Headlines change every day, each as shrieking as the next, foretelling the end of times, the conclusion of an era and other descriptors I am too old and or lazy to look up. Because, I was young the first time I remember going to the India Habitat Centre (IHC), and then, as of a few months/eons ago (time has no more meaning since the pandemic), there was the comfort of familiarity.
Downstairs on the ground floor there were Eatopia and the All-American Diner, while upstairs were Oriental Octopus, Delhi ‘O’ Delhi, and The Deck in what I recall as ascending floor order. These places are no longer there, but the spaces remain. As anyone in Delhi with the most passing knowledge of social media knows, these properties are no longer there. There has been outrage and more, as duly reported by other organisations. But as my therapist keeps saying, let’s dig a little deeper.
Old World Hospitality, which held the contract of F&B at IHC for many a year, is no longer associated with the establishment, meaning the names that used to roll off Lutyens Delhi’s tongue are missing. What’s not missing is the indelible mark they’ve left on the Capital’s culinary landscape.
“We have received huge outpourings of love from so many people when they heard that we had closed The All American Diner at the India Habitat Centre location. Yes, that is true since Old World Hospitality’s contract to run the Hospitality and Cultural facilities at India Habitat Centre is over,” shares Rohit Khattar, Chairman, Old World Hospitality, adding in his statement, “While we created several iconic restaurant brands at Habitat World, IHC, The All American Diner truly occupies a special place for all of Delhi and also in our hearts. We carry wonderfully warm memories of our tenure at IHC.”
And it was not just The All American Diner. I have always loved the Oriental Octopus because of their crispy fried vegetables and the fact that Chef Manish Mehrotra started his journey to becoming the face of Indian food there. So yes, there is a lot of nostalgia for a lot of people. Now that IHC is managing its own dining, as institutions are wont to do, we look forward to the next wunderkind culinarian coming out of there. But, those memories remain.
However, not all is lost. “We are not going to start a Mexican restaurant in the space Delhi O Delhi was. Since it’s had a certain legacy, we are going to continue showcasing Indian cuisine, with a less Delhi-centric approach. Similarly, Habitat Hub (formerly known as The All American Diner) will now feature all-day breakfasts from all around the world,” elaborates Sunit Tandon, Director, IHC, musing, “Shakshuka is really popular these days, so that’s on the menu, among breakfasts from around the world. And the whiskey we pour at the bar is still whiskey. You cannot really change that sort of stuff.”
Speaking of changing stuff, you are still going to be seeing most of your favourite and or familiar staff when you visit these old haunts in their new avatars. Many of those who worked there back then will remain in the new places that are now. And so, even though things have changed, some things remain the same. “We are working hard so that our members and visitors appreciate and grow to love our re-imagined spaces and their offerings,” signs off Tandon.
Stay tuned for more openings.