The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe And Kitchen – Raided

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Bihari Cuisine, now what the hell is that? All I knew was that they eat lot of Dal Chawal and off late I got to know about Litti Chokha and that is the extent of my knowledge about Bihari Food. For past few weeks, name of ‘The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe And Kitchen’ had popped up a few times, and them serving Bihari cuisine managed to spike up major interest.  So as usual, one Saturday night, a bunch of us got together and decided to raid the place.

As we were about to enter, a lady who is from FED was getting out, and she is from Bihar. She told us that food was good, and she tried Veg Pakodas and Shrimps and can definitely recommend them. Her feedback added to our excitement levels and we eagerly climbed the four floors. Third floor was kitchen, and then the rooftop which is the dining area. 

The ‘Rooftop’ Cafe
The ‘Rooftop’ Cafe
FEDs waiting to be served

The first reaction as we saw the restaurant was “Where is the rooftop?”, “Why are there full height walls and a roof on the rooftop?” What me and others thought rooftop restaurant meant was an open dining area, with only atmosphere separating you and the sky. But alas, Potbelly is a rooftop with a roof, not a partial roof, but roof and walls that would make it a hall (with AC and the works). It does have huge windows and I am sure in afternoons would offer great views too. Coming to décor, the first words that hit my mind was chic – which was now common. It instantly reminded me of few other places that I am regular too. Very acceptable for a café, but in these times, nothing out of the ordinary.

Now it was time to start ordering, and as we were waiting for few other people to join in, we decided to have a look at the drinks menu. Avoiding the shakes, for the sake of our appetites, we ordered Apple Lemonades and Mirch Masala Lemonades. Apple lemonade was brilliant to say the least, which small chunks of apple and mint leaves to it. Thankfully there was no artificial flavor added to it, and the chunks of apple gave it the subtlety that we appreciated.  The Mirch Masala Lemonade though reminded us of Jalzeera and Gol Gappe ka paani. Before we move from the drinks part, here it needs to be mentioned that in later stages of out meal, we also ordered a shake, which was never served. Why? No Clue.

For starters we ordered a Pakora Basket, Parontha Basket (Rs.120 each) and Phish Phingers (Rs.260). Pakoras were quite good, well spiced, well fried. Paronthas were standard and gave no reason to complain, however first surprise of the evening came in fish fingers (Phish Fingers), though as suggested by my non vegetarian friends, it was well done, however the quantity left a LOT to be desired. Apparently no one expected it to have 5 sticks (fingers) only with similar number of potato chips.  And honestly that set the tone for the evening.

Parontha Platter
Pakora Platter
The Phish Phinger Platte
When it came to main courses, 7 of us ordered 3 platters of Litti Chokha, 2 vegetarian platters, 2 non-vegetarian platters and one seafood platter (more like a starter it was).  We ordered:

  • Litti Chokha (Rs. 210) – 3 Portions
  • Makhana Thali (Rs. 230)
  • Maithili Masala Thali (Rs. 230)
  • Gol Mirch Chicken (Rs. 260)
  • Mutton Chaamp (Rs.260)
  • Dehati Fish’n’Chips (Rs.290)
  • Jhinga Machhli (Rs.290) 

And just to complete the list, I am also adding the starters from before.
  • Pakora Basket (Rs.120)
  • Parontha Basket (Rs.120)
  • Phish Phingers (Rs. 260)
PHEW! That looks like a lot of food in 7 people.

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Surprise! Even after having all that food, almost all of us were looking to go out and eat some paranthas at moolchand or IIFT Dhabhas to fill ourselves up. Yup, that is how small the portions were and that is how unsatisfied we all felt.

No one actually liking what they ate does not even matter here because we hardly have any knowledge about Bihari food, and lack of appreciation can be attributed to lack of palette.  However I doubt they eat such small portions. I cannot even start to describe the reaction we had when we were seeing the portions and servings. Dehati fish seemed like a pakora, in finer words fish coated with batter and fried. However people can only appreciate finer flavors of batter and fish, if they ever stopped looking for the fish inside the batter shell. 

Jhinga Machhli

Gol Mirch Chicken

Mutton Chaamp
Vegetarians faired a bit better, mind you only a bit. Before I started writing this, I was planning on recommending Litti Chokha and concluding that I would visit the place again for the same. However I was under the impression that it was priced at Rs.120 per serving. But now when I look at the menu I realize that I was under the wrong impression, and I doubt if I would recommend that as well.

But giving credit where it is due, the Aubergine mashes which were served to us with Litti, paronthas and other dishes were quite amazing. They had brilliant flavors and were done very well. The Chana Dal they served with Litti was mind blowing and was highlight of the evening. I wish they would use that dal with other things as well. Litti was well baked, however I feel that it was quite dry from inside and could have definitely used a longer dip in the ghee. On the other hand Maithali Masala thali which had Paneer-mushroom-peas dish served with puris, had so much oil it in, and that it numbed my senses for a while. The fact that puris themselves were quite oily, did not help my cause at all. 

