The walls of The Pantry Fort are drenched in soothing tones of pastel green and cream, emitting a sense of calm and tranquility which washes over me as soon as I bustle in and take a seat, ready to engage in an afternoon of people-watching and tasting, incognito.
The simple, uncluttered decor is well-matched – ivory lace doilies masquerade as curtains, enough to let in light but also visually appealing.
Although it is tucked away on the same strip as a million other eateries, The Pantry Fort doesn’t seem to suffer from the close proximity of competition – within 20 minutes it goes from being half-full, to hold onto your hats, overflowing with people.
I am greeted pleasantly and not an eyelid is batted at my overwhelmingly large order for one.
The slow-cooked roast lamb wrap catches my eye and I place an order.
This method of preparing lamb involves four hours of cooking time, which results in meat which is rendered succulent in its tenderness, flaking easily under the fork and falling off the bone.
I wonder if it really is prepared as described.
The wrap consists of a toasted roti which sheds flakes with each bite; the interior houses well-lubricated chunks of lamb with tangy resonances of red pepper and onion.
I’m pleased to note the generousness of the meat and its relative tenderness, which leads me to believe the lamb has been slow-cooked for at least two hours.
This is a personable dish which has been tweaked to Indian tastes, if not slightly oily.
Did I just see Spanakopita on the menu?! Hell yeah!
I’m eager to test if the cafe has managed to nail this traditional Greek savoury pastry.
The Pantry’s interpretation is presented as a mini-pie rather than a square or a roll, which means the usual filo pastry used lacks the flakiness one is accustomed to with spanakopita.
The taste however, is absolutely flawless, the balance of the creamy fetta and spinach makes for a dish which is warm and crumbly.
The accompanying mustard and tomato salsa was clearly added to cater again to the Indian palate, however I find it redundant for this dish and push it aside.
Tomato sauce is the object of my disdain; I believe its injudicious use dumbs down delicate flavours, desensitising the wonderfully complex human palate with its 10,000 tastebuds.
Nevertheless, it is quite impressive that this unassuming little cafe does international cuisine better than most; the care and preparation put into the dish is tastefully evident (oh, stop it).
The pulled pork sandwich is underwhelming in size and light on ingredients – the dominating flavour is that of the oversized white bread roll, from which I recoil.
A few shards of red onion do little to contribute to any semblance of flavour, apart from the now ubiquitous masala tones.
Perhaps more meat could have been added to bulk up the interior.
The vegetable stew is hale and hearty, with citrus tones of lemon which go neatly in hand with a light smattering of chilli, whose carefully measured presence (I am pleased to note) does not dominate the entire dish.
Zucchini, leek and carrot dance around in cheery unison while the sourness of the lemon works to marvellously cleanse the sinuses.
I finish every drop and lick the bowl clean.
The accompanying garlic bread is a little too hard around the edges, indicating a lack of freshness.
The lemon yoghurt cake has a soft yet sturdy base piped with lemon icing which is overpowering in taste.
Gooseberry jam on the side reduces the piquancy of the lemon, but sends the flavour soaring in the opposite direction, infusing it with sweetness which borders on extreme.
The fare at The Pantry Fort is surprisingly light – in spite of the vast amount of dishes sampled, there was no usual bloated feeling of having overeaten.
The wallet was also left smiling, with the bill rounding out at just under 1500 INR – affordable indeed.
The service is quick and efficient with staff well-trained and knowledgeable.
Service 10, Food 8.5.