In a nutshell:
Super impressed by the food, the awesome cocktails & a fabulous chat with the two brothers who own this place.
Address & other details: Cocktails & Dreams Speakeasy
Meal for 2: Rs. 1500 onwards (including alcoholic drinks).
Cuisine type : Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of theindividual iem ratings. What the ratings stand for : 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
For the uninitiated, The inspiration of the Bar is from the numerous speakeasy bars that used to thrive in the US in 1920s. For the uninitiated, ‘speakeasy’ was referred to an establishment that used to illegally sell alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition (1920–1933, longer in some states). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States.
To avoid problems in case of sudden raids, these bars used to have backdoor entrances (at times), alcohol used to be served in tea cups , they had tricky doors and basements, access to which was screened or through passwords and the bar could be hidden at the touch of a button.
In short, the bars used to be dark dingy. Shady etc. Cocktails & dreams speakeasy is also made in a somewhat similar way – dark, occasional bulbs, waiters & bar-guys dressed up in Old American way. The décor has quite a bit of grunge look…… What catches attention are the huge posters on the wall – really cool.
To begin with, as we reached the entrance of the gate, we found that the black gate was shut. On it was written ‘Knock 3 times to enter’. The knock did not work & we pushed the door. It opened:) There was of course a security guard to help us but we chose to follow the writing on the door.
As we entered, we found a tiny bar in the corner & 4-5 tables with chairs around them. As we were about to sit, a guy came across & said – Why don’t u go to the basement , it is nice………….. & yes it was, we discovered as we reached the basement thru a wooden staircase covered with steel wire mesh on the sides.
The bar area was quite interesting – There were loads of books kept in the middle. Fresh fruits & herbs were kept in a corner & of course loads of bottles of alcohol. I was wondering who reads books in such a place & it was then that I noticed an elderly gentleman reading a book & enjoying his glass of wine.
There was a stage in one corner of the room in which a band was setting up their equipment. There r live bands every Friday & Saturday here. There were hi stools beside the bar & of course there were normal seating as in ground floor. Since we did not book a table, we had to go for a bar chair. That actually turned out to b a boon for 2 reasons – A. there was a bulb just above the place where I was sitting – so I cud click good pictures. B. We started a conversation with ‘the cocktail artist’ & owner, Yangdup Lama sitting at the bar & that ended up into a superb adda (chat) that lasted almost 2 hrs.
It all started with the server asking us what we wanted. We said ‘Give us something that u r proud of’. He said ‘choose ur base – Vodka, Whisky, Rum’. We said ‘Almost everyone makes vodka cocktails. Not too many in Delhi make good Whiskey based – so let’s try that’. They kept asking for more details & we said ‘the best u can’……….. & then appeared Mr. Lama. He heard the brief & immediately proceeded to make the drink himself!!!! As he returned for feedback, we started off the chat & that lasted till we were around. His brother joined in later & we had a good round of chat with him as well. True to YUMMRAJ’s principle, our identity was not revealed till we paid the bill & stood up to shake hands & say goodbye.
The story is that Yangdup has been in this profession for last 17 years & he has had the opportunity to work with some great international & national bar tenders. His brother, an avid trekker, has worked in India & abroad in Restaurants & is quite a genius in coming up with simple lovable food. December last year both decided to leave their jobs & start off on their own & here they are……….
The menu card was very interesting looking – a wooden board with sheets of paper clipped to it. There is no seafood in the menu as the Chef thinks ‘Quality of seafood / fish is not up to the mark in Delhi – so the food will never match up to expectations of Globe-trotting customers’.
The cocktails rocked & so did the drooling good food.
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
The first drink that he fixed was Mint Julep with a surprise flavor. It was just outstanding & the best of the evening. I wud give it a 5/5. I knew I know the flavor but kept wondering what the flavor was & it turned out to be kaffir lime!!!!!
Another drink was made with a combo of Scotch & American whiskey & it was Apple & cinnamon flavored. U cud call it an Apple pie drink!!!! Very good again.
Loved the ‘Whiskey sour’ a lot– it is made with egg whites!!!!!
The 4th drink – I do not remember the name. Not that I was sloshed but I just forgot the name. Loved that as well.
In a city where many people struggle to serve even a good lemonade / mojito, the drinks at this place were a class apart. I wud give the cocktails a collective 4.5/5.
We started the food with ‘pig in a blanket’. Yes u got it right. It was sausage wrapped in bacon with honey mustard mayo. Simple but drooling good. I do not remember having such a simplistic but superb thing recently.
What was astonishing was the little side made with the worthless cabbage – it had cumin seed & onion seed in it & I don’t want to guess what else. It was wow. We finished it off till the last strand. A straight 4.75/5 for this dish.
The second dish was mutton sliders with French fries & ketchup – A set of 4 mini burgers. The fries were very good – perfectly done. The sliders had 5 layers – Gherkins at the top, top layer of bun, a slice of tomato, mutton patty, bottom layer of patty. The sliders were good but cud not reach the greatness of the pig in a blanket. The reason was two – A. The patty was either sub-optimally salted / our tastebuds had got used to excess salt of the fries. So we added a bit of salt & it was much better – but still not the best.
I have been eating beef sliders for quite some time. There the taste of the patty is usually very robust & is juicy. Conceptually difficult for meats like mutton/chicken to match that level. So I guess an option is to reduce the number of layers / choose thinner breads / thicker patty / softer breads etc. I wud give the sliders a 3/5.
The final food item that we had was Speakeasy Pork chops. Loved this again. It had a layer of fat that had got crisp at the corners & as we bit into them , they burst out with juice.
The meat was quite tender. The seasoning was awesome. The mashed potato was one of the best I have had in the past few months – It had a texture to it & was perfect to taste even on its own. I give this dish a 4.25/5 again.
Overall the rating of food & drinks add up to 4.3/5. This place is surely recommended by YUMMAJ. Will look forward to ur comments.
Went to Speakeasy on Day 2 to have new item on the menu – Hillbilly Dinner (Local food of Darjeeling, West Bengal).
We started with Speakeasy Pork sandwich. It was Sweetened pork with caramelized onions with options of cheese served with fries & coleslaw. Rich, juicy meat & intensity of caramelization amidst burger bun. Loved it loads.
Post this we moved to Flatbreads (melted cheese topped, side chopped salad) with Spicy Shrimp – Spicy Chilly Garlic butter, red onions, lemon juice, cilantro filling. Once again, well baked, perfect to taste & super flavors.
Last food for the evening was Spinach pork curry – Pork curry cooked in country style with rice, black lentil, radish pickle & spicy potato salad.
The black lentil was excellent. Thick, slightly slimy but intense to taste.
Radish pickle & Spicy potato salad were very useful as well.
The pork was very good – Spicy, different, tasty , with soft meat pieces.
As u wud have gathered already, we loved the Hilly Billy Dinner. Infact, YUMMRAJ recommends this section to food adventurers & those who have capability to try new food.
Recently revisited them for a whiskey festival. Whiskey cocktails, whiskey from different countries, food based on whiskey and so on. Loved the pig in a blanket with whiskey poured on top & set to flames….