It’s food for the soul at Soul Pantry, Andaz Delhi’s cheerful bistro which has returned in a spruced-up avatar after the pandemic.
It’s a cheery, sun-filled space, with a tiny plant at every table. The message is subliminal but clear — this is not your usual hotel café. But then Andaz Delhi has never followed the herd when it comes to its food and beverage offerings or, for that matter, anything else. Its main restaurant, Annamaya, was conceptualised along the lines of a European food hall. Hong Kong Club, which had to close after Covid struck, was hands down the best Chinese restaurant in the city. Juniper Bar has a progressive cocktail programme based on inventive in-house infusions as well as drinks inspired by the Chinese zodiac.
So my expectations with Soul Pantry were definitely high. This health food café had opened promisingly before the pandemic, had to shut and has now returned with revamped interiors and a new menu. Do note that it is in the Hyatt Delhi Residences block, so if you arrive in Andaz’s main lobby, prepare for a long walk through the property to get there — which may not be such a bad thing given the café’s health theme.
There are two things I liked about the menu right away: it has a cheerfully visual design…and it’s compact. The colourful graphics get the health vibe going while the short list of items cuts the clutter and confusion. What a great way to start the day.
I started mine with a healthy drink, promisingly named ‘Weight Loss’. Made with bitter gourd, lemon, celery and pear, it tasted much better than you’d expect with those ingredients. The Andaz magic at work again? My host Anum Ajani, Marketing Communications Manager, Andaz Delhi & Hyatt Delhi Residences, chose her regular, the heftier ‘Alligator’, a smoothie made of avocado, chia seeds and honey. Since she did not have anything else after, I’m assuming it’s a meal in itself. The café has the usual range of teas and coffees, as well as the trendier cold brews and kombuchas. There’s wine and beer too, should you be that way inclined. Since the café is open till late, I’m guessing the alcoholic drinks are targeted at the homeward-bound office crowd, not the yoga-mat wielding early risers.
The food itself celebrates health and many of India’s indigenous grains, like finger millet, amaranth, buckwheat and so on. Flatbreads are a highlight of the menu and, no, they are not the same as pizzas. Although, should you desire, the same toppings can be had on a sourdough pizza base. The flatbread bases also come in a range of healthy options, with a decent percentage of indigenous grains mixed in.
Apart from that, there are salads, open sandwiches, burgers, gyros, quiches and some healthy desserts — classic café fare, executed effortlessly to perfection.
The Pumpkin Arugula and Artisanal Quinoa salads looked tempting but I chose a Baked Camembert Salad instead. An entire roundel of cheese had been baked gently to the right amount of ooziness and sat in a bed of salad greens. As you can imagine, it was pretty filling.
Not to be deterred, I followed this up with a Jaipuri Spiced Lamb Flatbread, with 100 percent buckwheat as the base. In retrospect, that base can only appeal to hardcore health food devotees. Us lesser mortals should stick to more accessible bases like ‘20% finger millet’ and ‘35% amaranth’. The topping was great nevertheless and the portions manageable . Flatbread topping options at Soul Pantry also include fresh molten burrata, spicy pulled chicken; even banana hazelnut for the perennially sweet toothed.
The desserts are definitely sharing portions. I had an Avocado Chocolate Cake. This keto-friendly creation is flourless and relies on avocado for its moisture and texture. It was a tad dry, so it’s best to wash it down with a nice coffee. I did not try the cookies on this visit, but I’m a big fan of Andaz’s efforts in that department and can recommend them whole heartedly.
Incidentally, the restaurant is managed by an all-women team led by Chef Shyantika Guha, who has previously worked at The Oberoi and The Park Hotel.
Soul Pantry hopes to attract a regular clientele from nearby offices in Aerocity and in the Residences building. I know all you health-food bunnies are very excited. I for one am glad for a healthy food option in Aerocity and that too at reasonable prices.
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
Drinks (where applicable): 7/10
Soul Pantry, Gate 5, Andaz Delhi, Asset No. 1, Northern Access Road, Aerocity, New Delhi 110037
Opening Hours: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
To make reservations: +91 11 4903 1234