With a cosy outdoor seating, lingering jazz music, and oh-so-delicious coffee, Delhi’s hidden eatery in Saket, Altogether Experimental, truly lives up to its name of being different. We sample its offerings. By Bayar Jain
I’m told the brunch menu here lures diners, and I can see why the moment I step into its premises. A quick walk on a rugged path later, I find myself gazing at black cane tables and chairs, paired with bright yellow umbrellas to shade. A white wall lined with potted Areca Palms border the area, while jazz tunes linger in the background. Beyond a glass door frame, more seating options greet. Picture white walls with wooden shelves backdropped by bamboo blinds cascading from the top on one end, sombre brown and grey hues donning the furniture in the centre, and countless plants interspersed into the setting. Soon, I learn that freshness permeates through their dishes as well since Altogether Experimental boasts of being a minimal waste scratch kitchen, which means all ingredients and produce are used from start to finish without shortcuts and wastage.
While I would have loved to visit during the day for a weekend brunch, my schedule allows for a weekday dinner, instead. The cosy winter winds compel me to sit outdoors, while their coffees warm my heart. Anukriti Anand, the restaurant’s chef-owner, suggests the Hot Butterscotch Latte and Winter Hot Choc. While the sweetness of the butterscotch concoction tastes good, the Winter Hot Choc emerges victorious. The 55 per cent Barry Callebaut dark hot chocolate present in the drink sings on my palate, leaving me smiling gleefully as it swirls its way down my throat. With my senses now awake, it’s time for some food.
Keeping in sync with new-age COVID-19-induced restaurant norms, a scannable QR code menu sits on the table. Apart from brews and smoothies, a range of breakfast dishes, flatbreads, dessert delicacies, daily bakes, cruffins, dips and spreads complete the menu. Towards the end, a ‘pawsome’ menu finds a space, too. Think pet-friendly cookies, pupcakes, eggs and an on-the-house puppuccino.
My first dish is Crispy Sweet Potato and Beetroot Croquette tacos. The purple-red pepper-infused croquettes wrapped in soft-shell tacos melt upon eating, juxtaposing the crunch of the purple cabbage slaw harmoniously. The jalapeño sour cream provides the right amount of silkiness to it all.
Next up is a A.T.E. Shoyu Ramen, Katsu Tofu bowl—the cafe’s take on a herby broth. The lemongrass broth fuses countless flavours such as the kick of chilli bean paste; the earthiness of mirin and shiitake mushrooms; the crunch of bok choy and nori leaves; chewiness of tofu; and the saltiness of ramen. For those looking for unique flavours, this filling dish ticks all the boxes.
Amongst the array of flatbreads available here, Anand suggests the mushroom, pesto, cream cheese and walnut variation. The soft pâté is slathered with mushroom paste, topped with dollops of cream cheese, fresh basil, and salted walnuts for a crunchy surprise. Despite being skeptical at first, I find myself polishing the plate clean.
For desserts, I dig into the daintily plated mini flourless chocolate cake. Complete with coffee bean cremeux, roasted hazelnuts, edible flowers, and a mildly-bitter honeycomb, this dessert is ideal for folks looking for some meal-end indulgence. The trick to biting into this dish is to scoop multiple elements with each bite.
By the end of the meal, I’m stuffed and completely convinced that Altogether Experimental is here to stray away from the conventional. And understandably so, considering an all-girls kitchen anchors this space in an otherwise male-dominated industry.