Hello, there! I hope you’re having a good summer. It’s time for another Finders Eaters post and this time, Arshi and I take you to a place that’s a bit of a throwback.
Set on the leafy Lodhi Road of south Delhi, the India Habitat Centre is truly an architectural sight to behold. It was in this marvelous setting that we found our third hidden gem. The All American Diner is situated in the Lobby Level of IHC and boasts of giving a true American diner experience in the heart of the Indian capital.
While it is a much-frequented joint among the working populace of the area, it remains shrouded in anonymity for the rest of the city—a fact which was quite surprising for us once we’d had a taste of the place (pun intended). Despite its relative obscurity, it’s a pretty busy place. Busy enough that even at 12 noon on a sunny Monday morning, we had to wait for about 15-20 minutes for a booth. But don’t be disheartened, the diner also has several counter stools and tables along the walls where one can sit while waiting or dive right into the food, if you prefer a meal with a view.
Upon entering the establishment, we encountered a huge jukebox kept directly in front of the door, giving a 1950s vibe to the whole place which was further enhanced by the decor. With a colour palate of white, black and red dominating its entirety, the walls are dotted with old school album covers of classic favourites such as The Beatles and posters from 1950s to the latter part of the 20th century. To further augment the echo of a bygone era, the music selection was purely sublime. There were quite a few times that we found ourselves humming along to songs like Hey Jude, A Hard Day’s Night, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Pretty Woman and other such unforgettable melodies. The music was so wonderful that a certain someone, for once, was able to concentrate on something other than the food (hint: it’s the permanently hungry one).
Apart from band memorabilia, the walls of the place are plastered with vintage print advertisements from America of the 50s and 60s. Fans of Mad Men will appreciate the numerous references you can find—an advert for Popsicles, a poster for Lucky Strike and one that wasn’t from the show itself but had ‘Don’s Parlour’ written on it which still counts (don’t fight this unless you want to unleash The Fangirl). It was easy to imagine ourselves as one of the characters from the show when we first walked in to the restaurant. This place is so authentic that it made us hope that the next person walking in through the door would be Peggy Olson or Don Draper.
The waiting staff was very polite and quick on their feet. We were attended to within seconds of entering the premises and handed over menus for our perusal. It was nice to see a place where patrons are not overlooked, even when it is bustling with the morning crowd.
Talking about the food–which, undoubtedly is the real reason we chose this place–it was worth every penny! Going through the menu, a lot of items caught our fancy and we would have ordered them all, if our stomachs and pockets (but mainly, pockets) had allowed. We settled for a Chicken Pot Pie and a Banana Berry Milkshake with a Chili Bean Burger and an Espresso with Crème De Menthe (Yes, Arshi did NOT forgo coffee this time. Nope.) For dessert, after much deliberation, we got Chocolate Chip Pancakes, which might we add, were the fluffiest we have ever had. The portions of all dishes were quite impressive.
An old American standby, the Chicken Pot Pie was a nice change from the usual fare that we are subjected to at most places. It consisted of chicken and vegetables in a sumptuous white sauce with a flaky crust on top, served with a salad and some bread on the side. We’d recommend this dish to anyone looking to try a classic American meal because it was rich, wholesome and definitely left us feeling satiated. Paired with the Banana Berry Shake, let’s just say that it made us quite happy.
Now, we’ve eaten burgers at a number of establishments so far, but we’ve never had one so well-balanced. Considering the size of it, we’d go so far as to say that it was perfect—not so small that you feel cheated and not so big that you’re unable to finish it and are left embarrassed (which has happened before but we can’t tell you when because we worked hard to block those memories). The taste itself was wonderful, if a bit more spicy than the norm, but we personally like spicy food so we had no qualms about it. Moving on to the coffee—as a self-confessed caffeine addict, Arshi can assure you that the coffee offered by the diner ticks off all the requirements of a good cup of Joe. It was quite strong with the Crème de Menthe providing that little bit of sweetness which ensures that you don’t need to add any sweetener to it.
While the food was pretty darned delectable, we must warn you that it was a bit on the pricier side. We shelled out around Rs. 800 per head but let us tell you, we have no regrets because the whole dining experience that they offer is unparalleled. Our server Choeden was absolutely wonderful and we believe that she was one of the reasons we enjoyed our meal so much.
They have a picturesque outdoor seating area too but we weren’t brave enough to sit through a meal (no matter how delicious) with the sun beating down on us so we had to pass. It would be perfect for an evening meal or dinner, though. We definitely wouldn’t mind going back for either. If you’re looking for a place that offers a fare that is a break from the normal and that too, in great environs, look no further than The All American Diner–it has the Finders Eaters’ stamp of approval.
I hope you enjoyed this post. The next one will be up on Arshi’s blog in two weeks. Let me know in the comments below what you thought of this and don’t forget to share this on Facebook/Twitter because we need all the love we can get. Until next time…