Qla, The Kila, Mehrauli- Hubby and I picked it for the ‘Sunday Brunch’ and boy it seemed like a perfect thing to do in Delhi by the winter sun. If you haven’t been on a lunch date for a long time or you fancy doing one amidst some live music and tasteful setting in a courtyard, you must read on.
I am not sure what it means to you but the word ‘Brunch’ sounds sumptuous and filling to me. On this Sunday, it sounded all the more appetizing because I was doing a brunch after a long time. However, I had not forgotten the rule – when its brunch, you must turn up for it empty stomach to make the most of it. I reached Qla at 12:45 p.m. and opted for a table in the open. In the inside, the decor is immaculate and posh but I love their under-the-sky setup in the courtyard. And their terrace with a view of the Qutub Minar is one of my favorites in Delhi. Qla isn’t new to me and I have always loved it for its food and ambiance. It makes for an excellent choice for chilled out get together with friends and an elegant lunch with clients.
While we were still warming up to the idea of palate pleasing day, the agile staff pulled in chairs and helped us settle in quick. We had the luxury of the most central position in the courtyard. The tables for four and more around us were already occupied. I took a while to study my surroundings and my eyes praised the subtle Christmas decorations flinging from one end to another. And I must mention I totally loved the mandarin tree next to our table. It looked beautiful with little Christmas bells hanging in between its leaves. And along with the food stations, the musical corner was also brimming with energy. Hubby and I were really looked forward to this musical afternoon. Not to be revealed now but I can’t hold myself from saying that it turned out to be a mellifluous one.
In the next five minutes, our table was set to take us on a gastronomical journey. Soon, the salad bar came in alive and the live counters swung in action. We were served with six cute glasses of mocktails and cocktails, some breads, cheese, fruit compotes and pickled gherkins. There were two mocktails- ginger lime, pomegranate and four cocktails – gin, smirnoff, smirnoff gold and vodka. Pomegranate was amazingly refreshing. I went for a second shot immediately. While one could see the arrangements of the salads, soup, pizza, live grills and main course in the courtyard, it was apparent that the bread window, cheese board, anti pasti and the desserts had indoor placements.
Qla’s menu takes inspiration from cooking techniques deeply rooted in but not limited to France, the cradle of mother cuisine. There’s also equal emphasis on curated wines and handpicked cocktails that come together to make a great experience. The elaborate brunch offers an exhaustive selection of antipasti, pizzas, live grills, hot entrees, cocktails and desserts.
No doubt, I was spoiled for choice when I read through their cheese board. There was Parmesan, Pecorino, Gorgonzola, Ricotta, Manchego, Mahon, Emmental Swiss cheese, Cheddar, Stilton, Chevre, Bire and Gruyere procured from different countries. While there were enough bread and cheese combinations to relish on, I couldn’t take my eyes off the compotes and pickled assortments. I went around the whole display twice and helped myself with a spoonful of each of it- Pineapple compote, Prunes compote, Raspberry compote, Figs compote, Papaya relish, Onion compote and Plum compote. Almost all of them were sweet and savory but Raspberry compote was a complete winner. It is here that I realized that dry fruit chutney could be an amazing relish too. Pickled gherkins, onions and olives were good but pickled mushrooms and chestnuts became my favorite in no time. Along with this there were plenty of dry fruits available on this table and I learnt it from a staff member there that if you do not like any of the assortments, dry fruits always help to clear the palette. Overall, this section absolutely stood out. One wouldn’t get to see most of these appetizers in the usual brunch menus offered around the city.
After the appetizers, I walked through the salad bar to get myself a bowl of salads. I ordered for a small helping of my favorite assortments but if you are a health freak, I bet you wouldn’t be disappointed because there was arugula, mizuna, bakchoy, baby radish, coriander, amaranth, red radish, mustard, french baby beans, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, baby beets, kalamata olives, tomato confit, asparagus, porcini, ceps, orange, grapefruit, kiwi, grapes, green apple, chest nuts, almonds, hazel nuts, lettuce, corn fed sous vide chicken, boiled eggs, poached prawns, caramelized roasted chicken and much more. I bet you have spotted your favorite picks too.
In contrast to plenty of options, it was very easy to settle for just one soup (oven roasted Tomato tamarind sorbet) and gladly it was perfectly done to my taste. While I was having the salads, I could already see the energy flowing at the live counters. Of course, it was one of the most delighting part of the setup. The prawns, sole fish, pan grilled cottage cheese steaks with burnt garlic & tomato sauce, chicken breast and Moroccan lamb patties looked irresistible.
I couldn’t avoid the temptations and immediately walked towards the grill. Hubby only moved when he had finished the salads. The fish was succulent and the chicken breast was grilled to absolute perfection. The minced lamb did not impress me however the grilled cheese with vegetables was delectable. In the meanwhile, we had also ordered cheese-less pizza at the wood fire pizza station. I must say it absolutely lived up to its name and size.
After indulging in the pizza, I was almost full and if I had a sweet tooth I could have easily skipped the main course and move on to the desserts. But since I could keep my eyes off the desserts even though red velvet looked nothing less than mouth watering, I decided to walk through the main course and relish chef’s hard work first through my eyes and then through my taste buds. Of all the options, I filled my plate with some curry flavored pillaf, with pistache and almond and truffled cauliflower risotto with caramelize walnut & pistachio crumb. The pilaf was thrilling and cauliflower risotto was something new for me.
I must mention that the brunch menu catered to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians in a very balanced way and there were interesting twists to the food. There were not too many distractions and yet there was immense variety. My husband who isn’t a meat eater had lots to choose from and he dug into his plate with relish. The main course really impressed me. If you aren’t looking for thick gravies and heavy spices, I am sure you will love it too. The steamed and parmesan breaded silken tofu on oriental essence and coconut gravy did not create the desired impact on me but the grilled polenta steaks with garlic volute & charred baby carrot was quite a pleasurable indulgence.
A brunch is never complete without desserts. The options were Macroon ( raspberry & salted caramel ), Key lime tart, Saffron brulee on hazelnut sable, Nut & butterscotch bar, Red velvet, Chocolate marquise with ginger gelee insert, Pistachio medeliene with vanilla panacotta. Look at the picture below and you will be convinced for yourself that they were so fresh and good. The red velvet was the trophy dessert.
Overall, I would rate my experience as 8 on 10. While I regularly indulge in food in different corners of Delhi and beyond, this was uniquely different. The good food, the warmth of the weather, lovely music, cheer in the air, effortless service and romantic set up enhanced the beauty of the experience in many ways. The conversations that happened over food gave me lovely memories of this day.
The F&B curation was done by Chef Priyam Chatterjee (Head Chef) and Prateek Arora (Sommelier). No doubt this brunch setting is quite a charmer for those who love to sample fine wine with great food. Before, I forget I must mention that I was invited to the restaurant for this experience but the views are all mine.