Monday, November 29, 1999

Have your kitsch art and eat it too - at La Ramblas

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Art and food have come togther in a unique gourmet experience at La Ramblas, the new baby of Delhi-based restaurant magnate A.D. Singh. It offers contemporary Indian kitsch art along with a funky Spanish menu of 'tapas and sangria'.The new open air eatery is located at the trendy The Lap Garden at Hotel Samrat in Chanakyapuri in the capital. On offer with 16 different varieties of tapas - Spanish nibbles - are art expositions.On right now is the 'New India Bioscope Co', a series on kitsch aesthetics that combines Bollywood motifs, images, doodles, masks, dolls and public utility symbols like hand-painted rickshaws and auto-rickshaws by Nida Mahmood.Then there is 'Hush Mob', a 360-degree digital art installation shaped like an igloo against noise pollution, by Nida Mahmood and Raul Chandra. 'Telekaleidoscope', a human interaction installation in mixed media by Pushkar Thakur, is also on offer.The Lap Garden accommodates 95 seated covers spread across 10,000 square feet. The space is managed jointly by A.D. Singh and Arjun Rampal.'I wanted to create a bar experience like the Spanish tapas and sangria pubs. I also wanted to make the place more interesting, alive - an arty evening destination where diners could wander around to enjoy a boutique experience,' Singh told IANS.'The idea was to get revellers back to the casual bars with softer wine-based drinks. Art was meant to add flavour of the drink,' he added.Delhi-based sommelier Magandeep Singh said: 'Sangria as an evening bar beverage is attractive in India because it is a wine-based fruity drink that is good for beginners in the upper middle class segment, which has the money to afford a drink.''Indians find it an easy drink because of sweet fruitiness,' Magandeep Singh told IANS.The spread also matches the funky aesthetics of the premises, said chef Nikhil Rastogi. 'We have worked upon our own tapas varieties that will suit the Indian palate without detracting from the authentic flavour,' Rastogi said.While patatas bravas - fried red skin potatoes with pickled spices - and bamiyeh in crushed tomatoes with tomino topping - are in demand in the vegetarian sections, Atlantic smoked salmon and cream cheese sketchetina have captured taste buds in the meat and fish category, the chef said.For kitsch artist and fashion designer Nida Mahmood, 'doing up the space was refreshing'.'I wanted it to be a place where people could chill out and do something different. Very few eateries offer art as value for money. My 'Bioscope...' installations and art are an ode to the Mumbai film poster artists who stopped painting movie hoardings, billboards and posters for at least 15-16 years to eke out their daily livelihood,' Mahmood said.The Hush Mob, she said, was a 'domed igloo with digital images and head-phone music that was a comment against noise pollution'.'It is essentially an entertainment space where even the loudest of music was mute - unheard by outsiders,' co-designer Raul Chandra said.'Telekaleidoscope' near the dining areas is interactive. It absorbs live feeds of guests sauntering across the lawns and nibbling at tidbits and 'refracts them into cubic fragments - resembling flowers'.The installations will be on display for 15 days, following which new artists will be hired to redo the space.'The Spanish theme is a three-month summer affair. We have to think about a new artistic theme for winter,' A.D. Singh said.A meal for two costs Rs.1,600, without alcohol.(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at

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