Makhana Thali

Maithili Masala Thali
Have already mentioned the shake that was never served but that was not our only disappointment from service, which was found considerably lacking. Towards the end someone who seemed to be incharge (owner?) came up to us, asked about our feedback and offered apologies for bad service. He said they were new, learning the ropes and short staffed. This was quite understood and appreciated by our group. However after admitting to lousy service you do not charge the 10% service charge, and that too when the group was evidently not happy. 
Litti Chokha
And the final nail, our bill was Rs.3762 with 10% service charge. Since there was a service charge, I was not looking to leave a tip. I left Rs.3800 in cash and kept waiting at my table for balance, which never came.
Oh! And they did not have any desserts at 9:30 pm on a Saturday evening.

I understand being new and upcoming, however at those prices, you better have your act together before you take the order. 

To stay informed about our outings and other activities please join us on our Facebook Page. For more information about FED Raids, click here.  

Author: Shashank

CFE – Cheap Food Enthusiast Entrepreneur by birth, hippie by heart he is here just because he loves to eat. This adventurous biker is constantly looking for new avenues to satisfy his insatiable hunger for food & life. Though he loves sugar dense food, there is nothing sugar coated about him- brutally honest with his words, he often ruffles feathers with his stark naked opinions about food, fancy restaurants & orthodox ideas.

10 thoughts on “The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe And Kitchen – Raided”

  1. Ending was an Icing on the cake. Owner apologizing for the bad service and in the bill, they charging 10% of the bill as Service Charge … even funny was their assuming that the remaining balance was a TIP for them 😉

  2. Very well written Shashank..And must say PICS hv come out really well..:))As for the food nthng hs xcited me much after looking at them..The way it has been served can be appreciated..

  3. jyada maaza nahi aaya na?In west Delhi,Pankha Road,near Janak Cinema…kuch rehdi wale bihari food banate hain,kaafi rush rehta hai but mujhe jyada acha nahi laga,may be due to taste bugs,nice blog nd superb pics,Thnx

  4. Hi Shashank,

    So our experience a week before was as follows.

    Two of us landed there around 9ish. The place looked nice as we entered but no one was there to seat us, give us the menu, serve water, etc. I might as well have picked up a chair and walked out & no one would have noticed (not kidding).

    One waiter showed up later who turned out to be the only one serving ALL TABLES that day. The Manager (as I saw later) was downstairs at the kitchen supervising the cooking (or that's what it seemed like).

    We first ordered the Pakora Basket & a Cinnamon Ice Tea. The Pakoras were good, especially the round one and I really liked the chutney.

    We then ordered the Litti Chokha and the Maithili Masala Thali. The former was very good. The Litti was perfectly baked. The Dal (and other accompaniments) were equally good. I've not had Litti Chokha before, but my friend who has grown up eating them mentioned it's one of the best he's had outside his hometown. And he's quite particular about the quality of his food in general.

    They mixed up our order and got us the Makhana Thali instead. It was strictly ok.

    Overall, the food was decent and we didn't really find the quantities that small. Maybe it was because it was just two of us, or maybe we were just not THAT hungry.

    We waited for 20 mins for the bill to show up, but it never came. When we finally walked out, we found the manager on the third floor (outside the kitchen). He handed us the bill and asked us for feedback. His explanation for the bad service was that all of his waiters (except one) decided not to show up that day due to some personal reasons. He said usually it's not the case and he has enough staff. Going by your post, clearly he was lying.

    Overall, I'd suggest the place only for their Litti Chokha. Am just surprised that the owners have spent so much money on their interiors, but none on basic staff.

  5. Thanks for the review ! I think climbing 4 floors, all the waiting, average food ( not to forget ordering A and being served D ) and spending all that money for size zero portions DOES NOT justify all the effort !. I was planning to visit soon.. you saved me a disaster :D.

  6. I'm not sure I understand. Is this meant to be a cafe or a restaurant? If it's a cafe, the portions seem fine, I would not expect to be served a huge meal at a cafe. From the photos the portions seem like they would satisfy someone who was feeling peckish in the afternoon and wanting to sit in a nicely decorated place with a view.

    How new is this place? I have seen some horrible mess ups of new restaurateurs with zero experience. But I think I can appreciate what they're trying to do. If the food is actually to some extent authentic (I know nothing about Bihari cuisine), maybe there is still hope… I think it's encouraging that the manager is asking for feedback from apparently all customers. If you enjoyed the taste of the food, it might be worth giving the manager honest advice and you may end up with a decent option if you're ever in the area..

  7. I am quite surprised by this review and I think you need to revisit the place.

    Some comments:

    1. Rooftop doesn't mean open air – in Delhi that would be a disaster! Plus they have a lovely mezzanine balcony which is open.. check that out!

    2. The prices are very reasonable wrt. to restaraunts in South Delhi – you were 7 right? from the picture.. so 500 a head is not expensive. Especially not with drinks, starters and meals.. Goto Hauz Khas Village for expensive!

    3. These are new restaurateurs – I hope you left feedback, they can use it for sure – and as a regular I've seen them improve.

    4. Unfortunate how people reading your review will not experience something unique! Check out the review on Zomato.. more balanced and better written.

    Regards

    Gautam

  8. This post just broke my heart into a million little pieces. My friend and I had been wanting to go to this place since I dunno how many months..and finally two-three days ago we thought, okay, we are going in the next week or something, and then this post. 😐

    It's so crazily expensive!! :O

    And apparently doesn't even taste that good. Sigh.

    Anyway, thank you for the eye opener and warning 😀

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