In a nutshell:
Being a regular at starbucks whenever I travel abroad, the Delhi branch evoked mixed feelings – While it is surely above average as compared to other coffee shops/chains/ patisseries in Delhi, it is surely not the best when it comes to food. Shockingly average when it comes to hot coffee & very good at hot chocolate & cold teas. The description below is full of comparisons with other joints.
Address & other details: Starbucks
Meal for 2: Rs. 400 onwards.
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 the individual item 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:
Starbucks in the US & places like Hongkong is a street corner shop that u get every few steps – almost like what a Café coffee day is in India. The décor in most of those cafes is almost as good as what say a Barista is in India – Not at al premium but mid range.
In India Starbucks however has been launched as a premium coffee shop – my inference is from the design language & the look & feel that u experience on entering the café. The walls are covered with intricate woodwork (huge execution issues – panels not matching in continuation, bad finish etc). The seating is of 4 types – along a long marble bench, in cubicles with sofas & chairs, normal café seating along the window & sitting on the bar.
There r some serious issues with the way the seating is organized. In such a high traffic store, seating shud ideally be more in number rather than in lounge type. So u see a couple occupying a cubicle that can seat 8 people & they r sipping off their coffee for an hour while other people are standing & eating in absence of space to sit!!!!! The lounge area looks pretty plush – see picture. However, as u sit in the sofas u realize they r normal seats covered with very nice velvety cover. Not comfortable like in a lounge. The bar area seating is pretty less – I guess 4 -5 people can sit & eat. The long marble table is very beautiful & it announces Tata & Starbucks getting together to launch this Global chain in India. That was often occupied by separate groups not known to each other. Good format. Suits here.
What I have experienced in general & at Starbucks in particular is that coffee is something that depends a lot on the ‘barista’ inspite of working on same ingredients. By definition ‘A barista (from the Italian for “bartender”) is a person, usually a coffee-house employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. Beyond the preparation of espresso (and other beverages) and general bartending skills (interaction with customers, handling and scheduling orders, etc.), skilled baristas acquire knowledge of the entire process of coffee to effectively prepare a desired cup of coffee, similar to how a sommelier is familiar with the entire process of wine making and consumption. This knowledge includes the correct operation, maintenance and programming of the machine, grinding and tamping methods, extraction times, water temperature and quality, micro milk frothing, free pouring, latte art, roasting, coffee plant cultivation, drying methods, correct storage, renewable methods of disposal, recycling of the coffee and packaging used.
World Barista Championships, held annually at varied international locations is a Global competition. Baristas worldwide compete, though they must first compete in a competition held in their own country to qualify to enter in the WBC.
While I have seen variations in coffee in different shops in Hongkong / say different shops in Canton USA, the differences usually are within a band of low to high. Most of the differences also came from who was making the coffee at Starbucks. The coffee at Starbucks Delhi was surely lower than the ‘band’ I just talked about.
Starbucks usually sells coffee beans all across the globe in vacuum sealed packs, for people to use the same beans at home as well. I am on starbucks coffee thru-out the year – that is what I begin my day with. Needless to say, the starbucks beans was one of the ‘must haves’ in my shopping list for the last 7-8 years that I have got used to Starbucks coffee. It is great to finally go to Saket to buy a pack than to wait for my next trip to the US.
People – Difference between a good café & a great café is its people. Starbucks Delhi has pretty much smarter people as compared to the average guy manning food courts / low to mid end restaurants. It does not however seem to have guys who have a passion for coffee / passion for food / passion for service – that is what makes a lot of difference. Most r pretty straight-faced, over-worked, coping with humungous pressure & smiles if at all, are forced. Why not employ maybe some people who might just add a bit more of warmth & maturity to the transactions. I have seen that in cafés in Europe, Far East & the US as well. The human factor / warmth is currently missing at Starbucks Delhi. It is just too mechanical.
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
We started our breakfast with Garden Vegetable Quiche. This was a large quiche that was cut into triangular shapes. It was very good – flaky layery dark brown outer layer, crunchy veggies amidst cheese in the middle. Simple, no nonsense, yet very good. Impressed with this one & give it a 4.5/5.
We then moved on to Classic Breakfast sandwich. The bread in the sandwich was like that of a burger in terms of shape. In texture, it was crispy towards the top & soft inside. Very good texture. The filling was that of egg & sliced sausages. The sausages were normal plain sausages – like the ones found all over in frozen sections of departmental stores – character-less, flavor-less & almost taste-less. The egg part was nice though. Overall, the sandwich tasted good & top it with good texture of the bun, this one gets a 3.5/5.
Chicken & vegetable lattice – This one is a classic case of good concepts badly localized. This was very good baked top ‘jaali’ layer & bottom layer – flaky, lapery & nice. Problem started with the filling – Bell peppers cud not remain crunchy, the filling was overtly tomatoee chicken as if I was having a badly made butter chicken. Infact the taste of the tomatoee sauce was so overpowering that it killed the good baked layer. I give this a 2/5. I regretted having this.
Post this we had Mango torte. This looked very promising. However as soon as we bit into it we realized that good looks were not a precursor to good taste. The taste was uni-directionally sweet – there wasn’t any tart effect / other balancing effect. The cheese part of the cake had overtly high density & hence that made it difficult to push the food from the tongue to the food pipe. The gelatin used to get a shine to the cake was pretty disturbing too. I found it to be just OK & hence rate it 2.5/5.
In short, if I wud have walked just across the walkway to L’Opera, I wud have done a lot more justice to my tastebuds. No comparison of the baked stuff & cakes at Starbucks to those at L’Opera – way way better.
We ordered a cappuccino – it was thin, lacked strength & flavors – certainly nowhere near a good cup of cappuccino that I recently had at ‘The Bakery, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai’. If someone argues ‘Hyatt charges more’, my answer wud be – Hyatt is not a coffee specialist but the Barista took a lot of care to make a good refreshing memorable cup of coffee. I give the cappuccino a 2/5.
I was also wondering why in a sit-in format we were being served coffee in paper cups? It surely feels much better to sip a cup of coffee from porcelain. If look & feel cud have been Indianized, why not this?
We also had hot chocolate. It was very good – somewhat thick, robust , perfectly sweetened & tasty. If 70% Cocoa Hot Chocolate at Choco La is 4.75/5, the one at Starbucks is at most 3.75/5.
Few hours later we dropped by to pick up a ice shaken cold hibiscus tea. That was superb – refreshing, a bit tangy, a bit of sweet, flavorful & just too good. I wud give this a 4.25/5.
Overall the rating for food & beverages at starbucks adds up to 3.2/5
I wud revisit only to fill my stomach when I am hungry in Saket. I wud not plan to eat here & drive from home. What r u likely to do? Write in………………