha (Rs245) had four filo pockets of kulcha stiffed with spiced keema. It had familiar northern flavours and was filling and hearty.

The best dish hands down was the TT Lamb Chops (Rs445), three lamb chops marinated in Punjabi spices and braised before being cooked in an oven till the meat fell off the bone. It was memorable. The Chicken Tikka Fatir (Rs345), a filo base Moroccan pizza, was light yet filling; the taste reminded me of a kathi roll. I enjoyed the flaky pastry as a base.

The not-so-good

When the chef has a vision but is ready to be influenced by popular feedback, the menu can end up being a mish-mash. Many of the dishes seem confused. Consider the deconstructed Palak Paneer Momo (Rs175): Paneer momos, on a bed of makhani sauce garnished with Asian-style fried spinach. My tastebuds were mighty confused.

The Sago Samosa, Kiwi Sauce (Rs275), three pieces of filo samosa filled with Sago Khichdi Maharastrian-style, came on a plate with a kiwi sauce at the bottom. The khichdi tasted far from Maharastrian and the kiwi did nothing for the dish except add a contrasting colour. Too many elements, too many tastes.

The deserts need work. We tried the Textures of Jalebi (Rs295), a generous dessert both in portion size and in the level of sweetness. The jalebi churros, crisp, boondi and traditional style came with an overpowering saffron ice-cream. I had a bite of the Coconut Payasam with Baked Saffron Sheera (Rs 245) and was left with a strange bittersweet aftertaste from the chewy Sheera. I must have instinctively made a face and the attentive staff, upon noticing it, comp’d our dessert.

Prankster is great for youngsters and the food has immense potential, if only the chef can stick to slightly more authentic flavours and spurn the “fusion".

Talk plastic

A meal for four (one cocktail, one soup, one indimomo, one pizza, four small plates, one main) cost us 3131, inclusive taxes.

Prankster: 8-9-10, Sector 29 Main Market, Gurgaon. From noon to midnight. Call +91 0124-4266653/54 for reservations.

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