Deli Verite

Smoke House Deli in Khan Market gives the term 'delicatessen' a whole new flavour.

When, as children, we read the word 'deli', we would associate it with a drab eatery with grimy glass counters containing a luxuriance of meats, sausages and cold cuts — sometimes embellished with bread — tended to by a crusty Jew with a heart of gold. All these imaginings, of course, were the result of reading innumerable Franklin Dixons where soft-boiled detectives would solve crime while eating a cold hard-boiled egg, bacon and mustard sandwich in a deli.

Then, in 2009, Smoke House Deli set up shop in Vasant Kunj, and with its classy white interiors, trim lines and top-notch upscale casual cuisine, suavley demolished all these associations. Now, with the opening of its second outlet in the city at Khan Market, the establishment continues to cheerfully turn the concept of a delicatessen on its head.

Given that one is in a deli, it seemed natural to begin the meal with a couple of sanwiches and without much head-scratching, we order a Turkey Pastrami and Gouda Melt and a Smoked Lamb Burger. The burger, which contains melted cheese, caramelised onions, mayonaisse and a tender and tasty lamb patty, is immaculately conceived. The pastrami sanwich is the antipode to the punchy burger — with a calm, almost reflective flavour — the turkey and gouda going together like ham and eggs.

For the mains, we decide to go with a Spiced Tenderloin and Onion Pizza, and one of the restaurant's signature dishes — the SHD Peri Peri Rubbed Smoked Chicken with a Smoked Pimento Sauce. Without much delay, one is ready for the second onslaught of food. Craftily cooked with a seductively smoky taste, the SHD can restore anybody's shaken faith in the virtues of the common fowl. The pizza is perhaps a subtle joke on the chef's part. It can be described only as a masaledar thin-crust pizza, on which chunks of spicy tenderloin repose majestically. Regardless, it is an entirely palatable state of affairs.

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