21 August 2014

Restaurant Review : Social Offline, Hauz Khas Village

Nothing about the location, nothing about the marketing. Who doesn't know about Social Offline in Delhi now? The most talked-about place, the place which has the maximum hype around it, the place that is famous for all the right reasons.

A restaurant that is spread across 2 floors, the place is just huge! Considering how big the place is, it is still always packed; always packed and always flooding with people on the waitlist. It's like the place is giving them food for free!

Social Offline has a very rugged and raw look. The unfinished look is mainly because of the brickwork on the walls, and because of the wooden tables and folding chairs that they have. In addition to this, they also have cushioned chairs and sofas that offer you a more comfortable seating. During the day, the first floor is devoted only to people who are looking for a place to work out of. This place houses freelance workers, artists, start-up professionals, and just about anyone you can think of who may not have an office space and chooses to work out of cafes and restaurants with wi-fi. On a very nominal charge paid by the people, Social Offline provides them their own work space here. Stationery that can be provided on request, wi-fi that is the sole necessity for their work, coffees and chais at their disposal(on an extra charge, of course), the place provides both convenience and comfort to these people. In the evening, the entire place turns into a club. Artist performances, nice music, dim lights and your night is set. With the option of both indoor and outdoor seating, you can choose your preference based on the weather and your mood. 

I've been to Social Offline multiple times now, and there is absolutely no complain I have with this place. They've been stellar at their food and drinks, and not to forget their superb concept. The food never has any shortcomings, and the drinks are just out of this world - both in terms of presentation and taste.

Their tissue papers(in the form of a toilet roll), their menus(in the form of a newspaper), the cutlery(with hashtags), a wooden box in their outdoor area that has matchsticks for those who want to smoke(what a brilliant thing to do), the box in which the bill comes - everything is like a breath of fresh air!

Coming to their food, here are a few things I've tried at Social.

Their Barbeque Chicken Poutine is just delicious! Oodles of liquid cheese and barbeque sauce, generously topped with chicken chunks, the fries were simply yummy!

The Achmeds Mezze Platter did full justice to each of the components. Came with 3 dips - hummus, baba ganoush and a mayo dip. I've had better hummus than this, but this wasn't bad either. The baba ganoush and the mayo dip were really nice! Falafel and Awesomasas - sufficiently appetizing and really really flavourful! Can't even begin to explain how aptly they've named the 'Awesomasas'. The cheese inside it, the crispy coating outside - you don't need anything else from life! To complete the platter was fattoush salad, pita bread and lavas.

Shawarma, Yo Mama was a DIY dish. The Shawarma was so damn delicious that you wouldn't want to share it with anyone! The perfect combination of chicken, pita, garlic mayo and hummus, it's a complete meal in itself!

Jalapeno Cheese Nads - For someone who loves cheese, and even for someone who doesn't, this dish is a must-try! Nuggets with a filling of that beautiful cheese, this dish comes with the most delicious and perfectly complementing sauce that balances the flavour of the nuggets for you. 'Sriraja chunda', as given in the menu, this sauce is slightly sweet. You won't feel too heavy because of only eating cheese as long as you're dipping it in this sauce to balance the monotony(in a good way) of the cheese.

Fully Loaded Nachos - This is the only disappointing thing on their menu. The nachos are just pathetic! Which restaurant gives senor pepito in a baked nachos dish now? None. Also, it's just a very dry dish. Not enough cheese, not enough toppings, not saucy enough. Disappointment.

Crispy Sesame Honey Chilli Fries - This dish needs no description. It's just lip-smacking! A very good option for the vegetarians.

DIY Keema Bruschettas - The most filling appetizer I've tried here! The keema is better than what I've had at many other restaurants in Hauz Khas Village, and that is like saying something. It's not the spicy stuff that you would want, but it is packed with flavours! Suits to all kinds of spice tolerance level, the keema is pretty mildly spiced but very delicious. The breads that come with this were fresh and nice, and the salad made for a nice topping on the keema bruschetta. Don't forget to season your bread using the brush that comes in this dish. Full marks for the concept here!

Their baos were one really talked-about section of the menu, and I tried these on 2 different occasions. The Vada Pao Bao was spectacular! Very soft pita bread, extremely crispy vada pao, superb filling inside, and the cherry on the cake with the superlative lehsun chutney mayo! A must-try for the vegetarians!

The Habi-B-Q Lamb Bao was the lebanese kind. Came with a serving of hummus, the chicken inside the bao was really good! Very filling, very delicious.

Their Lamb Massaman Curry was perfectly spiced, well-balanced with flavours, had that crazy punch in the dish, and really made me happy with the taste overall. Served with rice, the curry can be your patent filling main course.

I've tried 2 of their desserts and I have mixed emotions for the desserts section.

The Watermelon Caipirojka Gateau was a cake which was layered with finely chopped watermelon and had that zing to it which was coming from the lemon and mint. The lemon was very prominent in taste, and so was the watermelon. Together, the dessert didn't quite work for me like a mind-blowing dessert, but was an okay thing for me.

The Banoffee Cronut, however, was absolutely heavenly! Heavenly is also not doing justice to how good this dessert is. A stack of cronuts with toffee sauce and sliced bananas between each of them, the dessert was topped with whipped cream. The toffee sauce was the star amongst all of the components in this dish. What a beauty! Imagine 4 chunks of cronut, toffee sauce, bananas and whipped cream, all coming together in one bite - is it bliss or is it bliss!

