A School Canteen that turns into American Cafe in the evening.
It is certainly not one of those upscale, air-conditioned, fine-dining places with a fancy address. But Dev’s American Cafe here believes in providing a new and different experience to foodies who are ready and willing to experiment.
Tucked inside the campus of The British School in Chandigarh’s Sector 44, the cafe is more of an open eating space with a makeshift roof for some cover to seat about 30-35 people. The sitting area is actually a shed with the school’s boundary wall being the only back-up on one side.
The only fully covered area is the kitchen, which too appears more like a school canteen than a restaurant kitchen. And with good reason — it actually is the school canteen during the day.
It is only in the evening that Dev’s American Cafe comes to life with colourful but basic lighting, some music and a lot of variety of good food, though the menu is just a couple of white boards with the food choices written in black, green, blue and red markers.
On the menu board, one can find dishes with such unique names as Baloo the Burger, Phat Omelette (comes with toast), The Lindy Hop, Don’t Tell Me, Volcano Burger, The Tintin (inspired by Ranbeer Tintin Siddu of “I Quit” fame) and others.
JD’s Sandwich is named after a local food enthusiast who is a frequent face at the cafe and loves one particular sandwich.
Among other popular items are the Big Texas BBQ Burger, American Breakfast, California Date Shake and Cinamon French Toast.
Owner and founder Dev — short for Devinder Singh Mahal — is an Indian-American who was a chef in the US for nearly 25 years before heading for India and is now “settled” here to be part of the food business.
“We love to experiment. So our menu items keep changing. Most of the dishes on the menu have been conceived by me depending on the taste demands of the people coming here,” Devinder told.
Born to a Sikh father and a German-American mother in the US, Dev says that he tries to infuse international flavour to his dishes.
“Most of my clients here are youngsters and families. I keep getting feedback from them to bring in changes to the items that are made and sold here. We don’t advertise ourselves, not even on popular food social sites. Most of our customers come here based on word-of-mouth references,” Dev said
In the kitchen, it is Dev, his young associate Ashank, and a helper who manage the entire cooking.
“We make it a point to understand the food tastes of people and prepare things accordingly. We do give them suggestions, wherever necessary,” pointed out Ashank, a commerce graduate who learnt all his cooking skills at the cafe.
Where: Dev’s American Cafe; The British School Campus, Sector 44, Chandigarh.
Meal for Two: Around Rs 600-1,000 (depending upon the order; some items are cheaper).
Time: 5 pm to 10 pm