Serving a range of inventive Indian dishes in not so bite-sized portions, Punjab Grill Tappa is an attempt by the brand to go contemporary in its approach. From modern interiors to food that is as unique in taste as it is to look at, there is a lot to be explored and enjoyed at the restaurant.
It’s not often that chefs can rebrand and innovate Indian foods. Gaggan did that in Bangkok, and now he has the best restaurant in all of Asia. Locally though, there are attempts now and then to be different, but more often than not, they fail.
Zorawar Kalra led Farzi Café is one of the success stories, and I do love how they play with food over there, even though their service lacks the professionalism that one would expect.
However, the entire molecular gastronomy craze has reached its peak, and even the chefs who were once greatly influenced by Ferran Adrià are desperate to create their own identity.
When it comes to reinventing Punjabi food, the weight on the shoulders of the chef is likely to be tenfold. So, while I went into Tappa thinking it would be more show and less tell, it turned out to be nothing short of a revelation.
The menu at the restaurant is a warm mixture of contemporary Indian with a Punjabi touch. The liveliness, often associated with everything Punjabi, is evident in the descriptions and name of every dish. I was still sceptical after reading the menu, knowing that often what is promised it a lot different from the final plate — and thinking that in all probability they have followed Farzi Café and gone to the other extreme where I’ll end up with molecular gastronomic versions of Indian classics. Thankfully, I was wrong.
The dishes are experimental in terms of ingredients and flavours. The presentations range from the mundane – butter chicken in a bowl – to what I call the dump – where a bunch of elements get dumped on top of bread like in the case of Soya Ghee Roast Methi Thepla. And yes, there are definite hipster vibes thrown in for good measure as seen from combinations like asparagus and cauliflower in their choori kutti.
Tappa manages to create an ambience that compliments the food. There is a stylish look that doubles up nicely as a place to have a few drinks with friends. They do various promotions and exclusive cocktails, but I’ve never been one to be lured by the high that alcohol gives.
Food is my drug, and fancy names and ingredients perk my interest regularly. Tappa presents its menu in the form of “small plates” and “large plates”. I hate this concept. Call me old-fashioned, but listing dishes as “starters” and “mains” will do just fine. Still, this is the Millennial generation, and one must give them a fair share of freedom to play around. If listing their food under “small” and “large” is what floats their boat, then be it.
Getting back to the food, it is remarkable. It is Punjabi food at heart so expect a lot of spices, moderate amounts of chillies, and a feeling that you can’t have another bite for the whole week by the time you are ready to leave.
Among my favourites was the Dahi Kebab, the softest I’ve ever had. The Butter Chicken was tender, slightly charred, and came in a tick and creamy gravy. Both of these, as well as the Paneer Makhani and Dal, were under the “Classic” section of the menu. So, there is something for all tastes and likes.
As for bread, the Palak Chur Chur Naan was a delight. Initially, it had raisins in it, but I asked for one without them. The naan is somewhat like a paplak parantha but packed with bold flavours.
Looking for some fashionable and unusual items, the Choori Kurti – Crumbled Bread topped with Asparagus and Cauliflower – was a meal in itself. In simple terms, it is a laccha parantha with veggies. But thanks to the finger-licking sauce that came with it and overall wonderful flavours it turned out to be phenomenal and the dish-of-the-dinner for me.
Punjab Grill Tappa is on the expensive side. Their small plates tend to pinch a little more. Still, the food is delicious, the service friendly, the atmosphere is fun, and thus, paying a little extra doesn’t hurt all that much in the end.
Punjab Grill Tappa