Malcha Marg is a location that raises a lot of expectations. The restaurants that have been and that are there have all set the bar a little high. Schengen which is a deli, bistro and pub in one does nothing to minimize those standards. You enter the restaurant and immediately notice the tastefully done interiors.
The first floor is a deli, the second floor is a bistro and the third floor is a pub. They all share the same design aesthetics – minimalist white interiors with artifacts on the walls. We went to the first floor which has a an amazing open area with gravel on the floor, the branches of a massive tree above and a wood fired oven in the back.
The first item on the table was the rocket, apple and walnut salad. The rocket leaves with balsamic dressing had chunks of parmesan which was complete by itself. However, the best thing about the salad was the walnut brittles that were tossed into the salad.
The soup was hearty chicken soup that came with minced chicken balls in classic veloute sauce. I never had a hot soup that came with a slice of lemon and that added whole new flavor to the soup. The rich meaty stock coupled with the acidic juices were like two opposing forces meeting halfway on your tongues. It was a a little too meaty for me, but someone with more inclination towards meat would love it.
Next on the table was the saffron and sumac crusted chicken skewers with lemongrass hummus. Coming to the skewers, the meet was soft, the layer of spice were enough to complement the chicken but not too strong to overwhelm it. The hummus was nice, but the pita breads will catch your eye. They were tiny, soft and came in a cute basket of their own. Every plate came with a house salad of its own, this one had lettuce, cherry tomatoes and olives. The mismatched things came together in some strange way and one could repeat the order for the whole meal.
Spanokopita – that’s what came next. I didn’t know what it meant and didn’t know what to expect. So, when this delicate arrangement came on the table, I was happy just to stare it for a few seconds. Spanokopita is a baklava like dish that has spinach at the center and layers layers of thin flaky dough (phyllo in greek) around it. It was surrealy light, flavourful with feta and ricotta, crumbled at the touch of teeth and needed no chewing. It came on a bed of sauce with a dip and house salad on the side. Honestly, this dish needed no crutches or support.
Finally, it was time for the pizza. The chef had a massive white rolling pin. A guy tended to the oven every now and then – adding wood, stoking the fire, sweeping the insides of the oven with a broom. I had been waiting to see how good the pizzas could be. When it came on the table, it was massive, paper thin and loaded with pepperoni, bacon, chicken, meatballs, smoked anchovy, chicken sausages and artichokes. With all that on a pizza, one felt like a shameless capitalist that had cornered an unfair amount of wealth. The crust was thin and crispy at the edges and was heavy and drooping at the other end. I have had thinner pizzas at Piano Man in Vasant Vihar but the crush should have some substance too and this one had just the right amount. A perfect pizza slice, when you hold it up, will aptly demonstrate gravity. This one passed the test.
For dessert, we had a double chocolate mousse and a Tiramisu. The mousse was good, came with almond brittles but given the rest of the meal, nothing to talk long about. The Tiramisu came with a macaron in childlike plating. It was moderately sweet, supremely creamy and the texturally different layers made all the right sensations in the mouth.
The word perfect may sound too cold and distant. Sitting under a tree, soaking in the warm afternoon sun, playing with the gravel with your feet and taking close to three hours for a lunch – go find another fitting word for it.