Cafe Haqq se – Yeh sauce alag hai boss!
Another one at Kamala Mills
Cafe Haqq se – yet another eatery in the buzzing mecca for food lovers @Kamalamills. Step into a surprisingly large space with its quirky decor. A black and white mural along one wall, marble topped tables and Irani chairs from Chor bazaar, comfy sofa couches. And a ‘Metallica’ Made in India lion! The marketing buzz has not yet caught up with this gem of a place. So beat a path to its big red door and sample the absolutely inventive food that’s on offer. Inventiveness more in the idea-led zone rather than the flash-in-the-pan, nitrogen aided molecular gastronomy that’s fast losing its charm through over-(ab)use.
Chef Milan Gupta’s inventiveness
Chef Milan Gupta helming the Cafe Haqq se kitchen has done an outstanding job. Each dish is imbued with an innovative element. A case in point being the complex flavors in the smoked dal which alone is enough reason to keep coming back. Or the Palak paneer – paneer and palak leaf fritter or tempura in a ridiculously tasty creamy sauce that will have you actually licking the bowl clean! The other differentiator of CHS is its link to music. The Sufi rock event and the Bollywood karaoke night have been a big hit. Keep a sharp lookout for upcoming events. The melodious tracks that played while we were there matched our taste and struck just the right note
We sampled a fair bit of what’s on offer across the 3-4 visits so here are some of the highlights. From the vegetarian appetizer section, the standout Samudri methi ke karare bitoks. Alu, methi, cheese tikkis topped with a mushroom sauce. Heavenly Barbequed Achari Fig and prune. Just the right balance of sweet and tart flavors, topped with a cheese sauce. Baby Alu tuk – standard issue stuff but tasty as hell. Tarbooz aur saunf – a CHS take on the watermelon feta salad with grilled fennel and ricotta to enliven the proceedings. The only survivor of the menu refresh is the Dhungari turai paneer. Smoked zucchini and Paneer tikkas with a rocket chatni.
Shammis takes the cake
The non-vegetarians have more options on offer – the Vindaloo chicken sliders were a cute-as-a-button trio of mini chicken burgers with a lovely flavoring. Bhuney chicken wings – spicy sweet glaze on them was yummy. Chicken Kursi miyani – a galouti kabab type mince stuffed into halved boiled eggs – interesting! Koliwada frito misto – lovely accompaniment to the drinks. Koyley ke jhinge – nice enough with the freshness of the prawns elevating the dish and the only survivor from the earlier menu. The Jashn-e-Shammi kababs served innovatively on a bed of crispy, mildly sweet, dry Sheer Kurma.
Bring back the creamy palak paneer!
The signature standout dish for vegetarians is the aforementioned Creamy Palak paneer which seems to have sadly been put to rest in the new menu. The Bhari mirch salan had people at the table floating off into the stratosphere from the mirchi hit. A Cafe Haqq se twist in the tail to this usually mild Hyderabadi dish. Remember not to bite into the stalk-end of the mirchi if you are not a fan of spicy food.
The Smoked dal needs to be mentioned yet again – do not miss ordering it. It gives the ITC Dal a run for its money. The simple sesame farsi beans in the accompaniments section was another huge hit at the table. It reinforced the fact that a dish does not need to be complex and laboured over. Just has to be balanced in texture and taste to work. The guava, mango and strawberry flavoured popsicle palate cleansers caused a minor riot at the table !
Butter chicken a la Kiev
Non-veggies dive into Butter chicken a la Kiev no questions asked. All samplers at Gallops or Gaylord would hone in instinctively. A boneless breast of chicken is stuffed with Makhani sauce. Instead of the usual cheese and butter. Then, it is crumbed and deep fried into absolute yumminess. Butter chicken aficionados in the group rated the sauce an absolute 10/10.
Do not commit the cardinal sin of overlooking the Kepsa Chicken rice . Despite it being humbly placed in the accompaniments section. It’s truly paradoxical that something so lightly spiced can taste so wonderfully well-flavoured. Nihari lovers will enjoy the delicate yet complex sauce in the meltingly tender Osso Bucco Lucknowi lamb.
After such a meal Chef Milan ensures you get your just desserts! The creamy Kheer Japani comes in an inventive sushi form. However it could do with a greater Wasabi hit. Try the rasogollah mousse – delicately perched on a base of crumbs. This creamy mousse is divine! The gulab jamun lovers will prefer the pista jam pie with GJs layered at the base of a pie. The absence of an ice-cream based dessert is sorely felt. The innovation continues right till the very end. Paan flavoured jujube jelly cubes accompany the bill!
Iron out the glitches
As with any new place, Cafe Haqq se too has teething issues that need ironing out. The drinks section needs definite overhauling. All of them sound exciting enough with some unique twist or the other. However there seems to be some disturbance in the force as none of the myriad drinks we ordered were standout. Some like the vodka based peppery tarbooz were downright unpalatable.
The Taleli machli too seems an assault on the poor, delicately flavored salmon – over-fried and over-salted. The cross between kulcha and a thin-crust pizza base, pan naan is a little limiting in case you don’t take to it. Thankfully other options have been added on in the Breads section. The heartening fact though is the openness to taking input that is rarely seen in most places. So make sure you give feedback on the meal. Chef Milan is definitely listening and will iron out all the kinks. Anyway few and far between in an otherwise outstanding menu.
Indian food lover? Check out the superlative Punjabi fare at Punjab grill