Review – Number 31, Defence Colony

If Def Col Market types can recognise the joy in finding a good terrace, Number 31 will be OK. Even if confusion reigns large – beginning with the restaurant’s disjointed ‘breakfast, sushi, and dimsums’ slogan – a quiet, sunny spot for good eggs and decent coffee is a rarity in this town. That is, if you can get past the identical-sunglasses-wearing kitty party crowd.

Prime (Number) Real Estate

While our nod is sincere for the top floor, 31’s remaining three levels leave a lot to be desired. The restaurant, while aesthetically ambitious, is woefully unoriginal: elements from Bistro du Parc (retro feel and bright flowers), Coast Café (a winding, old school staircase), and the casual Perch air are freely borrowed and mixed, resulting in a lopsided mishmash, made all the more awkward by a wait-staff’s promise that ‘Japanese is the main concept.’ This is something we try and keep in mind as we sift through the American-style café menu, encouraged to order the Middle Eastern Breakfast. However, despite the vortex of confusion, we love the religious focus on eggs, which get a whole section of their own.

A quiet, sunny spot for good eggs and decent coffee is a rarity in this town. That is, if you can get past the identical-sunglasses-wearing kitty party crowd.

Thank god for warm winter rays, because the music is grating and consists of five screechy songs on loop. However, efficient service helps cancel out the third time the ‘girl-I-want-to-marry-you’ song plays – our appetizer, a dish of fried wontons stuffed with pumpkin and goat cheese, arrives in a slick fifteen minutes. While perfectly sized and creamy, each little parcel gleams with high cholesterol, leaving behind a seat of oil much beyond its own size. It’s hard to eat more than two.

Middle Eastern Breakfast arrives next, beautifully cooked scrambled eggs on a flaky pastry bed, accompanied by Israeli salad and a handful of dried fruit and nuts. Although the dish embodies a good deal of labor and craftsmanship, it is ultimately misguided. The pastry – fussy, intricate and airy – detracts from the goodness of the eggs. Hearty toast would have been just fine.

Stay Soba

A tangle of soba noodles – flavored with ginger, soy sauce, and scallions – eventually makes its way up to our sofa in the sun, a pleasurable sight. While we’re happy to see the generous portion, finishing the plate is again made difficult by the overdone-ness of it all; the noodles are limp and flavor treads into masala-territory; the ‘Japanese concept’ is now made even more abstract than before. With this bite, we also spot a collection of hookahs from the corner of our eye –probably reserved for the evening kitty crowd. At this point we are wondering how far Japan really stretches in the 31 imaginary.

We finish with good-enough coffee, which makes up for the tea-bag rose tea served alongside. Although so many complaints could have been registered and so many chuckles had, life’s most important things (like sincerity, relaxation, warm sun, reasonable prices) are available here and thankfully, they haven’t met the desire to be Conceptual just yet.

Getting there: Believe it or not, number 31, Defence Colony. A big meal for two without alcohol costs Rs 2,200.

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