The success of a restaurant, café or lounge-bar depends on just one factor – its loyalists. After the initial excitement of being the hip new place in town is over, the bigger hurdle is sustainability. Intelligent restaurateurs will concoct an alchemy of three things: quality and consistency of the menu, supreme service and a captivating setting. This is where design comes into play; a space comes alive with its own unique personality. It becomes another world, a parallel reality, the sweet escape that you look forward to. Each time.
Interiors: Tejal Mathur (Team Design) and Ironworks
This much applauded Indian fine-diner envelops you with its sepia-tinted decadence. Walls bearing an assortment of framed vintage photographs, decorative plates, mirrors, deer-head replicas and a large clock are supplemented by ornate chandeliers and ceiling lamps that are suspended from several points, contrasted by the industrial-looking exposed airconditioning ducts that run through. The lower level bar is offset by two large arched glass doorways; a carved wood and wrought iron stairway and banisters lead to the upper level eatery. The carefully distressed walls, pillars and customised furniture are all in shades of washed teal and brown, set against a corrugated roof and checkered flooring. Deliberately crammed with curios and bric-a-bracs, the space carries the mysterious aura of a desi Miss Havisham, caught in a beautiful time warp and refusing to let go of past memories.
10 Adarsh Nagar, Pali Naka, Bandra West, Mumbai – 400050. +91 22 26519400.
THE GLASS HOUSE
Architecture and interiors: The Architects Office (TAO)
The name itself evokes an image of surreal romanticism; the space is almost that, but in a modern, urban sense. The upscale deli-bistro-bar constitutes a lovely blend of glass and steel. Winner of a couple of international design awards, this part al-fresco, part indoor, part mezzanine structure takes inspiration from a swanky greenhouse and an oriental garden. Glass, when utilized cleverly, creates layers through reflections and transparencies, and also gives out the illusion of extended space. Water installations, a green wall of micro-herbs, mood lighting and the surrounding trees add a new-age fairytale vibe. Steel ceiling beams, pillars and frames create a metallic skeleton that can be seen through the clear walls and partitions. From a tranquil conservatory during the day, it transforms into a glittering jewel post sunset – two completely different visual experiences, both equally charming.
25/2 Lavelle Road, Bengaluru – 560001. +91 80 64518888.
Interiors: Lucie Salaun
One space, so many options. You may want some al-fresco time in the cobbled courtyard or on the terrace, viewing the historic Qutub Minar. Or perhaps you would prefer to sit indoors; private dining can also be arranged. The white upholstery, flowing curtains and bedsits in the outdoor areas, in addition to the lush green surrounding foliage, transport you to a Provençal garden bistro. Inside, it is eclectic Parisian – a bit of jazz club, a bit of deco, a bit of this and that. And a lot of charm. Floor to ceiling glass windows ensure plenty of natural light to complement the retro chairs and large lampshades in hues of mustard and saffron. The separate colour schemes for the interior and exterior areas give you two different experiences. Refined and chic, but also sweet.
One Qutub, 1501, Kalka Das Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi – 110030. +91 8800480048.
SONAR TORIArchitecture: Channa Daswate
Interiors: Narayan Chandra Sinha and Swarup Dutta
The main eatery is part of a much larger space that can be booked for weddings, ceremonies and cultural presentations. Rural huts are elegantly reinterpreted as wooden villas with thatched roofs, surrounded by water bodies with lotuses and lilies. The dining area has a high ceiling that is adorned with artworks and scribbles – a fusion of folk and graffiti. An impressive cluster of copper lampshades gaze down at the diners. The walls are adorned with enlarged photographs of traditional gentry from the region, goddess Durga and the beloved Tagore. The quintessential zamindari touches include palm leaf hand-fans, vintage glass candlestands, a gramophone and plenty of other artsy pieces that symbolise old Bengal. Solid brass tableware authenticates the fine dine experience.
CPT Road, Raichak, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal – 743368. +91 3714 275633.
ELLIPSISInteriors: Thomas Schoos
Resembling the sprawling New York dupleix studio apartment of an eccentric, somewhat bipolar art collector, Ellipsis is a visual feast. The numerous framed paintings range from classical oil portraits to serene watercolour landscapes to intriguing acrylic abstracts to mixed media mind-benders; brushstrokes and ink splashes often step outside the canvas and onto the walls in fluid flourishes and angry splatters. As for seating – you can lounge in the den, chill at the bar, be civil at the tables, or perch languorously on stools, chairs and thrones. Art is in every corner: avant garde sculptures dot the space, the tabletops are patterned, the nebular clusters of lightbulbs and artsy lamps are hard to ignore. No two elements are the same, but somehow, all of it works together. Delightfully cuckoo.
B-1, Amarchand Mansion, 16 Madame Cama Road, Colaba, Mumbai – 400001. +91 22 66213333.