Dudefood, Satya Niketan – A review by Varun Chaudhary

It was a few days ago I read a user rant about how the FED days were so good and now its all commercial, well not for anything else – I thank him for this blog’s inspiration. For all wondering, how – I joined the FB group FED randomly, went for a food raid at American Diner – met a few people (most of them are on my FB friends list now) and have also contributed through some blogs and occasional posts. So to revive the FED goodness, and to salute the spirit – Happyness is Eatlo. I decided what better way than to revisit the past habits and write a blog J
Okay, enough of history rambling.  Now to present rambling, one of my colleagues – who is excellent cook and who lives for food – as most of us, Eatlo members – told me about this new place at Satyaniketan. Then after reading some reviews, I got inspired enough to visit Satyaniketan, particularly for DUDEFOOD.
Dude food from outside
Once a nondescript market, Satyaniketan, has now seen a metamorphosis of sorts.  My last visit to this market was when someone took me to a joint bang opposite Sri Venkateswara College – operating from a mezzanine floor of a PG(paying guest accommodation) serving 20 types of Maggie noodles variations. From what I ate then, left such an impression that it took me almost five years to visit this area again.
Me and the life-partner in crime (my wife) went to DudeFood for the second time in two weeks.  The first time around it was a quick visit and we were fairly full from the tandoori momos we ate at QDs – which were the most pathetic food item I’ve eaten in a while.  Truly bad, and I don’t say bad for food so easily. First bad part, they were cold – like the first batch of pre-steamed and not steamed before serving cold. Second, the chicken momos filling was not of chicken but soya – you need not be a genius to tell the difference and the icing on the cake (here momos) the tandoori paste on top is nothing but orange color with a hint of ajwain flavoring and some salt.
Nachos
Moving on to the agenda of the visit – DudeFood, what is this place all about  – big serving sizes teamed with decent pricing. Sample this, where in South Delhi can you get a quarter plate sized mountain of freshly fried corn tortillas topped with layers of mozzarella cheese, some liquid cheese, boiled kidney beans (rajma not tomato sauce breakfast variety), onions, tomatoes, capsicum and some mild sauces for hold your… lets say pockets… Rs75, total after Sarkaar’s kharcha paani – Rs88.59. Not impressed yet, okay, lets add chicken chunks too for … Rs10 (Rs11.81), and note the fact on freshly fried nachos. The chips taste very similar to the pakwaan of dal pakwaan in Sindhi food.  And yes, do ask for the salsa sauce, our server forgot this and got it just in time before we polished off the entire lot.
Along with the awesome pricing, the place is done up very well. A break from the classic movie posters or feedback sticky notes – the walls feature funny art and a big wooden bike (decorative size big, not drivable size) adoring the wall as you enter through the sliding door (be careful if the door is shut, do not try to pull it in or out). The single wire for each hanging bulbs and the almost reflective mirror with partial view of the kitchen and yes the BIG factor (especially for this market) – they have a restroom. Apparently, there are not many places with restrooms – infact we were told only PHD (Pizza Hut delivery) is the only other pee or poo option. Another interesting fact, the whole market area is a free parking zone – unless the traffic cops otherwise instruct (this does happen on some odd days).
The wall
The roof
Okay, what else made the cut for DudeFood – Vietnamese french fries, as cosmopolitan and international the dish may sound it’s a simple yet good version of french fries topped with cheese.  DudeFood has a variety of cheesy fries, the Vietnamese version was recommended by our server.  It was topped with spicy chilli mayo sauce and cheese, and yet again the quantity was impressive. It tasted fine for the first few pickings, but it got cold very soon and oil taste started dominating.  So a word of caution – ask the server to make sure they make a fresh batch of french fries or make sure they are hot enough for the best taste till the end.  The pricing for most of these variations are again very decent, Rs125 – with chicken chunks Rs145.
Vietnamese French Fries
DudeFood also has a long list of sandwiches, almost two pages of vegetarian and non-vegetarian listings. You can choose your bed, I mean bread type from jumbo white / jumbo brown / baguette (the footlong type) / pita (the kulcha type). I choose one of the cheapest and simplest version, chicken & mayo sandwich. If you like your sandwich grilled (I do) then that comes for an extra cost of Rs15.
