Cyber Hub in Gurgaon finally has its own buzzing Social. God knows the place has needed it, ever since the microbreweries-led revival of Sector-29, the old F&B hub of Gurgaon, began siphoning the buzz out of Cyber Hub. What used to be the go-to destination for all food occasions, be it ‘aaj to meri treat hai‘ to dazzling Delhiites and out-of-towners with Gurgaon’s own international food street, is now a steady, popular restaurant complex that mostly banks on its massive corporate catchment for its daily bread. But more on the relative trajectories of Gurgaon’s two major food hubs some other time.
Social.. <prefix> Social (read like Bond.. James Bond!), is an underrated phenomenon in the contemporary Indian culinary scene. Most restaurants get rated mainly on their food, bakeries on their cakes and confections and so on. Social has taken food and drink out of the equation as the main attributes, instead one goes to Social for the buzz. Their quirky food and drink menu is a critical element of their proposition though, tying the differently themed locations with a common thread.
Cyber Hub Social opened earlier this month – and it is part of the new set of restaurants that are opening up in the Cyber City buildings that ring Cyber Hub. This latest avatar of Social pushes the boundaries of what a restaurant / cafe / bar can wish to look like. As you approach it, a kitschy painted exterior welcomes you, reminiscent of the facade of a Mumbai chawl building with a row of shops below. Below the painted shop signages is a row of balconies out front, with clothes hanging on the line, and chairs and low tables to sit at. These, as one discovers later, are the alfresco smoking tables that the rooms inside give out to. Interesting, huh? One of these shopfronts is also the entrance to Social. As you open the door you walk into a dimly lit, cramped building lobby, with a name-board of the residents on one side, a shelf and a dusty TV-cum-music player on the other.
Take a step and half, and a narrow, dimly lit corridor stretches out on both sides, with room / kholi number boards, and a bulb outside each door. This is when you realise that they’ve taken the theme all the way in! It can be a bit claustrophobic in the corridor, as you walk past the kholis, which are small independent rooms set up as the workspaces that Social provides. The rooms, available in different sizes and layouts, work as small offices with a pretty private feel. On one side, the rooms have the exit to the balcony as well.
The experience is complete when you turn the corner to get to the main restaurant area – the well of the restaurant in from of the bar is brightly festooned and lit up in preparation for a community festival, and you’d think the kholi-wallahs might descend any moment and break into a jig.
It being a Friday afternoon, the aangan of this fancy chawl was packed anyway. A table for 2 was luckily available after a 10-minute wait. On to the food then – we quickly ordered a Kori Roti and a Dhansak. The rice crisps, or the Roti of the Kori Roti was not available, so rice was what that was served with.
The gassi of the Kori Roti was fabulous, thin gravy crackling with the flavour of the roasted ground spices – no wonder they offer unlimited gravy servings of this one. Too bad that the rice portion was fairly limited. The chicken was juicy and tender as well – although I couldn’t help feel that with rice, this dish would have rocked more with a couple of fillets of rawas fish instead of chicken! The serving of onion and achaar is well, quirky, but pointless.
The Dhansak came through when we were halfway through the Kori Rice – I suppose the kitchen is still getting into its groove. Similarly plated and presented, the brown rice seemed to have been cooked with caramelised onion (it definitely tasted that way, our server was too busy to confirm!). The rice looked great, tasted.. ummm.. too sweet – especially for the dhansak gravy, which is not spicy. The dhansak was beautifully done though, with the creamy pumpkin and potato powered gravy carrying a gentle aroma of spices and the mutton. And the mutton – aah, it was wonderfully tender and delicious. The overly sweet rice was an unfortunate partner on the plate though. The salad and the pickle? Unwarranted. I’d prefer a papad!
Once we were done, there was no delay in getting the bill – the chawl-wallahs were continuing to line up you see! You should definitely go (we plan to be back there soon) – keep in mind that Social works better when you are feeling more social, in other words, have a large group and are going at a more alcohol friendly time!