[update: “The Rose” has shut down]
My last visit to Delhi’s so-called upscale Hauz Khas Village (HKV) was on a balmy evening. The road leading to HKV was chock-a-bloc with cars and people waiting to get into the city’s most sought-after hangout, which has the disrepute of running cafes and restaurants without licences. It’s dirty, overcrowded and has these overhead cables dangling in narrow gullies. And yet, we love to go there. Maybe every Saturday night.
And yet, HKV has pleasant surprises too. Like I discovered on a Sunday afternoon.
Pools of sunlight trickled through barriers of glass, encased in rectangular white frames. Outside, a patch of green and sand brown shone bright as children played cricket. A boy, wearing black, lit a cigarette; the smoke inched higher and vanished into the air.
Inside a spacious restaurant painted in white, sat a group of boys and girls talking inanities. Coffee mugs, tea pots clinked. Phones rang, so did laughter.
There’s minimal background music, obvious only in silences. In a corner, sit two bookshelves by a sofa.
A waitress, dressed in blue, sways her body as she walks around the restaurant taking orders. She has a pretty face – dark eyes; long, thin eyebrows; hair tied up in a bun. At the kitchen’s window, she’s placed her petite frame, grinning. I see her smiling whenever I turn left. Above her, on a wide blackboard reads – “Special of the Day – Pork ribs with rice, vegetables”, etc.
Welcome to The Rose, a quaint multi-service guesthouse in HKV, surrounded by forest.
Apart from an art gallery, a spa and a souvenir store, the café at The Rose offers what most of HVK doesn’t – peace and tranquility. There’s no clutter of guests, who indulge in loud drawing-room conversations at restaurants; no harried waiters either, desperate to accomplish their orders. It’s quiet, remote and pleasant.
Now the directions. Just ahead of the fort, to the left is a Hindu temple. Next to it is a passage that is dotted with eateries and houses. Follow that path and few metres down to the left is a white building that has roses emblazoned on its door and windows. There’s no signboard. And that, probably, is a wise decision to ward off unnecessary footfall.
The café opens at 7:30 a.m. every day and the last order is taken around 10 p.m. The menu – “reasonable” by HKV standards – offers a wide variety of pastas and salads. There’s no alcohol, I am afraid.
I didn’t eat anything, but had a glass of fresh juice – which was good – and my Mallu friend savoured a pot of strong black tea possibly to recover from the scrumptious Onam feast at Navedham, a hugely popular south Indian restaurant in the vicinity.
The Rose has a thumbs-up from the press such as Outlook Traveller, Livemint and CNN. Several embassies have approved of this place too, writes the official website. And check out some favourable reviews on Zomato too.
So next time you want to visit HKV to enjoy an evening that is fun-filled and doesn’t make you suffocate in the overbearing crowd, look for this place – patiently. Ask around. And you won’t regret it.