Four fairly decent sized double breaded pieces arrived with some cheesy dip. For the price I paid for the sandwich, it was good. Taste – not the best, not the worst ever eaten. I guess the over usage of mayo killed it a bit. But yes, for a student – whose metabolism is faster than Shatabdi and loves extra of everything – this will hit the spot on any given day for the after lecture treat. How much you guessing (since I said cheapest) Rs65+ Rs15.
Moving to sort of mains, yes we were still hanging around ‘hors d’oeuvres’ – bhai matlab, snacks J
We ordered a Mama Rossa pasta and Dude lamb burger, on the recommendation of our smiley server. He was also recommending a Dark Knight burger, which is a BLACK burger. Now that would intrigue anyone, so on asking we were (not) told why its black – ‘its our secret’ was the reply.  The classified info remained intact.
Pasta (Rs125), penne with mixed sauce (red& white walon ki baat hi kuchh aur hoti hai – if you understood this, then you were definitely watching TV in the early 90s) version with added chicken (Rs50). Now two things here, one I’m spoilt by Big Chill, Kafiaa and similar pasta kitchens which hooked the punjabee in me to the gravier pastas and second my heart breaks when I see just one garlic bread piece along with a plate full of pasta. But here couldn’t complain much, for the money charged one slice was justified (kahin toh cost cutting karengey na, boss).
Mama Rossa Pasta
Now, the pasta was not fully boiled and hence was very chewy so was the chicken – which was neither grilled, smoked or roasted. With pasta and chicken being flavourless items in themselves and then without being tossed in the sauces for the goodness to soak in – Elvis left the building – in this case, killed the goodness of the mix of sauces, which by itself was good to dunk in the single garlic toast.
Now for the ‘claimed’ pièce de résistance, dude lamb burger. Okay, imagine two fairly soft buns packed with two big a$$ sized lamb patties, smoked bacon, fried egg, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and cheese – this will make anyone drool. Well for this one, stop the imagination just at that moment.  Why?
Well, the patties otherwise nice and flavorsome but sadly were done ‘rare’.  And one bite, I knew something has gone wrong. I ate one half of the burger (they cut it into two pieces and add a big toothpick, which is a blessing from messing it up) and couldn’t go further. 
Dude Lamb Burger
The server noticed it, and asked if I didn’t like it, and I told him that the patty was not well done and he offered to change. Here I told him since I’ve eaten half, its not fair but I requested him if he can just put it on the griddle for a minute – hoping it will help.  Sadly, it didn’t.  So, I chose the saving grace option, opened the burger, peeled the bacon strip with some cheese and devoured it. That was a good feeling to end the meal with. The burger also came with wedges, which were A+ class – I even suspected a hint of cinnamon on those.  They can be ordered as an extra side on any given day – that good.
Then I wondered, what could be the reason for something I read such good reviews about, turning out to be so wrong. Was it because I choose mine without fried egg? or Was it because it was a Monday (Delhi restaurants and cafes are usually very low on business on Mondays – notice it, next time)? or was it because we were the only ones present then? So after all the permutations and combinations I concluded on this:
DudeFood is eager to serve, now that is a good thing on service standards.  But to keep with pace I believe they keep the food half done before – so it gets dry or chewy – or they simply have been told by the owners to whip it fast – like factory line fast: one burger = one minute, else no beers n bitches for tonight J
The beverages, again there is a long list to choose – from smoothies, shakes, cold coffees, iced teas, hot  beverages and even flavoured lassis.  We played safe here with fresh lime soda and mint mojito. Good!  A bit sweet, but again – perfect for the days when I was sweating it out at the basketball courts of my college – ahhhhhhhh, those were the days of guilt-free gluttony.   
We were done enough with no space for desserts. But they were tempting enough, particular intriguing were fried mars chocolate bar and another one was ice cream with caramalised bacon strips.  I’m the kind who would make a face at the mention of meat as sweet, but then I will go back for this one – definitely.
Like I just said, yes – I will go back. Even after a mixed bag, this place deserves a visit on the sheer benefit of the 16+ page menu, so there is still lots to go before the towel can be thrown in and for the fact that after so much stuffing we still walked out with a bill under 750. Please note, the chicken sandwich and the cheesy fries not part of this bill – those are from our previous visit.

