Food flings

L' Opera bakery at Khan Market

L' Opera bakery at Khan Market   | Photo Credit: Anuj Arora

The case for L’Opera

Growing up, we had patties and those buns with candied fruit bits in them; we even had puff pastries and those cream cakes where the “cream” on top was stiffer than shoes, but someone decided that we needed a baguette and mille-feuille like we had never ever needed it before. Alas, it was my apple in the Garden of Eden, for one bite and I was hooked.

Now I grew up on a staple diet of Wenger’s, with the patties being my evening treat after ‘extra-curricular’ activities. But Wenger’s and all those old-school bakeries lost me once L’Opera arrived.

Like the coconut I am (brown outside, white inside) it didn’t take me a second longer than needed to switch loyalties and prattle on about the goodness herein, to swear my allegiance to the red, white and blue, even as I hummed the Marsellaise and readied to buy myself a beret to wear when I carry my baguette home.

My induction into this hallowed space automatically entitled me to instantly cultivate and exhibit a general disdainful disregard for all those ignorant plebs at commoner bakeries, yes, Wenger’s, with their greasy patties and desi stuffings. Who the hell orders all that!?

Oh no no, give me instead those salted caramel eclairs, that crispy croissant with those buttery nuances, or a quiche, a lovely warm proper quiche, which is oh-so-Pareee, and not tadka-spicy. L’Opera is not just a bakery, it’s a special place. Why, even those fancy people strewn about inside (they could be paid props for all we know) rattle on in hushed French (or in a French-sounding way) adding to the atmosphere. It just all feels so authentic!

The only sad bit: their authenticity extends to their pricing for it appears to be at par with places in Paris; I can’t afford to visit the place often enough. But, on the bright side, I have rediscovered the joys of window-shopping again.

Magandeep Singh rues each visit to L'Opera but still goes as it's cheaper than flying to Paris

The case for Wenger’s

Every city has an identity and Wenger’s is an initiation. When someone’s new in Delhi, you take them to Wenger’s, not L’Opera. You don’t need a bakery that could be in any part of the world. You need one that is intrinsic to the city. The lines, the white-haired men at the counter, the elaborate billing system, are all unhurried testaments to a time that connect you to Lutyen’s Delhi. It’s also the only place in the city where people don’t come to blows at the slowness of it all. And it’s not a nuanced experience. It’s Delhi, in your face, as Delhi is.

A view of Wenger's at Connaught Place

A view of Wenger's at Connaught Place   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

And that’s because of the mutton shammis. Just one is a snack; two is a meal; three is Punjabi and only goes with a Patiala peg. Sadly they’ve discontinued the rum balls, but the marshmallows are melt-in-mouth and the lemon tarts remind you of something from your childhood.

L’opera is Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh – not in taste, but in clientele. It is Delhi’s LV of food: you’ve got to be seen there, because of the branding. You’re actually craving gaajar ka halwa, while eating a macaroon priced at 250 bucks a pop.

Wenger’s doesn’t pretend. It’s a sort of Ango-Indian taste, where the buttery puff has a wonderful masala-ey filling, so you can eat it for lunch without missing good old ghar ka khana. It’s a warm hug on a cold day, in a city that can feel hostile to an outsider.

Sunalini Mathew visits Wenger’s each time she wants to remember that first week in Delhi city

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 1:36:50 PM |

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