Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Food At Hauz Khas Social

Vidit Bhargava
Earlier this month I went to the Social Cafe At Hauz Khas Village. Yes, I was in part compelled to visit the place because of the extended feature it got in Imtiaz Ali's Tamasha. But also, because I had gone (for the first time) To the Hauz Khas Village and didn't want to go a place where I had already been to, in other parts of the city. A little about the Hauz Khas Village first. Don't go to that place unless you want to witness a barrage of crowd and stacked up shops in all sorts of dimensions, constructed in what is basically an ordinary market which would have felt slightly better had the lake near it not been so polluted or its nearby monument had not been over crowded with crazy teenagers taking potentially life threatening “selfies”. So, that's the summary for HKV, it's an over-rated market with branches of most of the hyped up restaurants, cafes and shops of the city being accessible in a small radius of 1-2km.

Back to Social then. Social falls under the category of “Themed Cafes”. Social goes a step further though, it themes each cafe differently. The one in Hauz Khas Village branch has a 'rural' theme. So, you'll see a lot of incandescent bulbs around the place, concrete textured walls, taps that you'd generally see in a rural setting. Social is excessively themed. Themed to a fault! Actually. For examples, the tables are sort of intentionally under-polished. And this is a problem. While I was there, a splinter from the under polished table caught my sweater and ruined the wool winding slightly. Thankfully, it wasn't a severe damage to my sweater but beware when you are there.
Also, something that I noted was that Social is a heavily successful place. So, on a Saturday afternoon the place was so crowded that it affected the service. One of the managers told us that we couldn't just walk in and sit on any empty table we felt like and that we'd have to wait outside until the place gets emptier. That's the rudest thing I've heard at a cafe. It's understandable to a degree but it was also heavily discomforting. But we did get a slightly better spot in place of that, so not many harsh feelings there.

Like I said before, social is themed to a fault and the faults are exemplified when you begin with the process of ordering the food. The menu, is horribly designed. It's designed as a newspaper But unlike one, it's mostly a single column layout. It's practically impossible to read it effectively. The composition is such, that it makes it hard to figure out some of the essentials, like whether the dish is vegetarian or not or whether the beverage is alcoholic or not or simply, what is the composition of the dish. You just get a fancy name and a vague explanation Of the composition. It's hard to order properly from this menu.

After I did get past the utterly confusing menu, I did have something to eat, which were basically Jalapeño and Cheese Nuggets with a fancier name along with a platter of something that contained a bunch of dips, pita bread and a cheese patty shaped as a samosa. Again, I was unsure of what I was having because of the terrible menu composition And whatever I had didn't seem to adhere to any proper cuisine, and felt more like a chef's experiment. The taste of it was fine, but it wasn't great but it wasn't uneatable either. Poor design decisions prevailed over here as well. Having the jalapeño nuggets was a nightmare. They came stacked in a small bucket, and there was hardly any place to in there to take out the nugget comfortably. The platter was a slightly better experience though. Served in a conventional plate It was much simpler to eat. The beverages were a completely different story though. They tasted great and although they too were served in a crazy unnecessarily different way, they weren't bad. I had a great Iced Tea, which got served to me in what looked like a miniature bath tub.

Overall, while I was walking out of the place, I did have the feeling of experiencing something different And somewhat cool but also that, that this isn't the place for me. Hauz Khas Social isn't actually a bad cafe. It's that kind of a place where teens would take their friends to impress them with Cool gimmicks, I'm not sure if those guys Care about the quality of food (You can probably guess, I was never a part of that group) or just the kind of place where Imtiaz Ali would provide a setting to a great AR Rahman song (Listen: Tum Saath Ho). Social is just not the place where you would spend a quite afternoon, enjoying your food in solace.