Bill 
We headed out with a smile and thank you, received a Big smile and a loud thank you in return. 
On our way home, stopped by at the newly opened Starbucks store at Lajpat Nagar – right next to Big Apple (I find Big Apple as a name for a grocery store cum veggie market – very funny). This Starbucks outlet is a big one with two floors and has ‘free’ international coffee tasting sessions J. The store also deserves a special mention for the paintings on the walls – superb! 
Written by Varun Chaudhary

Kulcha King’s Amritsari Kulcha – not for my platter

Amritsari Kulcha. A puzzle that can only be solved with my visit to Amritsar and eating atleast at 2-3 better known places. People who are in know of food, complain that Delhi does not have any place which comes even close to the stuff they serve in Amritsar.

However that does not stop the Food Enthusiasts from exploring whatever is available and one name that popped up few months back was Kulcha King, at Ring Road Market in Sarojini Nagar. I went there on an EOiD outing few months back, and at that time the decision seems unanimous, that regardless of the crowds he gets, we were not much fond of Kulcha King’s Kulchas.

 On one of the rainy days past week, I was riding by the area, and hunger pangs literally forced me to to pay another visit to this outlet. Though I remember not loving the place first time around, however I do not recall me hating it as well. So thought another shot would is well deserved.

Masala Kulcha

Its looks like lot of spice, but it does not do much to taste.
Chhole and Chutney waale Pyaz
Boondi Raita at Rs. 10 per serving

I had a Masala Kulcha to start with, normal Aloo Kulcha, with a mix of spices sprinkled on in, and then a Paneer Kulcha. On being asked, the owner didn’t seem to have an answer, but just kept repeating it was Garam Masala. It was served with chhole and finely chopped onions in imli chutney. However like the first time round, I found the chhole to be too bland for my taste. Kulchas were well made, however lack of flavor in Chhole did disappoint me a bit.

Paneer Kulcha

Paneer Kulcha was actually very well done.
The simple menu

As mentioned earlier, I am not sure how they serve it in Amritsar, but I surely hope this is not the way it is done, if it is, then I don’t think I would ever appreciate it.

The Brick House Diner – The new Big Boy of Burger scene in Delhi

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.

It has been a natural inclination of us FEDs to visit or raid outlets which have an established name including some valued treasures which have reached a legendary status in the food scene and their claims and reputation can never be questioned by any critic or enthusiast. But this time we found ourselves in the mood for some questioning. We thought, with so many new and exciting places springing up around town, why not try and see what they have brought to the party. After-all, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it, right?

We decided to venture out of our comfort zone and carry out a raid on a brand new and un-heard of place without any expectations what-so-ever. So, our little experiment led us to “The Brick House Diner”. 

This is what you call a burger in all its glory, The Ghost

Since this is a new place, not many had heard of it, and there was just a little if any information available online about it, but their claim of making the “Best Burgers in Delhi” tempted us foodies to go ahead and find out whether their declaration holds any water and how their food appeals to the palate of the FEDs.

 This place is in Satya Niketan and just in the beginning of the little market opposite Venky, look to your left for their neon sign when you take a left turn from Ring Road after Moti Bagh Gurudwara.
The FEDs
Whenever the FED group gets together, the fun- friendly “college canteen-ish” atmosphere is instantly created and this time was no different. We worked our way through the menu which is vast and very expansive. I was a little put-off and confused to see items like Aloo Pranthas and Egg Bhurji on offer. I do love my pranthas but I wouldn’t head to a diner if I ever have a craving for them.

