Cuisine: Contemporary Latin/World Cuisine
Approximate Price for two: Rs. 3000 after tax (including 2 Indian Beers)
Address: Hauz Khas Village, In the lane behind Cafe D’or
Summary: Small restaurant with a lot of heart and home to some of Delhi’s best burgers and desserts
Hauz Khas Village is quickly becoming THE dining destination of South Delhi. There are a lot of options, not just in cuisine and price but also in terms of scale. For example, while Out of the Box has seating for over 100 people, there are tiny places with barely enough seating for 20. The last restaurant I reviewed, Lah, was one of these places.
The USP of these places is simple. Good food, honest prices and personal interaction with the owner who often plays the role of head chef as well. When you eat at these places, the owners will proudly greet you at the door, escort you to your table, recommend the right dishes to eat and chat with you while you wait for your food.
Cafe 2 2 Tango is one such place with 18 covers in a small alley way in Hauz Khas Village (HKV). I’ll be honest, unlike the more commercial places in HKV, this place is difficult to find as there are no visible signs pointing you in the right direction. Once you get there, you might not realize that you are in a restaurant because it’s basically one room with about 4-5 tables. It’s only open for dinner and it’s shut on Tuesdays.
So really, what’s the big deal about this place and why have we reviewed it? Simple. Bhuvnesh Khanna, the owner/head chef/head waiter/head accountant/cashier/marketing head/one man army is someone who gave up a lucrative career in hospitality to pursue his passion for a restaurant. He’s more than willing to tell you about his successes and failures and honestly, it’s all part of the experience. The food is something that I was unable to compartmentalize into any one category. You get everything from Nachos and Tapas to crazy beef burgers and cheesecakes. If you ask Bhuvnesh, he’ll tell you that his food is contemporary Latin but in my humble opinion, the menu is too wonderfully global to belong to any one country or cuisine.
The menus at the restaurant are changed as per the season. Bhuvnesh explained that each dish is created to pair with the season. Currently, on the summer menu, starters are labelled ‘Tapas’ which I didn’t understand. I ordered the 24 hour Sous Vide Chilean baby back ribs which costs Rs. 350 (plus taxes).
When I ordered it, I thought that because it was under the head of ‘Tapas’ it would be a really tiny portion which I would polish off in a bite. Let me tell you there were 3 big ribs on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes along with gravy. Most people would be happy to eat that
as a main course! In terms of plating and presentation, this dish would rival almost any five star hotel. In terms of flavour, while I can’t trace it to any one cuisine, I will say this… I usually never order ribs in Delhi because most restaurants serve you a bone with only fat on it which tastes disgusting. At Cafe 2 2 Tango, it’s another story altogether. The slow cooking had melted off all the fat and all that was left was deliciously moist pork meat. I will be going back to order the pork ribs again.
For main course we ordered the Pressure Cooker Lamb Shank served with polenta and gravy (Rs 675 plus taxes) as well as the Beef Burger (Rs 500 plus taxes). The lamb shank didn’t need a knife. I tried picking it up with my hands to eat off the bone and all the meat just fell off. A breathtaking sight! You can tell that Bhuvnesh has a bit of an obsession with high quality raw material and slow cooking. The combination is just divine.
The biggest sellers at this restaurant, despite the very crafty dishes on the menu, are the burgers. Cafe 2 2 Tango is perhaps the only place in Delhi to source beef from Bangalore. No Buff, only beef! The burgers are beautifully juicy and laced with the right amount of caramelized onions, mushrooms, Philadelphia cheese and lean bacon. I think the lean bacon is the clincher. Most places including Hard Rock Cafe use streaky bacon which feels like rubber in your mouth. Lean bacon is more
expensive, less fatty and can be eaten whole without worrying about the rind. The burger was easily one of the best I’ve had in Delhi. My only comment is that the bread had trouble dealing with the volume of the meat because believe me; these guys are generous with their portions!
While we ordered the regular burger, there is something available for people with a death wish. Bhuvnesh calls it ‘the Ghost’ (Rs. 750 plus taxes).
The explanation is that you will probably have a heart attack by the end of it and end up haunting the cafe as a ghost. This burger is 3 beef patties (8 ounces each), Philadelphia Cheese, lean bacon, no extra bread, mushrooms and caramelized onions. I swear on the holy cow that I have never seen a more beautiful burger in Delhi! While I didn’t order, another table did and they were kind enough to let me take a picture.
Now for the ultimate shocker! Something I had not prepared for; there are two desserts on the menu. Normally, this is a bad sign. Most places will throw in a cheesecake or apple pie just for the heck of it to cater to lazy guests who would rather take their chances with an average dessert than make a trip to the nearest big chill.
So, in the interests of gluttony, I ordered both their desserts: a double chocolate mousse cake laced with a huge amount of bailey’s and a cheesecake with peanut butter and caramel!
I can honestly tell you that despite being a meat eater, the highlight of the meal for me was dessert (each dessert costs Rs. 350 plus taxes). Both desserts not only taste amazing but look like they are too beautiful to be eaten! The chocolate mousse cake had amazing layers to it. When you take your spoon through it, you feel the cake getting denser as your spoon goes down. The cheesecake just melts with a strong finish of peanut butter that stays in your mouth for hours. The portions were huge and flavours were great. Being a big eater himself, Bhuvnesh has made sure that co-gluttons such as myself will never leave his restaurant feeling underfed.
So how much does this experience cost? A non-veg starter, 2 main course dishes, 2 desserts and 2 beers would cost upward of Rs. 3000 after tax. You would end up paying the same price for a crap meal in a fancy place or even an evening out at a pub in Khan Market. Neither would be an experience to remember. Cafe 2 2 Tango is one of those places that you will remember because of 3 things : (1) It’s the creation of a well travelled foodie who likes to eat as much as he likes to cook (2) The focus on high quality raw material is evident in every bite (3) The experience of eating in a tiny restaurant with a personalized experience is rare and memorable.
Long story short, I loved everything about it and I will definitely go back when I feel like getting fatter!