By Radhika Bhirani
There is a nip in the air, but the nailbiting cold is gone. Just perfect for you to soak in the sun or bask under a starlit sky while feasting on tepenyaki grills, dimsums and other delights at the capital's many outdoor restaurants and cafes.
Be it the roadside dhabas, the al fresco cafes or the chic, upmarket barbecue and grill joints -- open air settings are wooing dining and wining enthusiasts readily.
Rajat Bahl, a foodie and budding hotelier, says: "I just love open air restaurants. Enjoying good food in fresh air makes me feel close to something natural and real, and the weather is perfect..it is the icing on the cake."
To cater to a market of such enthusiasts, the capital has a good platter of places that offer the casual, the chic, the romantic, the classic setting for outdoor eating - Terrace In The Sky, Mamagoto, Newscafe, Arthouse Mocha, Lighthouse, Veda, Amici, The Potbelly, Lodi - The Garden Restaurant, Gourmet, Q'ba, Amour, Circa, Magique, Setz, Market Cafe, Smoke House Deli to name just a few.
"People nowadays prefer to enjoy the outside atmosphere sitting around the poolside or gardens and enjoy al fresco dining. This sudden interest has propelled many to opt for open air restaurants for outings," A.D. Singh of Olive Bar & Kitchen Restaurant said.
According to Sammer C. Gogia from Harem, Garden of Five Senses, the charm of an outdoor setting is something else.
"At restaurants and cafes providing both indoor and outdoor seating options, it's not surprising to see that most customers prefer outdoor seating. It is because people get bored of sitting in a closed environment, and outside, people enjoy nature...also customers prefer the relaxed and informal atmosphere an outdoor setting provides," Gogia said.
The hectic lives that most people lead today keeps them away from soaking in the pleasures of good weather.
But outdoor eating places and chill out zones makes it easier, says Aashita Relan, director of Royal China, a partly open air restaurant in Nehru Place here.
"Indians have become so busy in their work and normal routine life that they don't get enough opportunity to just relax and enjoy the weather. Eating at outdoor places gives them time to savour some fresh air," said Relan.
Restaurateurs are going innovative to offer the best settings possible. Some make use of fireplaces and angeethis, while some let their customers smoke flavoured hookas for leisure and pleasure during this weather.
"An ideal setup for an open air restaurant should have loads of couches, comfortable big chairs, cushions, a good view, correct lighting and ideally a waterfall. The ideal menu would include more of snacky items which are easy to pick and eat like pizzas, dimsums, sushi etc as opposed to items full of gravy," suggested Relan.
Tanvi Trehan, a franchisee partner of Smoke House Deli, Chandigarh, says the appeal of an open air restaurant is universal.
"The ideal menu for such a space is an all-day cafe style offering with gourmet yet casual options. Whether one chooses to have a leisurely meal taking in the weather outside or just grab a quick coffee to feel refreshed, the menu should be something quick yet wholesome.
"A colourful and eye-catching presentation is also favourable as it offsets the outdoor mood," she said.