For starters we decided we’ll trust the owner Bhuvnesh, and he got us a sample of a few of his Tapas grilled items. The non-vegetarians had more options to sample but sadly the vegetarian choice was neither varied nor very exciting. We tried the Shrimp, Lamb, Chicken, Pork and Buff. Each of them had a different and distinct marination but the one that stood out for me was the Pork with the Buff being second. The shrimp was passable but the Lamb and the Chicken was avoidable.

The Shrimp Tapas
Pork Tapas
Buff on Skewer
Lamb Tapas
Chicken Tapas
Along-with the starters we sampled two drinks, The Cafe Frappe which is essentially the machine vended Nescafe Frappe with a few additions to make it stronger and less sweet and it was not bad actually. The other was a Litchi flavored Iced Tea which was again alright but the fun part was a nice little “litchi-jello” shot inside the drink which many of us confused for an ice cube. What I observed is that none of us ordered the drinks again with our food and instead preferred the regular soft-drinks, so nothing extra-ordinary in the drinks space. Perhaps some interesting milkshakes would do the trick. 

It was time now to get down to business and do what we were there for, Take on the burgers. 

Once again, there was not much choice available for the vegetarians, and I had started kind of feeling bad for them. But that was only until I was served with “The Ghost”, that’s what they call their biggest burger. It’s this monstrous thing loaded with three large lamb patties, cheese, sautéed mushrooms, a fried egg, fresh lettuce, caramelized onions and, as if that wouldn’t choke an artery, I asked for some extra bacon strips to be put on it as well. The things that we have to do….phew..

After getting over the sheer size of the thing, we figured out the best way to tackle it. Opening your mouth wide enough to get the whole thing in is impossible, but how much ever I did was absolutely wonderful. Their meat patties are fresh and so are the other ingredients. All four of us who opted for this burger were glad that we did. Their patties are not at all greasy and they definitely have got this one right. It got all the marks in my book.
The Ghost
Interestingly, the owner informed us that they are coming up with a Man vs. Food type “The Ghost Challenge” wherein if anyone can finish (get this..) 5 of these burgers within 45 minutes he gets to have his (or her) picture put up on their “Wall of Fame” and the meal is free of charge (not calories) but if, by any chance, you happen to be human and you cannot finish that much food, your picture is put up on the “Wall of Shame” and you have to cough up the money. Feel free to take them up on it.
Another lamb burger that deserves mention is the Baconator which had a single lamb patty and a few strips of bacon plus the other regular toppings. After-all, you can never go wrong with bacon right?

The other non-vegetarians amongst us who were averse to eating red meat naturally opted for the chicken burgers but I frankly didn’t see that much happiness on their faces as there was on the red meat eaters. One of them told me that the Classic Chicken burger was average at best.

Ghost against a regular Burger
Delightful French Fries
Not to be left behind, upon seeing the enormity of the ghost burger, the vegetarians requested a “Veg Ghost” which the owner very graciously attempted but sadly, as it was an impromptu request, it was not a very good one. In fact, they purposely took the Veg Ghost off the tab and insisted on not charging for it as it was not satisfactory. Shashank gave them some of his expert feedback and Bhuvnesh the owner took note and promised to re-work the thing from a scratch.

They do praise their pizzas, and they are different from what I’ve had anywhere as they make the dough with a unique mixture of regular pizza dough and the dough used in Kulcha’s. They are worth trying out and they have a wide variety of toppings on offer.

Veg Harvest Pizza
Pesto-licious Pizza
We tried their pastas and were not disappointed. The non-vegetarians all loved the Ala Carbonara Fettuccine as the plate was wiped off clean, they have got the cream reduction rather perfect on that one. The Spicy Chicken Sausage pasta made with penne and fusilli was also done right as was the Pasta Bolognaise with a marinara base and an interesting mix of seasoning.
Ala Carbonara Fettuccine
Spicy Sausage Pasta
I noticed a few other interesting items on their menu, like the 16oz Rib Eye Stake, which I would have tried but couldn’t because I was stuffed to capacity. 

