Spotting a bright and cheery yellow painted door whilst cruising past Defence Colony market, piqued us to halt, and excitedly scurry up a short flight of stairs to grab what may possibly be the best burger in #OurCity. In a little over two months, this petite joint has amassed a loyal tribe of craft burger enthusiasts, a trend last seen with Leo’s Pizzeria. And it never hurts to get a resounding hurrah from none other than Chef Ritu Dalmia – everyone’s culinary hero.
Aku’s BrrGrr Co., the neighbourhood eatery serving quality artisanal burgers is a partnership run by siblings, Akriti and Ankit Malhotra. Their sister, Avani of FLOC (For The Love Of Cake) fame, sweetens up the dessert column on the menu. Akriti swears by the belief – real ingredients taste better, and we ate our way through the menu in response to our body’s carb call (one that rings far too often). We bite into the Beetburg, the one that also earned Stevie’s Recommendation. The patty, cooked to perfection and spiced with restraint, bled slightly onto the bun, signalling freshness; the sweet and crunchy lettuce lent texture, while the Sriracha mayonnaise gave the Beetburg a kick that was well delivered. If only the bun was crispened a bit, the burger would’ve walked straight into the Hall of Fame. Nevertheless, this is the burger our heart beets for.
Chef-owner Akriti’s culinary sojourn kicked off when she interned with Italian fine dining restaurant Diva. She then worked with her sister Avani at FLOC bakery, and continued to harbour a dream of going back to fine dining spaces. “I graduated from Culinary Institute of America and externed at Daniel Boulud’s flagship Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, Daniel,” she shares. We nudge Chef Akriti to share what prompted her to deviate from the fine dining trajectory. She shares, “Upon my return to India, post a brief stint with CAARA, I took up a job at Diva again. Working in their restaurant & catering arm was an immersive learning experience. Whilst the fine dining scene in Delhi is lush, my heart leaned towards casual and honest food. I saw a dearth of small places in Delhi serving decent food and noticed that good burger joints were completely amiss.” Aku’s (what the Chef is lovingly referred to by pals & folks) thus came into being, with Brrgrr being a pun on the French pronunciation of the word.
Continuing our gustatory expedition, we ordered the Truffle Fries which came with more-than-generous amounts of truffle oil. However, a separate visit to the burger bistro, neither saw generous drizzles of the decadent oil, nor the much-desired parmesan assured on the menu. Whilst Aku’s has gotten a great deal of praise from loyalists, they’ve also met many a raised eyebrow upon glancing at the right-side of the menu. “We are a fast, casual space, that serves better quality food relative to other local gems and QSRs (Quick Service Restaurant). Our current pricing is the only way we can keep up with the cost of the ingredients. We use imported bacon and our fresh, house-made meat patties are composed entirely of meat. Even our sauces and pickles are made in-house. Our chefs come from fine dining restaurants, and it was quite a challenge to get them on-board. In fact, when Chef Dalmia saw the prices, she thought they were low. The idea is to serve good food at affordable prices. There’s no service involved, and that’s why we are able to keep the prices as low as they are.”
Our next pick on the burger lust-list, the Chalapeno burger, graced the table carrying a well-grilled chicken, peppers, jalapenos, and a jalapeno spread around its belly. Multiple nods punctuated by grunts get this burger a thumbs up. Continuing our jaunt at this burger joint, we ordered a Vegetarian Poutine and a Clydes-Dale burger. The Poutine, with crispy fries on the edges and a cheesy centre had all the goodness of contrasting textures. However the Clydes-Dale failed to impress as the crispy chicken was sent across sans any A-sauce, as promised on the menu.
As we chat about the early seeds of inspiration, Akriti speaks fondly about her mentor, Chef Ritu Dalmia, “The unfiltered and dynamic diva who empowered me in every way. She gave me ample exposure and an opportunity to interact with Michelin starred chefs while catering abroad. My experience with her greatly broadened my outlook.” Discussing the quality of meats served in restaurants across the city, we move on to chow down The Meister, Aku’s signature lamb burger – one, that has gotten many a diner weak in the knees. The nigh-perfect lamb patty – meaty, tender and succulent – is complemented superbly by appropriately salted bacon, a perfectly-fried egg, and sublime A-sauce. Malhotra revealed the magic about The Meister, “The A-sauce is whipped with house-made Mayo, which is then combined with pickled vegetables, good old Indian kasundi mustard, ketchup, salt, and pepper; the recipe is on our walls for patrons to try out. What really makes this a hot favourite is the way the meat is handled – the use of imported bacon, and a perfectly-fried egg.”
Bellies full, greed-quota generously ticked, carb-call excellently answered, we made our way out sipping a decadent Classic Belgian Chocolate Shake. Often, burger joints lean heavier towards the meat-lovers, but it is commendable how Akriti balances the menu well in the favour of diners across the spectrum. Come vegan, come vegetarian, come carnivore, there is something for everyone at this homegrown burger joint.
Our only advice would be to find the sweet spot on the costings spreadsheet to justify the pricing versus quantity versus quality of ingredient.
#DSSCTopTip: Look out for their soon-to-be-launched menu with seasonal juices and breakfast options.
Head here: Shop No 47, Main Market, Block A, Defence Colony.
Lose wallet weight: INR 800 for two, approximately.