By Neelima Agrawal
Sunday, where the ruling sentiment ‘Lazy’ gets into conflict with the latent need to ‘Let’s do something’, and the most desired activity is getting out for a good brunch – with all the magical ingredients of food and booze in the middle of the day. We found the ideal blend of slow, exciting, indulgent, entertaining, at Q’la at The Kila, Mehrauli.
The restaurant has been rated high and we can see why.Sun dappled courtyard, wooden tables with flowers, spacious interior dining area, and a live band with the owner of Q’la, Ranjan Chopraon the saxophone, the place is busy.
The brunch buffet is laid out outdoors and indoors. And the vision of the center table cheese board laden with blocks of a dozen types of cheese, I was in the right place. As a vegetarian, I take my cheese very seriously. The delicate flavors and textures can only be in the variety crafted in its own specific region, which is why I was particularly delighted that the Head Chef Priyam Chatterjee has sourced the best of European cow and goat milk cheese, of original Italian, Spanish, Swiss, French and English, each carrying the certification of their region. Cheddar cheese is a variety that is familiar in India. Not covered by any regional certification norms, many Indian brands of Cheddar are available locally. However, Q’la’s Cheese board has the English import.
There are the other very respectable varieties, Italian Parmesan (DOC), Pecorino (DOC), Fontal (DOP) Spanish cheese Manchego (DOP), the special gourmet Mahón cheese from the island of Minorca; French cheese Fourme de Montbrison, blue cheese Roquefort. Priyam’s effort is to pique the curiosity of his patrons to explore the range of cheese flavors. Even the infamous and rare blue cheese Gorgonzola (DOC) is available. The certification (DOC) is the acronym of Denominazione di Origine Controllata.
Those wanting to get their Cheese Facts right, this is the place. Did you know that Brie and Camembert cheese are close in taste? Chef Priyam talks about the shortage of Brie and how it is being substituted by the latter variety. For the accompaniment, there are a wide variety of fruit compotes, relish, chutney and pickles made fresh in-house and are delicious. Onion Compote and pickled gherkins get my vote.
The assortment of fresh baked breads that are a traditional Sunday breakfast staple in various regions of Europe, the light and fluffy French brioche, the dense and grainy German bread Volkorn, the plaited zopff, along with the baguette and ciabbatta. The Salad bar is rich with greens, red lettuce lolorosso, Japanese mustard leaves and such. Kalamata olives, nutty flavored Porcini mushrooms, along with the usual local fare like baby radish, amaranth.
Q’la raises the bar with the sourcing of its produce -New Zealand lamb, Yorkshire Pork, Sea Bass from Norway, Singaporean black cod, sea urchins from Andamans,Tofu from Japan. But that is just one factor. The critical index is the passion that goes into rustling up delicately flavored dishes and inventing new ones with names like ‘Snowfall in Stockholm’, which actually is what the dessert looks like – fresh snow. The servings are fulsome and wholesome.
The bar is a very exciting segment, stocked with a range of wines and liqueurs, cocktails and mocktails. Starting with a sparkling Chandon Rose wine, we moved on to the American white wine, Chateau St Michelle Chardonnay from Columbia Valley, and the French red Portant de France, Grenache; all on the recommendations of the Sommelier Prateek Arora.
The passion and energy of the very young team at Q’la is palpable, and contributes hugely to the zest and vibe of the place. I did start out thinking that both Chef Priyam Chatterjee and the Sommelier Prateek Arora were much too young to have the bandwidth that comes with the years. Happily, I was proved wrong.
Remember the saxophonist I mentioned at the start of this feature, Ranjan Chopra, the owner of Q’la, entertaining the diners? Well, what do you know, the Head Chef Priyam is a drummer and Sommelier Prateek is a guitarist. If food be the music of life – Play On. Have to go back and try their Truffles Tasting Menu. Yes, white truffles from Alba, of course.
The menu keeps changing, so expect new surprises
Cost of Sunday Brunch
Food – Rs 2050 ++; Liquor – Rs 1750 ++; Non Alcoholic Beverages – Rs 850 ++;
Kids 6 to 12 yrs – Rs 1600 ++
(Kids below the age of 6yrs on house)