For the Calm
I have so many fond memories of Ploof. The first time I visited was for the birthday of a family friend – the place is small so they had to queue all the tables together on to one side to make room for us. It was a beautiful evening with great food and lots of laughter. I’ve been back many, many times since. Ploof is great for long drawn out lunches filled with giggling and gossip in their sun dappled terrace, for week day dinners where you need some restorative peace and quiet or even for a civilized snack and a drink if you happen to be in the area.Places like this are one of the reasons I live in Delhi. Why I brave the cacophony of violence, pretension and conspicuous consumption in this city. It’s because of these tiny pockets of charm, culture and a love of quality. Indulgent greenery, the quiet of a much smaller city, a slower pace, places where the din dies away.
Hidden away in a shady corner of lush, calm Lodhi Colony Market, Ploof is a lot of goodness compacted into a small space.
The ground floor is cosy and inviting with its bright yellow furniture and quirky black and white photos. Everyone and their uncle has tried the photo collage theme and most of the time, the results are disastrous. At Ploof, the effect is cheerful, classy and understated. A little further in and you’ll find shelves filled with just baked Ciabatta, Focacia and whole wheat loaves. The refrigerated stands hold dessert, meats, marinades and an array of cheese. A one stop shop for all your picnic or barbecue needs.
My favourite, is the unexpectedly verdant terrace with its adorable wall filled with old school badminton rackets. On winter nights, it’s an intimate, magical gardenlike escape from reality.
It might be called a deli but Ploof has a lot more to offer than just snacks and sandwiches.Peppers stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mozzarella Phylo Triangles are excellent vegetarian appetizers, though their portions are a little smaller than I would have liked. The Cold Cut Platter, Prawns Karwari Style(cooked with chopped onions and spice) and Vietnamese Grilled Chicken Skewers are a great way for meat eaters to start off. There’s a bunch of sandwiches, all of which are carefully, deliciously put together and substantial.What you really shouldn’t miss here is the seafood. The gleaming Grilled Sea Bass Fillet, the delicately textured, enchanting Red Snapper and the effortless elegance of the Pan Seared Himalayan Trout cooked as they were meant to be, flavoured often only with a glug of olive oil and squeeze of lime. The quality of the ingredients and the courage to let them speak for themselves without unnecessary paraphernalia is a surprise and a delight.The desserts are a rotating and mixed bag but if you, like me, have already consumed an aquarium’s worth of sea critters you’re unlikely to care.
You might want to think again about turning up at Ploof in your comfy jeans and old t-shirt. The place attracts South Delhi’s fashionable intelligentsia and you’ll see your share of contrasting blouses and organic cotton. One time I saw Arundhati Roy eating trout there and another time I (almost) saw Markandey Katju.
The staff can be plenty inattentive but I can’t really slag them since they give me 2 bread baskets when I ask.