38 Barracks - emulating the life and lifestyle of an army man in the heart of the city at Connaught Place. Why 38? As it is at M-38 where you'd find this establishment that boasts of a different world altogether - a Colonel's house is what it showcases - with marked areas as Drawing Room, Locker Room, Balcony and such. 38 also because army men are good with their numbers and addresses. 38 lends a specificity to the theme that 38 Barracks is based on, a trivia that was told to us by Mr. Ankur Agarwal, whose brainchild 38 Barracks is.
Incidentally, the army man who inspires 38 Barracks met Ankur on a train journey to Shimla. Interesting how acquaintances with strangers (a decorated stranger in this case - a Colonel) can sometimes provide the spark for a fire, a fire to showcase the best of a world that is taken for granted - the life of an Indian soldier.
It was then that Ankur took the onus on himself to establish 38 Barracks as a tribute coming from a civilian, for an army man. The feel of being in a cantonment area of sorts reflects from the time that you enter the premises. Military collectibles and memento adorn every nook and corner of the space. Take for instance, the clothes rack for coats, ties, hats etc. that is seen to your right when you enter the restaurant to the luggage that is kept in a corner towards the left.
From guns to medals to monochrome photographs of army men and their families to old phones, clocks, cameras, and books to a gun that hangs atop their bar and has a surprise element coming from a paper-smith, 38 Barracks aces it in the decor department right away. As for the ambiance, it was well-lit with music playing in the background.
Before we begun with the meal, Watermelon Amouse Bouche was served as a palate cleanser.
Tried their classic Narangi and Kala Khatta Buntas, and as is the case, the drink in the bottle with a marble served as a good beginning.
Also had their Sergeant and Military Camp mocktails mid way through the meal. While Sergeant was a good mix of Khus, Pineapple, Lime and Soda (with a topping of pineapple on the side), it was the presentation of Military Camp that was fantastic. And, its taste too, I must say. Orange, Peach, and Grenadine filled into a bulb served in wide-mouthed bowl of fuming Nitrogen.
For appetizers, we had:
Olive Chicken Satay - Savory chicken served on skewers glazed with sauce and grilled to perfection. Ordered a second serving.
Masala Bhutta Tartlets - Corn and Onion sliced in a tart, served with salad and dip, and topped with mint. One burst of flavor in the mouth.
Chicken Harissa Tikka - Soft, succulent Chicken Tikka that was delicious.
Beetroot Galouti - Chef Gautam's personal favorite, I loved how the dish was crisp on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth on the inside.
Apart from the above, also tried a few starters from their existent menu, namely:
Chicken Duet Tikka - Two types of Tikkas, thus Duet, glazed in a clay oven.
Clash Of Clans - In Ankur's words, this one depicts English and Indian armies at War, with Fish and Chips on one side of the platter and Ajwaini Mahi Tikka on the other. Accompanied by French Fries and Mint Chutney respectively.
Soldier's Mirchi Vada - Served with sweet and savory Date Chutney, this one scored with the mere size of the battered Chili.
Battalion Samosa Booster - Most vibrant, colorful presentation with Samosas filled with Keema on a bed of Keema Chaat and sprinkled with Sev, Anaar, accompanied by three dips, this one was delightful.
Gosht Ki Galauti and Ulte Tawe Ke Paranthe - Again melt-in-mouth Galouti.
Chicken Krawpao Pizza - Cheese and Chicken is a combo that can never go wrong. Add to it a full-size olive in the center of the dish.
Next up was Main Course comprising the following:
Rara Soya - Soya Chaap with a twist, served with home-like Dal, and topped with coriander and mint.
Murg Banjaara - Not just Murg, but the entire platter, consisting of Murg, Dal Makhni, Salad, Poppadoms and Mint Chutney with an array of Indian Breads.
Bekti Fish - Fillets layered with Zucchini and Mushroom, served along side Potato Mash and Mayo Dip.
Three-Tier Sandwich - As the name suggests, Three-Tier, with a filling of Chicken Salami and Egg, Lettuce and Onion, served alongside Fries, Salad and Dip.
Brought a flavorful and filling meal to a close with Brownie Sundae with Ice-cream and their in-house shakes - Barracks Frappe and Chocolate Brownie, which had life-size chunks of Brownie and not mere flavor. Both of these were also thick and creamy in their consistency.