Walking down to the [V] Café & Bar is rather humbling experience as you find yourself walking with the backside of an awesome mall in Saket to one side and the sarkari district centre market on the other. You turn into a lane that seems to have a few eating joints and walk on to a place where you sight the name of your destination in the typical Channel V style.
We were four of us – my wife, son, nephew and I – and with two youngsters around we thought we wouldn’t feel too terribly out of place in a place which should be bubbling with youthful energy. So we didn’t mind the cracked and broken bits of floor tiles just outside the café. Well, I overlooked the garishly painted, but thank God, not dented girl with her aha!-a-family-in-the-afternoon smile.
Did I expect some Karan Johar interiors there? Did I expect some dancing pinks and winking blues doing the Macarena there? Well, if they were, I’d have wanted some support from the youngsters with us… but the interiors were comparatively subdued and dull if what you expected was some out-of-the-world vibrancy of colours. The sunlight coming in from the translucent large windows made the inside look quieter than we expected until I noticed that we were the only ones there. No, it didn’t remain as exclusive as this as a few nervous looking couples did walk in and walk out after their shared something-something… well, we were destined to spend a long time here.
We informed the waiter that we would be using our Blogadda vouchers and handed them over for a confirmation. He returned after a while to tell us that we’d have to go to the Gurgaon outlet if we intended to use them.
‘But we called you up and had explained that we could use and have come only after getting an affirmative for an answer,’ I said a bit unnerved, and then asked the waiter to check with the manager.
I could see them huddled up in an animated discussion in a far corner where there was obviously some senior personnel doing his profit-and-loss math on a laptop and waving his hands about animatedly. We were now hungry and thirsty and my son said, I told you this was a bad idea. This place, my friends tell me, is anyway a dump.’
The waiter returned, and this time with a huge benevolent smile and magnanimously announced that we could use the two vouchers.
‘Well,’ I thought, ‘the nightmare is over.’ We ordered our beers and Chenin Blanc and the starters to be followed by some really fancy names for the main course. Well if Chikibum Bum and Fish Milenge isn’t unconventional enough, then you must still be dreaming and living in the DD Chitrahaar era!
The drinks were chilled and the food was great! Well, I don’t mean it was the best tasting, I just mean that the helpings were more than sufficient. No, they did not stand on our heads nor did anyone pester us to order more. They remained respectfully in the shadows of the great dull interiors but were always there if one of wanted to ask something.
We had a gala time clicking shots of the food that was served to us, the interiors that surrounded us… and then I just swung around to click a few sweeping shots of the bar that was just behind me. Some immediately came swooping to me and said, ‘You can’t take pictures.’
‘I can’t take pictures?’ I asked even though I knew I was just repeating the words I had just heard. I hesitatingly asked, ‘Prohibited?’ and then after a pause, added, ‘Top secret, some national archives around?’
The swooping gentleman (and only later did I know that he was the charming Bappy, their manager) did not show that he did not understand me, but repeated, ‘You can’t take pictures.’
‘Right,’ I said, and thought this happens only in some temples where we were sometimes even asked t remove our belts, so I asked reverently, ‘you’re we can’t click our smiling faces as we sit here?’
‘Yes, you can do that. But you can’t take pictures of our bar.’
‘What about this lovely display of V-mugs here?’
‘Yes, you can click that.’
‘And these symbols of the chaotic young mind here on this wall?’
‘Yes, you can click that.’
‘The wall painting there?’ I asked, pointing to one on the way to the restrooms.
‘Yes, that too.’
‘But not the Bar counter.’
‘No, not that.’
Well, so the rules were clear in my mind and I made sure that we did not cross any boundaries so far as photography was concerned.
It was at this point of time that I happened to decide to go to the restroom where I noticed ‘Video Booth’ written boldly, so I walked up to the rules-savvy manager and asked, ‘Video booth. What’s this?’
He said, ‘Video booth.’
‘Ok. I can read that. What do you do there.’
‘Nothing. You can record anything and we will show it on the screen inside and sometimes even in a special program on Channel V.’ Now this was quite exciting and I was eager to know if I could do something mad while I was here in this temple where photography was banned in certain nooks and corners. So I asked him if I could experiment with my sanity.
‘Not possible,’ he answered.
A part of me was thrilled because I thought he was trying to tell me that was an evolved person who shouldn’t be indulging in such base liberties, but then he went on, ‘You can’t do it yourself. We have an operator.’
‘Right. Where can I meet him?’
‘Phew!’ I thought, this wee-guy (Oops! It should be V-guy!) is obsessed with ‘can’t’. But I persisted, ‘Why can’t I? Is there some upper age limit for madness?’
‘No, no,’ he graciously exclaimed, ‘The person who shoots is not there. He left some days back without informing us and now we don’t have anyone to operate the camera and the software.’
I nodded in understanding and returned to where my family was sitting and watching me with some amusement. I must say here that we were finding this manager quite an endearingly entertaining fellow. We sat there for some more time watching some inane songs playing on the large screen to my left… but then I’ve hardly been a fan of what they keep playing on Channel V, so we decided to call for the bill.
Gave the waiter the two vouchers and asked him to get the amounted deducted from the total amount. ‘I loved the quantum of Chikibum Bum,’ said my son. I too agreed as I had sneaked a few morsels from his plate too as my Fish Milenge was a trifle less heavy than what my tummy generally demanded. But the dishes, we agreed weren’t bad at all and even the prices appeared reasonable.
‘But the interiors need some working,’ I said, ‘too dull for the 20-somethings who must be coming as the sun sets in the evening.’
My nephew smiled and said, ‘But the manager is entertaining enough.’
As we talked, the waiter came and informed us that only one of the two vouchers could be accepted by the management and the remaining amount, which was more than 2500 was to be paid. I blinked as I tried to register what he was saying and then asked him to call the manager.
Bappy entered our lives again and began rather predictably, ‘I can’t accept two vouchers.’
‘But why? We had handed them to you right in the beginning which implies that we intended to use them.’
‘That’s right, sir. But I can’t accept two vouchers,’ insisted Bappy. This discussion went on for quite a while where all our logic was stone-walled by Bappy’s favourite line of five words: ‘I can’t accept two vouchers.’ He did elaborately explain to us about some complex data acceptance that was linked to tables in the café and was careful enough to punctuate all his explanations with his famous five sentence!
So we had no alternative but to pay and walk out a trifle flustered and shaken. That spare voucher is still somewhere in some drawer in my Study and I have all the intention to preserve it as a memory of what happened that day.
I’m sure we’d have loved the café a lot more had we not ended up paying more than we thought we would. We were in a spot because of the unexpected way things turned out there… and as we walked out, I said to my wife, ‘V in a spot!’ The teacher in her immediately said, ‘We could have been in a spot!’ I smiled… and saw the waiter and the manager giving us perplexed looks.
Our final analysis:
Food – Wholesome quantity but nothing exceptional in taste.
Wine – Expensive and the two glasses we ordered had different quantities.
Service – Rajiv Tiwari was excellent, attentive, & courteous. Bappy was hilarious! I found that person sitting in the far corner occupying a table meant for patrons and working on his laptop rather disconcerting. One doesn’t enjoy watching an open office when one goes to a restaurant.
Pricing – Obviously less than the fine dining places… but then this is just a café and bar and nothing more.
A meal for four (including a glass of wine each) will cost you upwards of a thousand rupees per person…
Review of [V] Spot Café & Bar… done for Blogadda
31 January 2013