Even the exterior of The Chatterhouse will tell you that you are going to enter a place where it’s going to be woody and cosy. And we had caught the ambience correct—it is woody, cosy, a place to spend time with friends, associates and chatter and drink to your heart’s content. THN team had decided to check it out as an informal sit-n-discuss place for our weekly meeting and we were not disappointed with the service, the friendly treatment and the lighting, the mood for a place to spend time at ease.
We wanted to hang around and enjoy the world of Scottish countryside, or was it Wales or England. It was like a Henry Fielding or Jane Austen novel coming to life for me. Before I could comment that I felt like I was in an English country inn, the founder and CEO Swadeep Popli said “we call it the gastro-pub”. For most places to eat out, focus is on the food alone, but Popli wanted to create a place where people could sit for hours and chat and chat. “Traditionally pubs in England have been community places and that is the story around The Chatterhouse,” explains the architect and interior designer Radhika Ahuja.
The duo travelled around Europe to get a feel of the countryside and inns and pubs before opening one in Delhi’s Epicuria. With the Nehru Place metro station above, there have been constraints but the angled ceiling and brick walls won’t tell you those stories. “I designed the ceiling keeping in mind an 11th century vault in a church,” says Radhika.
The Chatterhouse is also a place to have meals meant to be shared, comfort and please the palette. So for starters we decided to try out Warm Profiteroles “caprese” filled with tomato salsa and mozzarella, dusted with onion rings. And this was served with balsam vinegar and olive oil. Well, the cheese melted in our mouths as we continued the chatter. For drinks, we had Mango Julius, Blue Angel and Amrood Chaat.
As the music of the eras long gone–1960s-70s-80s—played in the background; we continued our conversation about food, drinks, inns and pubs. “We have something called a CAR concept,” explains Popli. “C is comfort, A is aspiration and R is regional. So the menu has been designed keeping in mind these three. There are pizzas, burgers, tenderloins, Goan curries… all in one place. Also, we wanted people to relax and enjoy their time after work or even while they are taking a break for lunch. Alcoholic drinks, for instance beer, have been reasonably priced. Even the best Scotch will be available at nominal prices. People should feel at ease.”
Keeping in mind the sharing and community concept, the pub is a platter place. Says Chef Honey Abhrol, “We didn’t want people to feel the burden of ordering too may things, so a platter has different varieties of food and good portions.”
The high standards in quality and cleanliness were visible all around. The wood-fired pizza oven outside has been made as per environment-friendly norms. The area outside has ornate chairs and tables and squirrels stand guard over the guests! It’s a small enchanted café. And a lovely place to have your lunch in winter.
Even the breads are made in-house, we were informed. For the main course we tried the Chatterhouse Vegetarian platter which comprised house-made labne, with fresh basil and tomatoes, hummus, babaghanoush, and muhamarra with garlic-brushed soft and toasted pita bread, fita-stuffed crispy mushrooms, and paneer tikka with mini tandoori rotis and a dipping bowl of raita.
The Chatterhouse non-vegetarian platter had yum Shish tauok skewer, hoummous with garlic-brushed soft and toasted pita bread, honey-mustard glazed chicken wings with a cheese dip, beer batter fish strips with tarter sauce and mutton boti kebab with mini tandoori roti and a dipping bowl of raita.
As the food was a lot for three of us, we wanted to go easy on the dessert but sweets are not-to-be-missed. And again we ended up with a lot more than we could eat.
Desserts were Gooey Chocolate Cake with Coffee ice cream and Chatterhouse Special Dessert Nachos: Chocolate Chip cookies, brownie bits, toasted marshmallows, smarties, vanilla ice cream, dark chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The Chatterhouse Special is certainly for at least five people, so be warned in advance.
The future is to keep adding and changing the menus, customising dishes if possible to keep the guest happy and open another five or six outlets in the next two years.
True to the promise of creating nostalgia, it has been quite a while since we visited The Chatterhouse, and it would be definitely a place I would like to go again during the coming party season.
Address: The Chatter House, Epicuria, Nehru Place, New Delhi
Tel: 011-26237777/ 011- 26238888
Average Price for two: INR 750 /- plus taxes (without alcohol)
Timings: 11:30 am to 1:00 am
Review by Ambica Gulati