Leading adman and artist Freddy Birdy is also a well-known word muralist. A sampler of his “text paintings”, adorning the walls of Delhi's new casual dining restaurant 'Plate', include saucy flashes of wit like ‘what I want for breakfast in bed is you' or ‘Her favourite thing to make for dinner was a reservation’.
At the Asian casual dining and bar The Kimono Club — located in Lutyens' Delhi —Freddy has shied away from words. Instead what you get are old world, baroque-style paintings and stained glass mirrors reflecting the vintage glamour of huge, shiny disco balls. For TKC aims to capture the discreet allure of 1920s Paris with the buzzy bright lights of modern-day Shanghai, Bangkok and Hong Kong. When asked to paint a textual personality of the restaurant in his trademark style, Freddy says The Kimono Club is “ Modern. Sexy. International. Chic. Fun. Exciting. Over the top. Slightly Crazy. Pulsating. A frisson of the old and new. Madness.”
With cucumbers from Israel, wood ear mushrooms from Japan and lobster from the Andamans, TKC sure does dish out an exciting palate of delectables. And your seafood hungering can be easily satiated. With a range of signature dishes in soft shell crab, black cod miso, river sole fillet, Tamari glazed sea bass, sous vide duck and jumbo prawns, richly seasoned in all kinds of house soy and teriyaki, TKC is not afraid to revel in exaggeration.
The splendid Ponzu soy, tart and tangy with wok-tossed smokiness, is used liberally in carpaccios and stir-fries. Each cut in the duck carpaccio is seasoned to perfection. The stir fry pork sticks out as a somewhat regular choice in the midst of its peers, but the tenderloin asparagus is comfort food, redolent and warming. The tofu steak in teriyaki sauce, when served with Kerala red rice and braised seasonal mushrooms, is a vegetarian sublimation of gustatory divine. Its crisp shell cracks to yield soft, dense, toothsome tofu. The Kimono old fashion is a cocktail à la Tokyo Rose, simple and sleek to see and sup. Just avoid the misadventures “aerated tofu cheesecake”.
TKC comes from restaurateurs Ashish Dev Kapur and Joydeep Singh, known for popular dining and entertainment destinations like Whisky Samba and The Wine Company in Gurgaon, The Wine Rack in Mumbai and Antares in Goa. The modern Asian bar and restaurant also have a 40-foot whisky bar at one end, offset with an expansive wine wall on the other. But if going to the bar counter is too much effort, there is a hefty little goth-style metal box on every table — a ‘call-for-champagne’ buzzer meant to beckon trolleys loaded with odds and ends to make the perfect champagne cocktail. Think Negroni Redux and passion fruit cordial.
The dark red interiors with large floral patterns and gaudy lights do manage to recreate an opulent, giddily wasteful vibe of the roaring twenties. So much so that the ongoing theme is “Geisha Calling” with “supermodels” expected to entertain guests by fluttering around two large velveteen swings hanging from the ceiling. Is this going a bit too far in today's age when Gatsby-style decadence is much too passé?