Just last week someone asked us where they could take a ‘design’ friend for a nice meal. In case you missed it, a ‘design’ friend is someone who went to design school, is wired to pay attention to detail and wouldn’t just settle for good food. The same applies to aesthetes and or/ anyone who likes to keep abreast of trendy (and trending, as Zomato would have you believe) establishments. “Diva Spiced is cool.”
Diva Spiced, formerly Chez Nini, is Diva Kitsch reincarnated, except with a better, Meherchand Market location, (much) better décor and a more extensive menu. It’s no doubt they’ve made great use of the space, limiting wistful reminders of its previous occupant to the bare minimal (especially once Spiced’s ‘South Delhi-map’ table mats, marking all Diva properties, have caught your attention). Spread over two floors, the 70-cover all-day dining café bears all of the classic Diva accoutrements – large windows, lot’s of natural light, generous usage of metal and wood, and if you’re lucky (read: strategically seated) also nice-ish views. The vibe is as lively, Asia-influenced and refreshing as the food.
Food & Drink
Bomra’s Tomato Salad – We just love how the description reads ‘Fresh Tomatoes massaged with Sesame, Tamarind & Jaggery Dressing’. Bursting with flavor and resplendent on a banana leaf hexagon, this salad can host a salsa night (pun intended) on your palate. It’s good to see some things never change (this one’s been a favorite ever since its glamorous Diva Kitsch beginnings). The second, Tangy Prawn, Mango & Snow Pea not-so-salad, has the perfectly pink, sesame-speckled prawns (also) poised on a hexagonal banana leaf mat. Tossed in ripe mango and crunchy snow pea, and brushed with a luscious chipotle vinaigrette dressing, they each get a sizeable kick from Thai red chili and spring onion. Another, subtle, contender was the beetroot-candied hazelnut-guac salad, playing foil to its less creamy and far more intense counterparts.
We tasted practically every kind of crystal dumpling available, veg and non-vegetarian; ‘Root Vegetables with Chilli Oil’, ‘Pork Confit & Chilli’ and ‘Five Spice Beef’ came through with flying colors. We had the superb prawn tempura (light and immensely succulent) with a celery & garlic sauce, revisited the Panko Crusted Arancini (stuffed and thus, larger than we remembered it). We also sampled the Corn and Tofu Cakes with Garlic Relish & Mango Chutney (like a healthier alternative to aloo patty). And tried the Lepcha Special Chicken wrapped in Homemade Katifi, which had the familiarly fond notes of lemongrass but the chicken itself was a tad tough.
‘And Everything Else’
Diva Spiced’s ‘And Everything Else’ or mains section gets our full marks – the selection is varied and highly innovative, not to mention, everything we tried was top notch. Young Papaya Curry – served with rice noodles, adequately spiced, sweet and sour; Chili Caramel Fillet of Sole – nutty, citrusy, on a crunchy bed of wok-fried greens, superlative; Maple & Chili Pork Ribs – melt-in-the-mouth. With dessert, our meal came full circle. We sampled portions of their flourless chocolate cake, Spiced Mess – Lemon Grass Meringue with Mascarpone Cream and Berry Compote (their take on the traditional English Eton Mess) and the winning, Salted Caramel Tart.
Recommendations and Verdict
Diva Spiced’s general sweet-tart palate gets our approval for appearing consistently, yet every time in a new avatar. Go here and start by ordering salads and one of their fresh juices or better still, their delicious Passionfruit & Mango Smoothie to go with (they await an alcohol license). Next, make your way through a dumpling basket or two, or simply skip to main course; remember you have to save room for dessert. Will we go back? Totally, and not just because we have yet to try the Noodle & Rice Bar.
Address: 79-80, Meharchand Market (Ground & First Floor)
Contact no: 011 49051837
Timing: 11:00am- 11:30pm