There was a time during my school days at Modern Barakhamba, especially during high school, that Connaught Place would be theplace to hangout. After school hours was mandatory but then bunking and being there added to the marks of the place on another dimension. The chholebhature of Kwality, the cheese sandwich of United Coffee House, the momos of DePauls, the butterscotch shake of Kaventers and the black forest pastry of Wengers were our staple diet much to the chagrin of our mothers. But it’s been a while since one ventured back there, as Connaught Place began losing out to the mall culture and then development work that began during the CWG was not finished till late last year.

All that is suddenly changing thanks to the array of new chic eateries, bars and cafe’s that are opening here. After years of being outclassed by the youngster havens like HauzKhasVillage and KhanMarket, Connaught Place is again becoming a happening place to be. New initiatives like free wifi, better parking facilities and the huge national flag at the centre situated in Central Park adds to this landmark destination.

I recently went to review the newly opened “Vault Café” well located in the f/n block area bang opposite PallikaBazaar. On my way, I checked with a few friends about the place, and most of them had heard about it as the next happening thing and it was also on their wish list. I was excited that I was the first to go there and experience it before they did. After climbing the lovely winding stairs to the second floor where vault café is located, I noticed a vault door.

It was like love at first sight. Or actually, love at first order. It was just amazing and impressive to see the way the interiors have been done. The theme was very well suited and the name of the place was apt. It was actually full of wicked dark private dining rooms having leather sofas and fake wine cellars. The place has indoor and outdoor seating and also private seating for a group of friends or family to hang out and enjoy a private get together. The iron pillars and the huge bar loungewith great seating capacity gave a colonial feel.

The whole place is dimly lit, in tones of red, with walls sportinga brick look. What I liked about the place most was smaller seating areas for individual groups along the side, with entrances as if they lead to a tunnel.

The place was packed which was great considering it was a Wednesday afternoon and chilly so only the adventurous few were sitting outside and you could see the national flag from the terrace.

I was privileged to visit the place with my blogger friends from The writers Collective of India. We ended up sitting at one of the private vault rooms and Vicky ensured that we got to taste mostly all of the wide variety of items that were in the menu. The menu was itself a challenge. When I was going through the menu, I felt that it wasn’t possible that they could actually keep such a global menu and do justice to it.

The menu boasted of a great breakfast menu, National dishes of many countries, Street foods,Continental, Oriental, Mediterranean, Indian and Italian cuisines, north and south American cuisines. I heard that they also have a Sunday brunch.

We started from the appetizers and tasted cocktails prepared by Mohit, a mixologist who has had a great experience working in leading hotels. It was great to see his creativity at play. He served Tropical Thunder, Manhattan,Lavender Cosmo, Old Fashion, Vault no. 1857 and Long Island Iced Tea to name a few.The mixing was very innovative and I liked the use of dry ice.

The starters were mouth watering to say the least. The Mushroom Galauti kebab,veg platter, chicken momos, fish tikka, keemapao were a delight. If one was to come with a group of friends who had different choices in cuisines then this was the perfect place to enjoy a few drinks with great starters over friendly banter.

The main course was equally extensive and we ordered Pork chops with apple chutney and brown sauce, chicken cordon bleu,sizzling periperi chicken, and humus with pita. Each dish was very well presented as can be seen in the photographs. I was amazed with the size of the serving and the quality of the food.

Desserts like the Tiramisu, brownie with ice cream and many others were available for those with sweet tooth.

In the end, we ended up on the terrace enjoying the chilly wednesday afternoon with a cup of green tea and chatting with one of the owner , Umang Tewari who gave us a very patient hearing. While chatting we could see that he was very passionate about what he was doing.

There was attention to detail and the corporate chef Harman Singh has made sure that utmost care is taken and justice is done to each cuisine in the menu. It’s a concept that not many restaurateurs will dare to try out. This is one area where stand alone restaurants are one notch higher than leading hotel chains. Vault Cafe is a great addition to the café’s in the area and we hear that it’s already packed most days of the week. With Connaught place gaining its sheen back this could be the next great hangout for people of all ages. (Pictures courtesy- Vickrham Vicky)