Latitude 28 – A Disappointing First Impression

Scathing remarks at the tiniest of interactions with an establishment are never called for. The entire staff puts in a lot of hard work to bring an idea to life, to put food on your table, right from the chef to the cleaning staff. However, when the establishment in question enjoys something of a legendary lineage with Chef Ritu Dalmia at the helm, higher expectations are natural. And when those expectations come crashing down like a house of cards, disappointment takes over and ruins the experience. Latitude 28 at the upscale Khan Market is one such story of disappointment at first impression.

The décor is nice and warm, menu is enticing, the open salad counter adds a certain charm as well. Serving staff is polite and warm without being overbearing or smothering at any point. However, some amount of attention from them is desirable. For example, it would’ve been nice to at least be served a glass of water when a guest walks in without having to ask for it, especially when it is very early in the day at 12 noon with only 3 tables to wait upon. Within that same premise, it is expected that the staff will not forget an order placed by a guest.

However, it is a minor thing and nothing that someone in their right senses would or should bother about. Especially when one knows how hard people work at a restaurant to keep it running and considering that it might just actually be a one-off case.

Latitude 28, Chef Ritu Dalmia, Khan Market, New Delhi, Friuli Pinot GrigioLatitude 28 and the wine list

Latitude 28 has a decent collection of wines that look thoughtfully selected for the menu. Some excellent options with equally good pricing can be spotted on the menu. Options for “by the glass” wines are plenty and well priced as well. However, storage of wines served by the glass is below par. This innocuous little detail lends a disappointing turn to events.

As soon as a wine bottle is opened and the contents come in contact with outside air, it begins to deteriorate. Wine is a living, breathing drink that continues to evolve and ultimately dies regardless of its pedigree, much unlike a distilled spirit like a whiskey or a vodka. Selling wines by the glass is an excellent option for establishments to move their stocks quickly with decent profit margins that do not pinch the customer’s pocket either. However, when selling wines by the glass, establishments need to keep in mind the guest experience while accounting for wastage.

Friuli Pinot Grigio 2014

Simply plugging the bottle with the same bottle cork that has already been damaged by the corkscrew worm is not the right way to do it. Using a vacuum stopper, which is easily available and quite effective in increasing the life span of an open bottle of wine stored under the right conditions, is a simple enough solution that is overlooked at Latitude 28. As a result a fairly decent Friuli Pinot Grigio 2014 loses the freshness and crispness that is expected of it. A mild oxidation is fairly noticeable for a discerning nose and palate.

Latitude 28, Chef Ritu Dalmia, Khan Market, New Delhi, Friuli Pinot GrigioNow here’s the clincher. Ms. Dalmia is a highly experienced professional who has spent a considerable amount of time in Italy, researching the food and drink of a country that is pretty much like a second home to her. Her kitchen always delivers an impeccable experience for the taste buds in the narrator’s personal experience. So how can an establishment with Chef Ritu Dalmia’s name just replace a damaged cork on a bottle and sell the wine by the glass?

It is a very simple thing, almost trivial for someone who might just want to ‘be seen’ drinking wine with little knowledge of the subject or for someone who is concerned more about the food. But for someone who takes their wine very seriously, it is nothing short of atrocious to see corners being evaded altogether at a premier establishment like Latitude 28.

Having said that, although it was a disappointment to see such a treatment meted out to a good bottle of wine, the experience at Latitude 28 remains a limited one. I’m sure that Chef Dalmia’s signature style will be very evident in the food, which remains to be experienced at another time in the near future. Until then, a little attention to the wine list is perhaps in order.

Jaswinder Singh

I talk, write and then talk some more, usually about humor, wine and food. Creative arts = life. Nutella = bliss. Road warrior. Single, raising a dog, twice drove cross country from Delhi to Mumbai in a tiny car, can clean out nutella jars like no one else. Part time stand-up comic, full time joker.