Oasis in Urbania

To find an oasis in an urban jungle is a delight in itself. That’s the first thought that flashes through the mind as you enter Fio Cookhouse and Bar in Nehru Place, New Delhi. Having experienced Fio before, the serenity is not new but yet, it is all new. I’m twiddling words because the ambiance is really awe inspiring. Ceiling to floor, library style shelving, cookbooks, antiques, cookware and serve-ware adorn the beautiful hardwood shelves. It’s a burst of intellect, European style! I fell in love with the teal cake stands and some of the books; the space is very well used, no false ceiling, plenty of light and plenty of green. Almost makes you pray the food holds up (psst, it did!). The original Fio is nestled in the lush environs of a botanical garden; lavish, al fresco and very bistro chic. The new one is a contrast in terms of styling – brisk and crisp, very business cool which is ideal for the location. Founder/Owner, Vineet Wadhwa has over 30 years of experience in the culinary industry and you can hear stark notes of passion when he speaks. Fio is his baby and he has certainly nurtured it well, the definitive product of experience and innovation!

We started with Vineet’s recommendation, The Cookhouse Salad (395) and the Flamed Feta Salad (375), both of which were good choices for an ‘eater’ like me. I love fresh cheese in salads and this was a generous portion. The Flamed Feta was a salad of bell peppers, cucumber, tomato and olives, with a slab of grilled feta on top; a stellar choice for vegetarians. I loved the herb vinaigrette and if I was on a working lunch, this would suffice as a meal. The Cookhouse Salad was beautifully Mediterranean: goat cheese, cherry tomato quenelles, snow peas, corn, green apple (fab!!), baby greens and figs; I loved the sweet/savoury combination. Our second course was a hand tossed pizza with a topping of artichoke, pickled baby tomato, pepper and green chilli (495). The green chilli is super – slivers, gently roasted, providing a kick for the artichokes, which despite being canned turn out okay if grilled as a topping. For the main course we had Seared Tenderloin Chimichurri (795), essentially a versatile grilled meat sauce from Argentina, Fio’s had thick cut bacon bits. I asked for a medium-well done steak and got exactly that, nicely portioned into medallions, making for no fuss eating. Portion size is pretty good, so order accordingly. We also tried the Olive Crusted Red Snapper (795), a massive portion of fish, nicely seasoned, well cooked and thank God not Basa! I loved the baked aubergines and salsa verde it was served with.

This was a lovely meal, enjoyed with a house made bread basket and their signature mocktails, which we loved. I’m waiting to go back once their bar gets going. Apparently the ambiance in the evening is starkly different, with mood lighting, peppier music and a few grills added to the menu. We completed this marathon afternoon with some of the best desserts I have had in a long time, at least in the comfort food variety, Tiramisu (333) and Banoffee Pie (333), served in adorable mason jars. I suggest you drop in for dessert if you can’t make time for a meal. Fio is such a respite and a delight!

Parul Pratap Shirazi

Parul is a trained Chef, professional food stylist, cook, food blogger and social media strategist. She loves grapes in her salad.