Scrumptious Food, Energetic Bar & Great View: Together at 12th has Much More to Offer

Seating about 100 diners at once, they’ve restrained from sticking to any particular cuisine calling it a ‘freestyle’. We caught up with the founder, Nitin Tewari to know more about his exciting journey and what he chalks out for the future.

OPENED ON the 12th floor of one of Gurugram's Hotels, Le Meridian, this newcomer in town is creating a storm with its well-crafted food and drinks menu. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Vanshika Bhatia, who brings experience from restaurants like Noma, Gaggan, and Junoon, and closer home you may have gotten a taste of her skills at Ek Bar and Piso 16. And the bar is led by mixologist Nitin Tewari, who’s previously been associated with hotel brands such as Taj, Oberoi, and Hyatt. It checks all the boxes you’d want from a restaurant in 2019 – in-house edible plants, dedicated selfie spots, a wall with names of all those who’ve been involved in the project, a specially illustrated cocktail menu, and rose gold hues. Seating about 100 diners at once, they’ve restrained from sticking to any particular cuisine calling it a ‘freestyle’. We caught up with Tewari to know more about his exciting journey and what he chalks out for the future.

Tell us your story in the hospitality industry? 

I am trained as a hospitality professional and found my true calling behind the bar. I have worked with some of India's most highly recognised bars and restaurants, including The Polo Lounge Bar at the Hyatt and Ricks at the Taj Mahal hotel to name a few. After working in India for three years I moved to Australia to pursue a master's degree in hospitality. Upon my return, I started working as the Brand Ambassador for Bacardi India where I was mostly seen making cocktails, conducting training sessions for bartenders and enthusiasts. I was one of those minds behind the bespoke cocktails at prestigious events like the IIFA Awards, Grey Goose Style Du Jour, Vogue Fly Beyond Awards and the Bacardi NH7 Weekender to name a few. 

I am very proud of what India has to offer and love experimenting with new ingredients and hence began my chapter of consultancy. Ek Bar was my first project and with that came a wave of parallel consulting projects like FLYP@Mtv, almost all the Olive brands, Hyatt's, Masque Mumbai, Talli Joe in London, Rooh San Francisco to name a few. After which my journey led me to working on Together At 12th.

When did Together at 12th happened? What was the idea behind its inception?

I have always wanted to open something of my own. Till recently I have always been setting up bars for everyone else. Destiny connected me with colleagues then and my partners now, Tanisha, Chef Vanshika and Ridhu during our days at Ek Bar and we decided to get together and open a Restaurant and Bar. We wanted to combine our expertise of kitchen and bar and create a unique space where both combine with great service to create a perfect equation. That was our base upon which we began our journey to building Together At 12th. Finding the perfect space was the next step, then came the rest one by one as we handpicked our way ticking off the check list. 

The idea of 'together' was to create a space where great food, drinks, passion and energy come together; a space for people of all ages to feel the radiating vibe of ease and togetherness. Showcasing the best of local Indian produce and craftsmanship every inch of the restaurant has been built with local material, stone, marbles etc. The menus of both food and cocktails have been made with the sole intention of using seasonal, local produce and maintaining a sustainable restaurant in totality. The bar and kitchen work in unison exchanging their ideas and ingredients. 

Why did you choose to open your first restaurant in a hotel?

We are an independent restaurant inside Le Meridien Hotel Gurgaon. The concept of a standalone inside a hotel is common abroad but very new in India hence we feel privileged that we got this space. The hotel is rightly placed just at the border of Delhi-Gurgaon, centrally located rather. The facilities like valet and great parking space is a great plus point- just the sense of luxury you feel when you enter a five star.

When we were looking for that "perfect" space to open our restaurant at, we wanted a unique space for our unique concept, a good view (that we are blessed to have), a place that will be a 'destination'

Are you planning to expand your standalone restaurant outside?

As of now, we want to concentrate our energies on making Together At 12th the best restaurant and bar in India and then maybe we will multiply into the metropolitan cities around the sub-continent.

How are you making your restaurant and bar different from others? What are the unique offerings?

We are the first Freestyle Restaurant and Bar. We want to introduce people to freestyle cuisine which for us is about working with technique on seasonal and local produce without the confines of a particular "cuisine". As a bartender I work with all kinds of bars and have set up bars with different themes - I serve guests cocktails they would like. I have no style or no favourites hence, freestyle! Chef Vanshika too strongly believes in technique-driven cooking and taking inspiration from her travels, or her grandma. With a background of Noma, Junoon and Gaggan her techniques stretch to diverse parts of the world.

As a restaurant, you will instantly feel the infectious vibe of friendliness, warmth and togetherness radiating throughout the space and even from our staff. As you walk through the restaurant you will be amazed by the panoramic view of the Aravallis on one side and the city skyline on the other. You will be greeted by edible plants like clove and fennel in every corner. As a supporter of sustainability, you will find that we have taken great measures towards it.

Our menus consist of items like the upcycled tortellini that is a stuffed pasta with vegetable discards like stems and shavings, flower tart that includes edible flowers and herbs that are growing in the restaurant, seasonal changes in the menu according to availability and the freshest sourdough bread and preserves all made in house. The bar too uses every part of the fruit - syrup or purees of the pulp, sous vides, dehydrating, making leather of the remains - a complete loop. You'd have to come to the restaurant to experience all of it.

How do you plan out your menu, and where do you source the ingredients from?

The menu, as is our entire concept was built on sourcing seasonal and local. Chef Vanshika and her team worked on the menu together starting with a list of seasonal produce of the time and started layering ingredients - grains, vegetables, fruits, meats you name it. They spent another month on testing the produce from various farms and suppliers before locking the menu. 

Same goes for the bar, my team of star bartenders sat together with a list of seasonal ingredients and a whiteboard and for two weeks scribbled ideas onto it slowly fine-tuning them till we reached our final idea which is a pictorial menu that gives you a window of nostalgic times & guides you by flavour and strength of a cocktail.

What is the future you see for Together at 12th?

I would wish for it to become the epitome of hospitality and that stands the test of time.

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