If you haven’t been a fan of flatbreads, this new deli-adjacent eatery at Andaz Delhi will change your opinion
By: Suman Tarafdar
Posted on: August 16, 2019
LF Says: ★★★★
Did I have an opinion on flatbreads before trying them at Soul Pantry, the new eatery at Andaz Delhi? Had I even spared a thought? None, would be the most honest answer. Admittedly I am a recent convert – and have annoyed a few pizza places by asking for their flatbread menu, getting blank stares to I-wish-customer-wasn’t-king looks.
Fresh, with the new place pleasures intact still, flatbread-starring Soul Pantry could not be out of place in a trendy high street in any food capital around the world. Warm, casual, with a menu that you don’t have to spend hours agonising over, it’s a wonderful addition to the hotel, and to Aerocity, Delhi in general. With nearly a dozen hotels, in addition to some food courts and standalone restaurants, Aerocity is fast becoming a food destination with a difference.
For many, food at Andaz has meant Annamaya, with the occasional nod to Juniper Bar. Soul Pantry is located well away from them, diagonally across and it’s definitely easier going from the lobby to Soul Pantry from outside than inside. To get to Soul Pantry, use the residences entrance.
Soul Pantry’s menu is selective - nutritional flatbreads, healthy bowls, fruit and yoghurt-based beverages and an indigenous coffee programme. Yes, there’s tea too if you want – look for it in an innovatively designed menu.
Soul Pantry’s uniqueness lies in its sustainable sourcing of native grains and seasonal local ingredients. For example, the flatbreads are available in three sizes, and guests can choose their dough from healthy grains from across the country - amaranth (Uttarakhand), finger millet or ragi (Tamil Nadu), buckwheat (Arunachal Pradesh) and barley (Ladakh). These nutritional, and very delectable, flatbreads are then paired with locally sourced toppings with a wide range of options. Current toppings choices include fresh burrata and arugula oil topping; avocado humus with crispy chickpea and fresh mint and sumac; pork belly and barbecue sauce; Goan chorizo and belkot cheese; and Mangalore prawn and curry leaves. If you be of the sweet tooth variety, there are sweet flatbreads too - topped with banana, chocolate, baked yogurt and sweet apple.
Chef Kapil Chauhan, Sous Chef at Soul Pantry, and part of the Andaz Delhi launch, describes the concept of Soul Pantry on sustainable lines – “We are taking seeds from the earth and seeing what we are giving back to the earth.” As for the menu options, he says there was a lot of demand for flatbreads and pizzas.
Chef is quick to point out that the flatbreads – yes, they are the star of the show – have no cheese or tomatoes and are much lighter than the usual pizzas generally encountered. Of course, all ingredients are locally sourced. Chef Chauhan says the reason for using just local grains (well local as in the subcontinent) carries forward Annamaya’s principles of locally sourced ingredients. Of course, none of the doughs are entirely made of say amaranth or barley. The menu mentions the percentages – 35 per cent for amaranth, 20 per cent for finger millet, 40 per cent for barley and so on. Only the buckwheat dough is 100 per cent. “We can’t make dough just with amaranth,” Chef explains, saying, “it contains a lot of starch. Finger millet is a very heavy and dry flour. The balance is whole wheat farina”.
Second most prominent on the menu are ‘nutrition’ bowls aka salad adjacent. You could choose from options such as the Italian bowl (tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, pesto, walnuts), Feta bowl (vegetable salad, feta cheese, herb vinaigrette) Green bowl (cucumber and fennel salad, spring onion, spicy French dressing), Nutrition bowl (sprouts chaat, onion, tomato, lime, fresh coriander) and Artisan rice bowl (puffed rice, jhal muri, peanuts, onion, tomatoes, lime). The Artisan rice bowl was very different from the rest of the bowls.
The beverage menu offers nourishing yoghurt-based drinks with the goodness of kale, flax seed, jaggery, fox millet, chia seeds, ginger, yellow lentil and more. The fruit-based beverages feature healthy seasonal fruits paired with energizing ingredients and seasonal herbs.
Unique Tea and Coffee programmes have been created in collaboration with 3 Clive Road and Roasted Today Coffee respectively. Also, on the menu are cold brews, signature blends and seasonal specials.
A special feature is the packaging for takeaways - each flatbread box carries stories of the space and comes with a seed tag that will help you grow your own kitchen garden. For the planet-friendly who plant the seeds, and send a picture of the sprouted plant, there was chatter of discounts on showing the plant! Incentive indeed – along with the moderate prices.
All the varieties of cheeses – including Himalayan brie, yak cheese, Himalayan gouda, Tomme de Savoie, mozzarella, Bocconcini and burrata – used here are from the Himalayas or Bangalore. Just on the side, the toppings have a far more international tinge than the bases.
As for the perfect matching of the perfect base and topping, well, you would be well advised to take the advice of the helpful staff around, though it would be hard to go wrong entirely.
What absolutely should please are the prices. The flatbreads come in three sizes and the price ranges from ₹450 to ₹480 and ₹510 for some of the flatbreads with vegetarian toppings while the non-vegetarian ones start from ₹480- ₹580-₹610. The bowls are ₹400. Most beverages are priced at ₹180!
Before you tuck in, do have a look at the wonderful interiors. Not a large space by general eatery standards, its deli-like look is probably designed to attract the more casual diner who may not otherwise venture inside a luxury hotel for a bite. Soul Pantry is absolutely worth it.
LF Says: ★★★★
Coordinates: Soul Pantry, Asset No. 1, Northern Access Road, Aerocity, New Delhi