Diggin, a café in Santushti Complex, New Delhi, is a delightful enclave for a restful afternoon. Tucked into a leafy enclave of this serene shopping complex, Diggin provides an experience that’s genteel. It also provides great buzz and ample parking. And who can complain about the last detail!
The outdoor seating is invariably full for lunch and, as the temperature climbs, pedestal fans can be moved around to direct the breeze your way. Diggin is a must-visit for the diner who enjoys a casual chic lunch with an eclectic group of diners. On the day I visited, there was a member of parliament with his family, scattered tables of college teens, a bunch of backpacking expats, a few young businessmen, among others. The menu is well-priced—under Rs 1,200 (note: Diggin doesn’t serve alcohol).
The menu is what one would find at a diner. That and the price point make it very popular with the young. There are iced teas (peach and lemon), mocktails and the signature thick milkshakes (the Oreo milkshake is a must-try). The appetiser section is presumably a strong point. Here is a restaurant that doesn’t rush you, it’s quite comfortable with you snacking over appetisers and spending time there or even substituting it for a meal.
The jalapeno poppers and fried zucchini sticks with dips served in candy-striped paper are popular bites. The table set-up is functional—condiments on display and overturned fresh plates to keep flies at bay, and these are already placed on the table when you arrive.
Diggin has a well-balanced menu. There aren’t too many healthy options. There are salads, but they are served whole-meal size and loaded with accruements; most of the food is comfort food. Extensive listing may be found in the pasta section. From a baked penne to a smoked salmon fettucini, the offerings go from simple to haute, and a quick glance around will prove that the most popular entrées are the pastas. And the pizzas as well. If you like the American-style thin crust, with petite toppings that leave you feeling light after lunch, the pizzas here are a good option.
Diggin exists on a very busy dining landscape. Santushti was once a buzzing shopping destination, where the city’s well-heeled went to dine and shop. This was in more innocent times and, since then, the ‘scene’ has changed. Hauz Khas became the designer destination for a while. Its quaint, narrow streets and tumbling heritage monuments recalling a sanitised Old Delhi experience, not to mention bistro-style dining. Hauz Khas Village has since undergone yet another makeover from its designer days, becoming a dining destination mostly frequented by tweens and the party-going crowd. Khan Market, always gentrified and a diplomat’s hub, now has company in neighbouring Khanna Market, which has quickly replaced its tailoring and grocery stores with boutiques and bespoke cafés.
Santushti Complex, with its prime location, however, continues on, just the sheen from its glory days has dulled. Diggin is reminiscent of some of that old glory. Although located in a quiet shopping complex, few shoppers will be found dining here. Most people who come here, come for the restaurant, lured by its quiet, unself-conscious chic. Its price point is not prohibitive. It doesn’t insist you pay for its prime location. The entrées are priced in the range of a comfortable `450 or so, making it value-for-money, but also an experience worth returning to.
Another charming aside: the mint-flavoured water that is served and refilled leaves a lingering, pleasant memory on your palate. It just might be this unpretentiously chic restaurant’s unintended signature.
Advaita Kala is a writer, most recently of the film Kahaani. She is also a former hotelier having worked in restaurants in India and abroad