Coming to their drinks section, the Ferrero Rocher Shake came in a small tumbler topped with whipped cream and a full ferrero rocher chocolate. Along came a slice of the cake that can be had with the shake. The shake was not at all overly sweet, and was the best shake that I've had in quite some time! 

The Peach Iced Tea - They just rocked with the presentation, and with the taste as well. Not too sweet, thankfully, the iced tea was really nice!

Amongst the other hardcore drinks that I''ve tried here, A Game of Sling(gin based) is one of the most suitables ones for all kinds of drinkers. Not too sweet, not too strong, just the right amount of sweetness here.

The Blue Pill or Red - What a kickass presentation! The drink(vodka based) comes to you in a red colour, and along comes an injection with the blue curacao in it. Inject the liquid into the beaker(yes, the glass is a beaker) and the glass becomes beautiful! A mix of blue and red, it really is a sight to look at. Mix the drink and it becomes purple-ish. The taste - wow!

Earl of Gin - By the name you must have guessed it is gin based. Also if you pay a little more attention to the name, you might catch the 'Earl' in it. The Earl, for the Earl Grey Tea. A drink that is not at all sweet, comes with the tea bag that you can dip in your drink as per the taste you like, has the fierce flavour of earl grey tea in it, and one which is nothing but just brilliant! A breath of fresh air, this is a kind of drink I've never had before. In love with it? Oh, yes!

Deconstructed Moscow Mule - Bitter, as the name suggests, and mixed with ginger ale, this drink(vodka based) is for those who don't like their drinks sweet. Really different, really yummy, and nothing like you've ever tasted before. The smoky flavour in this drink is quite evident!

Aachraoska - I was really skeptical about trying this drink(vodka based) though I'd heard rave reviews about it from people, but what came to me was then a very very pleasant surprise. I was speculating the drink to be too too 'aachar' type, and that it was, but in a beautiful way! The little aachar shreds at the bottom of the martdaan(the container in which aachar is stored) were superrrr! A crazy drink!

Old Smoke is what is considered to be whiskey drinkers' favourite choice here, or at least that is what my friends recommended to me. Orange zest oil, sweet and sour mix, and a smoky flavour - that's how the menu puts it and that's exactly what you get! The drink is bitter, but in a good way, and like every other drink on the menu here, this is very unique in taste!

LIIT - Electric and Toxic. A good change from the usual LIIT, the Electric one is blue curacao based, and the Toxic one is cranberry juice based. The Toxic one is a better choice for me, as I love the flavour of cranberry and apple in it, but the Electric LIIT is great as well. Try both just for the heck of trying, and choose your favourite one then! The perfect drink for getting high on(nobody needs a background on this), their LIIT comes in 2 sizes - 500ml and 1 litre. The pipe inside the tower in which the LIIT is served - kickass!

Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fish Bowl - Margharita and Beer - what a combination! A special mention for the presentation here. Just to give the drink a feel of the fish bowl, what came to us was a drink in a miniature fish bowl. Full points for the thought that went into this! The drink will be really appreciated by beer lovers, as that is the dominant flavour here, but that does not mean that the margharita goes unnoticed. You can taste the margharita in the beginning, but as you go on drinking, you can taste more of beer. A very unique idea!

On many occasions we've made use of the quarters that they have on their menu, and I must mention that they're very pocket-friendly. You can also opt for buying an entire bottle as they do give you the option of that.

The food is just excellent and the drinks are even better. The prices - very nominal. What brings the crowd here is mostly the nominal pricing and then the concept. A very good place to work out of during the day, go for a lunch with friends, chilling in the evening and partying at night - it solves all purposes for you. THE place to be in HKV right now, as people put it, I don't think they're wrong about this. Who doesn't like good food at a place with a good ambience and at prices that are nothing but affordable?

Coming to their service - the staff has always been prompt and sweet, always very kind, even if the place is overflowing with people. Barring this one incident where I had ordered for Barbeque Chicken Poutine on the server's recommendation and the same server got me a Barbeque Chicken Sandwich. On telling him that I ordered for the former, the server replies "ab toh aa gaya hai, ab khaalo". WOW! You expect a reply like this coming from a place that is doing wonders when it comes to their business, but ruining it all because of one stupid waiter. I got really angry at him for saying that to me and the other waiters took him away. What came next was the other waiters scolding him in one corner for his behaviour with me, and that waiter staring at me continuously from the corner of the room like he's going to kill me with that stare. Very very disappointing!

Another thing that they can really improve upon is the way they handle people on the waiting list. The area where people wait for getting a table is right in front of the bar. As soon as they see a table getting vacant, they go and grab it. Where is the staff while all this is happening? They're nowhere to be found. Very very unorganised! It's like people fighting like dogs for getting a table. This is something the management should take care of, not left to the people to fight it out amongst themselves. And believe me, that really is how it is done here. 

It goes without saying that I'll keep coming back to this place for reasons more than one, but what I'll really return for the very next time is their Fish Tacos, Prawn Sesame Toast and the Breakfast Menu. Something I've really been meaning to try. Kudos to the restaurant for such a great concept and a big pat on the back for making the food and drinks SO good!

A 4.5/5 only because of the behaviour of that one waiter.

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