Go for the drinks; stay for the starters and the dum pukht dishes, suggests Anupama Chandra
As an area, Oshiwara is rife with F&B options, from pubs, cafes, burger joints, pizzerias to breweries and your regular family all-day diners. Having launched itself into this thick competition last year, the brassiere themed ‘Off the Grid’ is marked by its roominess with three sections that could easy make room for 75-odd people over the weekends.
Enter the eatery through the outdoor seating area, a lovely place on a breezy evening with its patio furniture and fairy lights, even as they open their doors at 5.30 pm. From here, stroll right to the lounge cum dance floor (Thursdays are earmarked for live performances while Fridays/Saturdays the DJ makes you groove) or choose to go left to the fine dine area. Having hit them on a quiet evening, we amble over to the fine dine section for some unwinding. Handed the menu, we are amazed by the variety in food and beverages.
A drink can make your evening, and we were looking to make ours. Our first drink order, a ‘Whisky Malai Mar Ke’ came dressed in an unassuming fist-sized kulhad with what looked like thandai topped with badams. One swig and all illusions are dispelled; it is a shot of strong whisky jamming with cream and making sweet music in the mouth. Lemony-lime flavours spell summer thirst-quenchers and their mocktail ‘OTG Cool Icy’ in the Green Apple option hit the spot; ask for other flavours if you want.
We were eyeing the ‘Melsil Chuski’ where our spice muse Basil mixes with melons and vodka but opted instead for a ‘Black Scotsman’. They call it a smooth “an eye-opener drink with whisky and caffeine” and we totally agree. Served in a steel hip flask, the sharp flavoured Scotsman is very smooth indeed. Opting for a non-alcoholic ‘Rang Barse’ that actually wore all shades of the rainbow, we found the sweet pomegranate and passion fruit flavors overpowering the rest of the juices; a tad too sweet for our liking.
Desi videsi twist
Their Bar Nibbles are popular with the regulars and we fell in line with the ‘Khichiya Nachos’ and a side of ‘Classic Ceasar Salad’, and knew immediately why they are so loved. A tangy salsa and sweet cream tied to the unlikely khichiya papad makes for a lovely marriage; we think a dash of heat would have upped the dish to another level altogether. I love the Ceasar and try it at every chance I get, to my utter disappointment usually. This was a different day, as they served me a terrific Ceasar— crunchy leaves, crisp garlic croutons and a generous shaving of parmesan. Only that the salad needed to be tossed a little more with the dressing, not just have it poured on top of it.
We bravely marched passed some tempting burgers (they are said to bake their own breads) and Italian options to settle on Indian appetisers, and were greeted by a huge selection. The ‘OTG Tandoori Veg Platter’ promised a serving of four appetisers and we looked forward to it. The ‘Achaari Paneer’ was overly salty; the stuffing of the ‘Aloo Nazakat’ was very sweet and not balanced well by other seasonings, while the rare ‘Jimmy Khand Ke Kebab’ just passed muster. Our favourite from the selection was the ‘Tandoori Mushrooms’, which were juicy and yet well cooked.
On the chef’s recommendation, we tried the oriental veg starter, ‘Water Chestnut and Sweet Chilli Glaze’, and it was pure joy with the sticky sauce complimenting the batter-fried crunchy bits excellently. For the non-veg appetisers, ‘Dum Ka Murg’ and the ‘Galouti Kebab’ were recommended, and we were not disappointed for having chosen to go with them. Both the chicken chunks and juicy minced lamb patties were melt-in-the-mouth soft and the flavours just right. Both the dishes are stars in their own right and helped us decide to we stay within the ambit of Indian cuisine for the main course.
Fenugreek is a typically Indian spice, so we asked for ‘Methi Murg Malai’ and ‘Dal Makhani’, with ‘Missi Roti’. Again, the murgh was excellent and the dal buttery good, but the flavor of methi had disappeared under the creamy cashew gravy. We think we messed up by pairing these two with the missi roti. Wish we had been steered to the naans and the main course would have been better.
With tummies as full as can be, we were still enticed to share a ‘Classic Tiramisu’, a simple dessert that is so easy to mess up. The coffee flavour was there and right, the lady fingers were delish, only the cream needed more whipping to have pillowed into the feathery lightness that classifies an awesome Tiramisu.
Off the Grid can go off-the-menu if you so want, as they aim to please. Their alcoholic offerings will have its own fan following, with creative cocktails, a well-stocked bar and their own range of craft beers. My next visit will be all about these craft beers and the burgers.
We were looking to unwind and the ambience was just right. We found the staff friendly and service prompt. Well-travelled chef Ali has lots of experience but we found his dum pukht style (slow cooking style that is prevalent in the Khyber regions) the strongest.
We say— Go for the drinks; stay for the starters.
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