Debutante restaurateur Mugdha Kalra had a simple plan: to set up a delicatessen in old world Connaught Place that will tap executives looking for elegant spaces to host lunch and dinner meetings. Its location, the tony Capitol Point building at Baba Kharak Singh Marg opposite the emporiums, is undoubtedly one of the best in the centre of the city. The deli, EspressoGrill, stands above the most sophisticated car park system in Delhi and it's quite unlikely that footfalls will be a problem. Wood dominates the interiors.
A Belgian chandelier, a graffiti mural depicting a busy European street, and an open pantry, add life to the otherwise minimalist tone of straight-back wooden chairs and bare table tops. There are a few shelves stacked with breads and other ingredients that you can buy over the counter.
Tartare of smoked salmon
While the ambience is relaxed, the style of service is that of a rather formal dining space (the staff wear shiney business suits), which they can do well do without).
The menu pans across Europe and picks quick bites from France, Spain, Italy, and Turkey. Our evening begins with a roasted cauliflower soup with mushroom crostini that proves to be a great start and leaves the palate salivating for more; just what a good appetiser ought to do. The soup, as the menu suggests, is the resident chef's worthy homage to his food hero, Gordon Ramsay. The cherry tomato and garlic confit bruschetta has a good balance of sharp and sweet flavours. The barbecue pork spare ribs too are welldone and warrant a polished plate.
Speaking of which, the all-black ceramic dinnerware is a bit impractical, considering the dim lighting and a darkwood interior, and takes away from the beauty of the dish being served.
The mains at EspressoGrill have potential but are a notch below the starters. The lamb shank with potato dauphinoise was mildly seasoned and the nest of leeks that is served on top of the dish gives it messy look and can easily be done away with. The French classic, chicken cordon bleu with green pea mousseline was rather dry and needed a bit more texture to elevate the cordon bleu experience. The final dish in the mains, pork chops, was delicious. The tender meat sat on top of a bed of silky potato purée and the chops were cooked to perfection. We rounded off our evening with baklava. This dessert, served with vanilla icecream simply crumbled in the mouth.
"You learn as you go," says Kalra, as we talk about the newly-included high chairs for babies. In the few weeks since it opened, she's noticed that it isn't just men in suits who walk through her doors but families as well.
While the mains have the potential to be a few shades better, since the space is new, one can only assume that most of it is teething trouble. It has huge potential, so watch out for some exciting new food in the heart of the city.BT MORE RECOMMENDS
Raosted cauliflower soup
Barbecue pork spare ribs
Meal for two (with alcohol) Rs 2,500..(011) 23363133