Right off the bat, I have to tell y'all that I have never seen something like The Living Room Cafe and Kitchen in any other country I've visited or lived in my entire life. To qualify, I have either visited or lived in Tokyo, New York (and many more in USA), London (and many more in UK), Prague, Florence, Rome, Venice, Paris, Montreal, Ottawa, all Tier-1 and most Tier-2 Indian cities.
TLR Cafe, as it is popularly known, captures the quintessential spirit of an indie bohemian grungy bar in Lower East Side/Alphabet City/East Village, downtown New York and mixes it up with the Comedy Club open mic set up of Greenwich Village, downtown New York, throws in a European cafe style fine dining experience with a moderately priced American/Asian/International cuisine food menu and tops it off with an open terrace/rooftop Delhi house party scene.
The Living Room is truly Delhi's living room. I would love to do a survey and test my belief that patrons at TLR are not more than three degrees of separation away from each other. When you visit on an 'event night', you will know at least a quarter of the crowd already and meet another quarter through common friends. The crowd is well heeled, sophisticated, urbane, expatriate and nationals, seemingly left leaning, mix of Artists/Theatrepersons/Musicians/Private Sector/NGO/International Development/Academic/Students/Media/Unemployed. In other words, the truly hip youngish crowd of Delhi NCR. Who knows where they've sprung from but thank the lord they did and cheers to TLR for springing them!
So what are these 'event nights' of which I speak? These are commonly gatherings of like-minded people around some NGO or issue on weekend nights, such as climate change last Friday, May 29. The programme includes such delights as poetry recitation, extempore rapping, subject matter rapping (we've got to save the world, yeah yeah!), amateur band jamming, DJ spinning tracks, spontaneous dancing and all in all excellent chilling.
Another organised night is the monthly Medicine Show presented by Stiff Kittens. It is a variety show of 7-10 acts, comprising burlesque, theatre, comedy, rapping, operatic singing, and jamming usually on the first Sunday of the month, with additional performances on the first Saturday as per demand.
So much to say and I haven't even got down to the food or service yet.
The service was polite and efficient even through the chaos of the Medicine Show last night. We thought the chicken burgers (approx. Rs.375 with tax and 10% S.C.), were OK, the aloo bites (Rs.225) and stuffed chicken (Rs.400 plus tax and tip) were good but not great. The Royale salad was just OK (Rs.225) as was the highly anticipated Emperor Tofu (Rs.350). The classic Vegetarian Bruschetta was yummy but clearly inferior to the fantastic grilled tomato based aubergine dish. The Penne was superior to the Ragu Spaghetti.
We felt the servers would have done well to promote the European (Belgian etc.) ales over the Tiger, Fosters brigade. The Cosmopolitan was quite poor.
The owner, Gautam, looks like a cool dude. But then, anyone who could create TLR would have to be. Hurry. Go to TLR before it is murdered by its own success.