Six years ago, a young couple left their plush jobs of brand consultant and banker and the comforts of Dubai because they wanted their children to be close to the hills. Within two years of moving to Chandigarh, their idea of a ‘brunch place’ was realised in the form of Whistling Duck – a fine dine space rooted in our culture but with an international appeal. Say hello to the dynamic Mehrotra couple, Ambar and Ragini, who not only splashed their names across the culinary landscape of Le Corbusier’s city but are also shining in the gourmet expanse of the capital city with W.D. House. #DSSCReviews the latest outing of the epicurean crusaders and catches up with co-owner, Ambar to decode their journey.
Whistling Duck flies from Chandigarh to Delhi
The minimalist interiors and unique architectural details of W.D. House is what distinguishes it from it’s older sibling, but the philosophy of mixing unusual flavours with a strong emphasis on regional cuisines remains intact. “Whistling Duck has enjoyed phenomenal response and recognition, which inspired us to come to a bigger city like Delhi. But instead of replicating an existing product, we allowed ourselves to be challenged by the ever-changing market and our own ambition to create something new. With W.D. House we want to not only match the best in the industry but also be future ready.”, shares Mehrotra. Backed with three years of success, the Mehrotras set out to share their story in new locations with their first stop being Delhi. “We’ve had people come from different parts of the world, encouraging us to bring Whistling Duck to where they live. We plan to be in Mumbai by next year.”
A walk through the walls
The white walls of this unpretentious building invoked a sense of calm (and wonder) as we walked in. Architect Saurabh Dakshini’s interpretation of modernism shines through in the large windows and pristine walls adorned with black & white photographs. The Chandigarh-inspired cane chairs and single flower on the table lend an old-world charm and warmth to the establishment. Mehrotra shares the experience of working with Dakshini, “Saurabh is very quick to understand the brand positioning and helps articulate that not only in the space but also in elements that fill up that space.” The team has created a space that is luxurious yet unimposing.
The five levels of the building house a store that will offer curated list of products ranging from stationery to food items to glassware (more details on the inauguration soon); two dining spaces, one of which includes a glass-walled kitchen, a performances area, and terrace.
Experience the World
W.D. House celebrates each ingredient and it’s uniqueness while drawing inspiration from different geographies. This multi speciality restaurant showcases an offbeat menu that has influences from regional Indian, South Asian, and European cuisines. When asked about the inspiration that crafted the menu, Ambar shares, “The thought behind the composition of this menu was actually very simple. Very often when we’re dining out, we debate about what cuisine to choose, and seldom do we have an unanimous decision. So we asked ourselves – why does a formal dining place have to be restricted to one specific cuisine?”. With nothing stopping them, the team spearheaded by Chef Richa Johri undertook this ambitious journey. “After months of explorations, conversations, trials, selections, rejections, retrials I think we have a great product on our hands,” states Ambar. Chef Richa, supported by her team, has mustered her beliefs and passion to master the cuisines across the world.
Excited to get a first hand experience of the bold menu, we get seated and are presented with an old-school file a.k.a the menu. The menu too carries forward the clean lines of the architectural elements and the philosophy of letting the ingredients shine. The bevy that first caught our eye was the Jamun & Dill Matha, and boy are we glad it did! The refreshing concoction of the Indian blackberry, spices, and sweet notes enveloped by yoghurt bowled us over. As we moved on to our appetizers, hands down the favourite on the table were the Edamame Dumplings. This perfectly balanced combination of steamed beans, radish, truffle oil, and broth is something we would come back for no matter the season or time of day.
One of our favourite meals was the Indonesian-influenced Minang Curry paired with the beautiful Roti Jhala, or lace pancakes. The smooth curry was an harmonious amalgamation of coconut and the pemasak spices. It’s crisp partner, Roti Jhala that literally translates to ‘net bread’ was full of oomph and elevated the whole meal. Another delightful plate was the Chicken and Amaranth Saag Curry with Dhuska. The zing of the mustard and mellowed by dhuska, the deep fried disk of rice and split chickpeas flour. The bread is a common table-gracer in Jharkhand, especially popular during festive times. Paired with the succulent and flavoursome chicken at W.D. House it truly brought about a celebration.
Head over to W.D. House, 80, M Block Market, Greater Kailash 2 New Delhi and lose wallet weight equivalent to Rs. 3,500 for two (approx.).