Bhuvnesh the owner graciously gave us a complementary taste session of his passion fruit puddings in 4-5 different flavors. They were very light and refreshing and were like a healthy alternative to cheesecakes. All of us unanimously voted for the Litchi one as our favorite.

Passion Fruit Puddings
What they have got bang on target is their pricing. Their prices are modest and definitely fall in the Value for Money category. Their biggest burger The Ghost is priced at a modest Rs 300 with the others ranging from Rs 60 to 150. The pastas range is from Rs100 to 200 and the quality that you get is no less than what you get in some of the other snooty high priced restaurants. 
Happy faces with Chef and Owner Bhuvnesh
The fact that stands out most in our experience is the fun that we all had in sampling the different dishes. It is a nice place for a big group of friends to just gather together and have a good laugh. The thing most appreciable is the willingness of the owner to constantly get a feedback so he can go back and improve his food. Being new there are quite a few areas which need improvement and he sure seems up to the task.

The thing that will make me go back to the Brick House Diner is definitely the burger, but moreover it will be the laid-back non-commercial unpretentiousness of the place.

I would rate the Brick House Diner a 3 out of 5 with a strong potential to improve further.

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.

My First Food Raid – The Brick House Diner – A Vegetarian’s Perspective

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.
 
So today was the day when I went for my first “FED raid” as they call it. It was so frickin’ brilliant. Bunch of foodies gathering together, literally ordering everything possible from the menu. As I was going to visit this place, I was reminded of the episode from How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall waits 8 years to eat the best burger in New York.

And as today I was coming back from the “raid”, my sister’s first reaction after coming near me was that I smell of food. So mission accomplished.

A yummy non veggie burger, look at the cheese dripping out. Yumm !
So we all, as decided, went to a place called The Brick House Diner, located right in front of Venky (the college). The best part about the “Diner” is its location. As soon as you turn left towards Venky, you can spot the shiny neon sign.

The interiors are, as the name suggests, made of brick, although the space is short for large gatherings. It is a comforting, non formal setting and that is what works I guess when you open a diner opposite a college.

The Raiding Party, waiting patiently for their food to arrive
The Raid Party, from another angle

So I heard that the place was famous for its burgers. There are very few places in Delhi which serve good burgers and that too vegetarian ones (and no I am not including Mc Donald’s in the list, for the love of god people, come on). There has been Hard Rock, American Diner and News Cafe. The last one i haven’t been to, but have heard a lot. Burgers have always been a non veggie paradise and I still have yet to come in contact with the best burger in Delhi. The best vegetarian burger!!!

The litchi ice tea. The transparent thing is the litchi Jello-O, superb
So it started out quite differently than usual with 2 drinks coming our way. The first one being a frappe and the second one was a litchi ice tea. The frappe tasted like any other nescafe frappe and it wasn’t until my friend pointed out that it was sweeter and chocolaty than normal frappe. I am not much of a coffee person and frankly couldn’t make out much. But the litchi ice tea was quite a surprise. It was regular ice tea with a hint of litchi. Pretty good but the surprise was a litchi jelly masquerading as an ice cube. For the longest time, I was wondering that why wasn’t the ice cube melting. Very clever and innovative. This has potential to be a sure hit with the campus crowd.
Finally starters for the vegetarians, one in green color, the other in brown
Some non veggie starter, looks fantastic.
Again something for Non-vegetarians
Shrimp Tapsa, the non veggies couldn’t stop eating and we couldn’t stop looking and get jealous

For starters, there was a tapas platter containing two veggie skewers. One green in color and the other brown. The green one had peanuts and peas and I couldn’t make out about the other one. The former was definitely better than the brown one and overall made for quite a good start.

The Erstwhile Garden burger, ahem
The Non-Veg burger again (don’t know which one) in its full glory

After the drinks, came the main course. There were a million varieties for non veg burgers and only 2 for vegetarians. But the chief chef had cooked up a very special, experimental 3rd variety for the health conscious, calorie counting campus crowd, which is not on the menu. The chef was trying it out for the first time and was asking us for opinions about the same.

