Housed in what looks like a palatial Mediterranean mansion, this restaurant has an innovative menu of cocktails and dishes to die for
I did not see it coming. At first, the task seemed doable, yet before reaching half of the food marathon, I was on the verge of giving up. With each round, the game changed. With each change in cutlery, the unsaid question arose, “Are you ready for the next one?”
Before I went to the restaurant, I was asked to choose one of the options — À La Carte or a 13- course chef’s tasting menu. I chose the latter thinking it will be cakewalk. However, it was beyond that.
This restaurant and cocktail bar is situated in a heritage property overlooking the marvellous Qutub Minar. Right from the entrance of the complex to the main door of the restaurant, the property screams of the luxury which South Delhi offers in abundance.
Brainchild of Chef Sujan Sarkar, this restaurant is the second baby of the chef, the first one enjoys its fair share of clientele in San Francisco, California.
Rooh’s interior decor is truly Mediterranean inspired. The restaurant looks more like a palatial home, wherein Al Pacino could come around any corner, any moment. From classic white wall paint to bright Mediterranean blue, the wall paint is striking yet subtle.
The pink upholstery of the chairs at the bar and in the dining area constantly demand your attention. However, it’s the grand chandelier in the dining area which leaves you absolute awestruck. This marvellous chandelier complements the colonial style marble table, the way diamonds do a nice dress.
If you have been fan (or a sucker) of the popular American show Sex and the City, you would understand the obsession with having a drink at a fancy bar. Rooh’s cocktail bar brought out the Samantha in me, while the Carey in me was curious about the über luxurious vibe of the restaurant.
Bar manager’s Izler’s knowledge of drinks is amazing, so much so, that we dared ask him how to make the cocktails at home — wondering whether he would part with his secret recipe. He did not hold himself back and shared happily.
What brings the cocktail bar closer to the Indian experience is the menu. The cocktails are based on the six Ayurvedic rasas — sweet, salty, pungent, bitter, sour and astringent. The aim is to create a “sensory experience” while house-made mixes and syrups add value to it.
First to arrive was a cocktail infused with fresh kale and cucumber juice, raw mango shrub, egg white and gin. This drink was so refreshing, I was charged with a desire for healthy living — but it wore off soon. That Monday shall arrive one day.
All the cocktails from the bar menu are priced at a standard Rs 650, leaving no room for confusion. Each cocktail is listed in sections of the rasas.
The Samantha in me felt happier with the second cocktail, based on the lifeline of South Indians — filter coffee. The Kaapi Martini drink at the restaurant is an adroit mix of filter coffee, walnut, honey and gin. The strong flavour of filter coffee amalgamating with gin is a combination may make you swoon if you are a lover of both coffee and gin.
Intoxicated by these delicious cocktails, we carried ourselves to the dining area and sat on Samrat Banerjee’s favourite table. Banerjee is the Director of Operations at the restaurant. With his warm personality, he tells us that the table at the corner, gives him “an overview of the kitchen, to other corners of the restaurant.”
This was the final and the most awaited round of our visit: the 11-course chef’s tasting menu. Personally designed by Chef Sujan Sarkar, the menu aims to leave customers awestruck with the added twist to dishes they have had all their lives. With each change of dish, the cutlery on the table was changed too. Forks, knives and spoons arrive and leave with military precision.
First: Amla Sense. It looks like a traditional golgappa, however, the taste is other-worldly. A mix of yogurt, passion fruit and amla, this dish explodes in your mouth in milliseconds.
Second: Pork Vindaloo. The chef gives the Goan dish a complete Dutch makeover with floss, Kreme doughnut, and apple, atop which rests the meat. Each bite was scrumptious, changing the definition of a doughnut forever for me.
Third: Egg Liquid Bhurji. A creamy gravy of Maharashtrian thetcha with quinoa, the dish comes with two paos. Each bite has a flavour of Indianness and modern spices.
Fourth: Melon Rasam. Who could imagine that melon and South Indian rasam would combine to make a ridiculously flavourful dish. Tender coconut and sea buckthorn enhances the sweet flavour of watermelon in a distinct fashion.
Fifth: Potato Fermented paratha. If you love eating paranthas at home, office, and anywhere else, this dish will reinforce your love for the homely dish in an unusual way. Here they add Mehrauli goat curd and tomato pickle with a very distinct taste.
By now, I was gobsmacked by the power of food, how it leaves you astounded, and how it opens new doors for your taste buds, each time you come across something as delicious as the delicacies at Rooh.
The food marathon was only half-way to the finish line. Taking a break, we indulged in some chit-chat with the chefs and admired the grandeur of Qutub Minar.
And then it was time for Duck Shami. Pressman biscuit, strawberry and sour apple between a creamy layer on the bottom and a solid chunk of duck meat on top. This dish offers a wide variety of flavours as you take one bite after the other. A freshly made green chutney enhances the experience further.
Next up was the dish every non-vegetarian in Delhi loves — Chicken Roulade — a dish based on creamy chicken lababdar. The chef’s preparation lives up to expectations. The chicken resting atop the creamy layer is finely cooked to perfection, leaving no room for error.
With this, we were served crisp naans which we savoured with another dish — sea bass in Alleppey curry. A green gravy with bone powder podi and prawn cannoli, lying comfortably on the plate, dominated by a big chunk of sea bass fish.
As a finale, a mango dessert was served. The mango was a doppelgänger of an egg yolk, and took some points for not being extra sweet. But the biggest bang for the buck came from Besan Barfi & Opera. A classic combination with valrhona chocolate and orange murabba, it conquered all the tastebuds subjugated by previous dishes.
Although Rooh also offers an À La Carte menu, I would personally recommend the Chef’s Menu, because this is an experience not to be missed. It opens your mind to how Indian food leaves so much room for experimentation.
Priced at Rs 3,200, the chef’s menu is available for customers in two seatings — one at 6:30 pm and the other at 9:30 pm.
Address: Ambawatta One, Mehrauli
Reviewer visited the restaurant on invitation