Delhi's newest concept store & cafe, Artisan Lab should be your next sunday brunch spot
By Saumyaa Vohra11 September 2019
There’s always time for All Day Breakfast
As I climb the stairs of this store-slash-cafe (after finding its recondite entrance, tucked away behind the Forest Essentials store), I expect to find a beatnik-chic, vegan noshery that’ll draw a very specific crowd. The space, in turn, is spacious with a sharp aesthetic–think white walls, wooden, Shoji-screen style walls and plenty of indoor plants, with a first floor that houses decor, and the second a well-lit, sunny cafe.
Neimet Sethi, one of the two sisters behind the concept, sits down across from me and orders a flurry of things I’m confident I won’t be able to finish eating. “I moved back from New York, where I was a chef, to start this when Noor [Sethi, her sister] thought of the idea–a concept store she would run and a cafe that I would.” Their powers have combined to make Artisan Lab a space with staying power, with beautifully curated decor that you can peruse between your coffee and eggs.
At the decor store, liquor aficionados particular about the right glassware will find flutes, snifters, tumblers and tulip glasses they can take home for their cabinet–amongst various other decorative and utilitarian pieces. The aesthetic is more sharp neutrals and monochrome than it is pops of colour–very befitting of a well-curated bachelor pad.
But the piece de resistance is the cafe. It might fool you into thinking it’ll have limited range because of its Friends of the Earth philosophy, which chooses the most ethical or sustainable option available for the methods and ingredients used (think locally sourced ingredients, free-range chicken, bamboo straws…). However, Sethi (who has cheffed at The Ritz Carlton, Dubai and Junoon, New York in the past) has put together a well thought-out menu with a plethora of options; including–but not limited to–vegan. “I’ve put together a little coded guide at the top of the menu, that signals if something contains nuts, gluten, eggs or lactose–allergies need to be taken seriously, and this way a diner can cross-reference this and know exactly what they’re putting into their body.”
One of the few places in the city that serves an all-day breakfast, there some refreshing, summery things I’d go back to try next time–like the Pina Colada Smoothie Bowl and Gambas Pil Pil (light, Spanish prawns in rosemary and chilli olive oil, served with a baguette). But, of the things I sampled, there were too many that stood out–either for their flawless prep, or for their daring juxtaposition of flavours–that completely worked for it.
Vegetarians should really tuck into their cheese plates–the Baked Brie with truffle honey, rosemary and walnuts, for example, or the Fig & Burrata (where the sticky-sweet fig blends beautifully with the creamy mozzarella). The Pesto Rigatoni makes for a solid second act, with roasted pine-nuts and Parmesan Reggiano that really bring out the freshness of their homegrown basil. If you allow yourself eggs, indulge in their scrambled ones with truffle oil and tapenade–they balance out the light chewiness of the accompanying sourdough bread just right.
For meat-eaters, the juicy Lamb & Bacon Sliders with Chipotle Aioli will go down a treat, as will the avocado rife Salmon Tartare, but the one thing that’ll convert you from fleeting visitor to regular is the Artisan Lab Fried chicken. The impeccably-made crumbed meat (just right, not at all heavy) comes together perfectly with the honey and sea-salt soaked slice of homemade brioche. A glass of the Artisan Lab Lemonade Mix (all kinds of tart and fizzy) is the perfect companion to help it all go down.
For dessert, you’ll find something very comforting and childhood-nostalgia evoking in the milky sweetness of the Pastel Del Tres Leche, but the Burnt Cheesecake–tough on the outside, impossibly creamy on the inside–with fruit compote makes an ideal after-dinner dessert. If you can make it here on cheat day, either of the sinful French Toasts will be worth your while–go with the Belgian Chocolate French Toast if you’re in the mood for the chocolate equivalent of a warm hug, or choose the Salted Caramel Bacon French Toast if you’re feeling more experimental.The food and the vibe of the Artisan Lab Cafe works across both an early dinner date or a weekend lunch with the boys. After all, there can never be too many plant-filled, sun-soaked places to grab a delicious brunch at, and this new GK entrant has officially joined the ranks of the elite few that can be labelled genuinely good.