Talking to Restaurant India Prateek Arora, Co-Founder talks about fresh and local ingredients.
QLA started as a manifestation of the long standing dream for Prateek and Ranjan of owning a restaurant. The idea was conceived post a jam session and a bottle of wine. The whole motto was to have a place that is about great food, great wine and great music. Excerpts from the interview:
Why Qutub as a location?
The plush green setting along with a courtyard was the right combination for the kind of experience we wanted to offer to the guests. It is an open air European courtyard blended into a heritage building in the historic neighbourhood of Mehrauli.
It is very important for a diner to find a memory, connect and story in a cuisine or food. How do you build that at QLA?
We wish that Qla is an experience where you feel like you are taking a piece of the place back home since you had a great time. We'd like that as a guest, you miss the warmth and the happiness that the place has to offer and come back every time you are missing this home away from home. Our food is comforting, complemented by an equally comforting wine and drinks program that makes every meal special. While a lot of places focus on the food or the beverage part of things, we lay equal emphasis on a well-rounded experience that has both food and beverage as the stars of the show.
Your offering is a mix of French, Italian, Spanish and Scandinavian influences. How difficult/easy it is to serve multi-cuisine?
While the cuisine is European, the influences can come in from anywhere. Living in India, it is a challenge to source the ingredients that make up such a cuisine, especially because seasonal produce is not readily available. However, thanks to the changing landscape of local farming and revival of some of the Indian grains, pulses & spices, there is more room to experiment. Local cheese and improved meat packing facilities are also helping expand what we can serve on the menu.
Tell us something about the ingredient. From where did you source it?
We get cereals, pulses and grains from local farmers with the exception of arborio rice which comes from Italy. Cheeses are sourced from different parts of the world while vegetables are all fresh and at times sourced from the hills depending on specific requirements.
You have got varied beverages options with unusual yet so flavorful with comprehensive range of cocktails with fresh ingredients and a wine list with depth that spans a host of countries and grapes around the world. What are some of the top loved beverages options?
In cocktails, we have some unique concoctions like Vulgare John (a smoked pineapple based drink), Honeydew Cilantro and Chewy Orange. These are also some of the most loved options. Besides that, our eclectic wine collection (which changes as per the season) is also very popular and we have a wine that fits every mood and occasion!
You have been reading, researching about wine for years. How do you see wine drinking change in India with time?
With respect to wines, people are far more open to trying than they were a decade back. Knowledge levels have somewhat improved thanks to the increase in traveling and this surely brings with it an increased demand and seeking new options. Hence, wine drinking is changing for the better in India but people are still price conscious when spending on a bottle of wine.
How are you pairing the beverages right for your cuisine?
The pairings come with a lot of researching and trials. Food and beverages pairing is both a science and an art and we switch between both as per the situation.
What trend according to you would rule Indian F&B in next few years?
Eating local and appreciating regional Indian food might be the next big thing in F&B. Specialised bars with well-crafted drinks and an international story might be another hit where beverages are concerned. Expect home bakers to scale and become commercial names. Take away and delivery will continue to surge.
Any plan expanding the restaurant? Or opening a new restaurant?
Yes, we are looking at adding another location in the latter half of 2019. It might be under the same name or a new entity altogether.