Aviary is the perfect perch for epicureans

Perched atop Commons at DLF Avenue — which is hands-down the hottest F&B destination in Delhi right now — Aviary Cocktail Nest offers an eclectic menu, and drinks to match.
Aviary cocktail nest has stunning interiors.
Aviary Cocktail Nest has stunning interiors.

With every new restaurant opening, the bar keeps getting higher in Delhi. And, in the case of Aviary Cocktail Nest, not only does it surpass all expectations, the bar is also literally high, the restaurant being perched on the second floor of Commons at DLF Avenue. With an adjoining terrace garden perfect for lovebirds, it’s currently the place to see and be seen at.

The interiors sport an avian theme — no surprises there. The restaurant resembles an aviary, an enclosure for birds but in their natural habitat. The bar counter surrounds a massive tree whose branches are laden with leaves and disco balls. The restroom walls have been brightened up with cheery flamingos.

A selection of cocktails at aviary.
A selection of cocktails at Aviary.

As a restro-bar, Aviary has an extensive drinks menu. Among spirits, there’s an excellent selection of international gins and vodkas, single malts and bourbons, tequilas and cognacs. There’s also a good number of wines. And, true to its name, Aviary Cocktail Nest has an enticing array of cocktails. While all the classics are represented, what stands out is Head Mixologist Ankit Ghawana’s signature cocktail menu. Drawing inspiration from nature, the cocktails have intriguing names like Acidic Rain, I’m Groot, Deforestation, Afforestation, and so on. Each of them has been created with great care by Ghawana — a mixologist to watch — and the presentation is often dramatic. Betel Blush, with a subtle paan flavour, was a standout. It is safe to say that Aviary is where Delhi’s best cocktails come to nest.

Betel blush comes covered with a stamped edible paper, just one of many innovations.
Betel Blush comes covered with a stamped edible paper, just one of many innovations.

They have shisha too, including a stunning fibre optic one which scatters pearls of light all around and all the way up to the ceiling. Although I didn’t try it, the couple on the next table did, and I had a front row view.

At Aviary, equal care has been taken with the food as with the cocktails. I found lots of novel techniques in use and a sharp eye on flavours. After all, it’s all under the watchful gaze of Head Chef Anas Qureshi, an industry veteran.

Brand head and head chef anas qureshi presides over an extensive menu at aviary.
Brand Head and Head Chef Anas Qureshi presides over an extensive menu at Aviary.

A broad range of cuisines is on offer, so there’s something for everyone. I kid you not — you want to eat something, it’s pretty likely to be on the Aviary menu, from chaat (including the now-ubiquitous palak patta chaat) to dim sums to sushi, a range of Indian and international starters, Arabic platters, pastas, pizzas, soups, salads, an Asian section, chef’s specials, European and Indian mains, biryanis, and a sensibly small desserts section. What did I tell you? This is a nest of plenty!

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the stuff I did manage to try but, of course, it’s impossible to do justice to such an extensive menu on a single visit:

Some signature dishes at aviary cocktail nest.
Some signature dishes at Aviary Cocktail Nest.

From the non-veg starters, I tried the Asian Gun Powder Chicken, boneless chicken coated with seven spices and tossed with dry chilli and spring onions, and the Pan-Seared Fish Chilli Bean Sauce, which is self-explanatory, the fish in use being river sole. But the true revelation was the Wasabi Prawns, with just the right amount of hit from the wet wasabi sauce which coated the crustaceans. This is officially my favourite way to have prawns now. And, yes, I ordered seconds. The Kasundi Fish Tikka and Spicy Maple Prawns are also recommended.

I followed these up with some dim sums, all excellent, but a special shout out to the Broccoli & Chestnut and Thai Herb variants.

For the mains, I opted for the Chicken Japanese Katsu Curry from the ‘Chef’s Special’ section. It was competent but not the best I’ve had in Delhi. Perhaps, I could have tried the Lal Maas Tortellini or the Hand-Pulled Tandoori Chicken, both of which sounded appetising and are Chef Anas’s specialities.

The only thing I did not warm to, was the sushi. It was oversized and a bit too fussy, although that may work for others. I would have preferred more petite sushi and elegant, uncomplicated flavours.

Head mixologist ankit ghawana has created a bold cocktail menu.
Head Mixologist Ankit Ghawana has created a bold cocktail menu.

Thankfully, there isn’t much choosing to do when it comes to the desserts, since there are just four: Warm Apple Crumble, Chocolate Fondant, Bread and Butter Pudding and Seasonal Baked Cheesecake. That’s comfort with a capital C. The desserts are presented beautifully, and the portions are generous, so you can just order one and share.

While browsing the drink and food menus, I couldn’t help feeling that all of Delhi’s hottest restaurant trends were represented here. This cannot be a coincidence. It’s more a smart move — and no mean feat to pull off. Chef Anas has his finger on the pulse of Delhi’s diners, and an excellent nose for crowd pleasers.

Aviary's charming terrace garden.
Aviary’s charming terrace garden.

Even on the weekday I visited the restaurant garnered a varied and sizeable clientele. As the evening went on, many of them ended up on the dance floor. From what I can make out from Aviary’s lively Instagram page, it’s pretty packed on the weekends. One reason could be the live bands and DJ sets, playing House, Electronic and EDM, turning Aviary into a high-energy club! With food and drinks to match, it’s the perfect chillout spot for the weekend.

Address: Aviary Cocktail Nest, Shop No. 314-316, Second Floor, Commons, DLF Avenue, Saket, New Delhi 110017; Tel: 9910434898

Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
Food: 8/10
Drinks: 8/10
Service: 10/10
Interiors/Décor: 8/10
Vibe: 8/10
One dish we loved: Wasabi Prawns
One dish that didn’t work for us: Sushi

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