Urban Cafe, Khan Market, New Delhi
Contributed by Antara Ray
I have often read vehemently negative reviews of restaurants and wondered if the writer was waiting to rush back home and spew venom in the form of a public review. Today, I have the same sentiments as I walked away from my first ever, and hopefully last visit to Urban Cafe, Khan Market.
Sitting in the heart of touristy action in Khan market, it’s hard not to miss Urban Cafe in the evenings because of its loud red decor. Meeting an old friend and colleague for a grab at Big Chill, we decided to head elsewhere for a drink, as Big Chill at Khan Market doesn’t serve alcohol. We walked into Urban Cafe knowing it to be a new place for us but also thinking ‘how bad can it be?’ Classic mistake.
The alcohol menu was interesting and exhaustive with tempting names like Hennessy VS, Malibu Coconut rum and Grey Goose vodka among others. On attempting to order any of them however, we were shown a clear choice of either Bacardi White Rum or Smirnoff Vodka. Happy hours were on at the time; in effect we could buy one and get one free. Our order of two drinks plus our freebies of two drinks were soon delivered, all together. Though we didn’t mention the peg size (as didn’t the menu), it would have been nice to be asked the desired quantity (large or small) and if we wanted all the drinks at the same time; a point we tried, unsuccessfully, to convey to five waiters and a manager. Note to self: Restrict feedback to feedback forms.
We ordered Prawn Tempura as a snack. The prawns were fresh, the batter was crunchy outside, soggy inside and served with a blob of bland radish paste. Were they trying to achieve with normal radish what would normally call for Japanese Horseradish? The platter also included a huge bowl of thinned-down light soy sauce within which I could not discern ginger or sesame oil. In retrospect, not ordering Sushi was probably a smart move.
The icing on the cake that evening however, was when someone from an adjoining table politely informed me that my hair was on fire. Hilarious huh? Wasn’t so for me. The Urban Cafe terrace smelt of burnt hair and everybody but the ever-so-cool staff, panicked. Apparently, a staff member had placed a lit candle right behind my head, after I sat down. I hadn’t noticed, neither was told of it’s presence by the enterprising staff member or indeed any staff member in the dining area. One does expect some form of response when a patron’s hair bursts into flame in a restaurant. That response ideally should be an apology, but one can make do with a graceful acknowledgement too. I received neither.
When one receives mediocre food or drink or service at an establishment, one is compelled to formally complain to the powers that be. At other times, when mediocrity appears to be the best that can be achieved, one just doesn’t bother.