The experimental one was a garden burger, another one was a veggie’s delight and the third one was a beetroot and corn burger. We ordered one of each variety but sadly due to a mix up with the waiters, we got 4 garden burgers and one veggie delight.

Fresh and crispy French Fries – They did a great job with those

Now I am fundamentally and conceptually against healthy food. And I am generally not excited when anything is named after a salad. The garden burger was kinda dry and for the first time I was missing a tomato slice in it. (FYI I hate tomatoes). I have always wanted my burgers to be juicy and succulent and this sadly wasn’t. There was no cheese (gasp gasp). But still a decent effort and considering that it was made specially for the FED raid, it was very sweet of the chef. But here’s hoping that it never makes to the final menu .

The second burger, the veggie delight, was juicier and thankfully had cheese. However, I could not taste any of the garlic mayo as promised. The third burger never came but honestly would love to see what they do with beetroot in a burger.

Pestolicious Pizza, it really was pestolicious
Melt in your mouth Pizza filled with Cheese, Superb !

The pizza we ordered was a pesto based veggie pizza. Now too much of pesto can really screw up a pizza and make it bitter. But here the pesto was in moderation and unlike the usual tomato based pizzas which are oh-so-common. The best and I mean the best part is the base of the pizza. It is a secret recipe and is made by mixing two kinds of dough and what a dough that was. The base was soft and melt-in-your-mouth kinds. The veggies nicely cooked and the cheese strands literally filling your mouth coming together with the oh-so-soft pizza and perfectly cooked veggies. People were sniggering at my tendency to put mustard on it but hey I liked it better with the mustard.

The best part about the place is the pricing. It has its pricing spot on, aiming at the campus crowd. Burgers for Rs. 80 and pizzas for Rs. 150-170 something, this was a shock in these Rs. 500-700 ranged burgers available nowadays.

The big daddy of ’em all – The Ghost Burger, three layers of patty and you can see the half fried Egg in between
Chicken something Pasta – Looked heavenly
The pasta again, 2 seconds before it vanished from the plate
The non veggies on the other end of the table had huge grins on their faces as they gorged on the “Ghost” burger (3 layers of patties and a half fried egg (hmm??) in between) and chicken pasta and some such. The place clearly has more varieties for non veggies as most burger joints are. There was a vegetarian version of the Ghost burger too, which was prepared using the same ingredients as the Garden (erstwhile) burger. Loved the size of the burger (it was incredibly huge) but think will stay away from it as I wasn’t a big fan of the garden burger to begin with.
Laurel and Hardy

And the regret of my life, the greatest Pic of the GHOST Burger, the veg version

I am especially interested in their “Man v/s Food” contest where patrons have to eat 5 big ghost burgers in 1 hour. And it will have a wall of fame and a wall of shame too. And of course their jello shots which fellow FEDs got after I had left after eating my share and that too ON THE HOUSE (WHAT THE HELL!!!). They couldn’t stop talking about it too and then posted a pic to make me jealous.

The Jello shots, which fellow FEDs got on the FREAKIN’ HOUSE (daaammmnn !), they look divine and am sure tasted that way too

So vegetarians can go to this place for its comfortable, non intimidating surroundings and jelly filled ice teas and surprisingly soft pizzas. Not so much for the burgers though. For non veggies, well by the looks of my fellow feds, they’ll be back for sure for more burgers and pastas and what not.

Mouthful of the Ghost Burger
The FED responsible for it all, Harbeer, having time of his life.
Shubam and this pic needs no caption.. hehee
Me looking at the carnivores go at their burgers, SIGH !
A satisfied bunch, with Chef and Owner, Bhuvnesh

PS The awesome, mouth watering, makes-you-wanna-drool pics are provided by none other than the Chief FED – Shashank, we should probably name him something like “Captain” or “General” !

UPDATE – 26th January 2012 – The Brick House Diner is no longer in business.