Lovely assorted bite-sized sandwiches and keema pao in just the right shade of brown greet at Café at CMYK in Meherchand Market

The other evening, a friend threw a great party for her birthday. It was memorable for a many reasons — the most attractive being the fact that the venue was a lovely café in central Delhi. I had not been there earlier but got hooked on to the idea the moment I heard that it was in Meherchand Market. And the market, alert readers will recall, is one of my favourites these days because of easy access and parking. It’s right behind India Habitat Centre, and parking is always available in front of the rows of shops the market consists of.

The café — called Café — is above CMYK (which incidentally has some excellent books on cinema) at the beginning of the market (if you are coming from the side of Habitat). The interiors are simple but inviting. And nicer still is the fact that there is a small sitting area outside, where you can sit and smoke and watch the busy world go by.

I went back there last week, and was ushered in by the aroma of coffee. I am a tea man myself, but I have to admit that it was inviting. We sat out, hidden by lush green vines, and looked at the menu card, which celebrates the centenary of the making of New Delhi. The restaurant too has arrowheads marking the various landmarks of Delhi.

I had eaten, and loved, the Thai basil rolls at the friend’s party. The rolls were soft and stuffed with juicy morsels of chicken flavoured with basil leaves. The Thai basil rolls with chicken are for Rs. 279 a plate, while the vegetarian version — vegetables tossed with Thai herbs and basil leaves — is for Rs. 269.

It would have been nice if I’d eaten my untimely meal (we were there at around 5.30 p.m.) sitting there but we had a friend coming home, so we asked the food to be packed. We thought we’d have assorted sandwiches for tea, so I asked for (bite-sized) sandwiches with chicken, bacon and cheese, egg, pesto, olive and feta (Rs. 299). But they had run out of bacon, so I asked for the vegetable sandwich platter (Rs. 269). I love keema, so the lamb keema pao (Rs. 199) was added to the list. And my wife wanted the farmer’s roast chicken (Rs. 289).

The food was indeed very, very good. The sandwiches — small open triangles — had four different toppings, with feta and olive, tomato and mint, grilled peppers and mushroom and cheese and pesto. Each of them was delicious. But four small triangles of bread, of course, are not substantial, but I suppose they are not meant to be.

My keema pao was excellent. The keema had been cooked and browned well and had the right amount of spices. It had a mildly tart and spicy flavour which I enjoyed. The paos, two fairly large buns, were soft and went well with the keema. I had the brown sauce of the chicken roast and enjoyed it. And the roast (consisting of two very large pieces), I was told, was nice and juicy and came with assorted blanched vegetables.

Actually, I am not surprised by the quality of the food, for it’s being handled by two people — Sudha Kukreja and Manav — who have given us some excellent restaurants, including Chilli Seassons, Ploof and Blanco.

This is a place that deserves to do well. The food is good, the prices are reasonable (the sambal udang fish, for instance, is for Rs. 209, the Malaysian laksa with prawns is for 369 and the no-carb Spanish omelette for those watching their weight is for Rs. 189).

I don’t really like the man with the muscles. But this time I have to quote him. As Arnie said, I’ll be back.