The moment you enter La Roca in Aerocity, you know that it doesn’t fit a mould in your head. Is it a lunch venue fit for your business meet-ups? The spot for an evening hangout with friends? Or, a place where you can let your hair loose with a drink, or five? By Sumeet Keswani
It’s all of the above. Classy and exuding an unmissable sense of grandeur with its golden walls, abundance of space, high ceilings, and chic décor, the casual diner calls itself Delhi’s first ‘World Tapas Bar’. Let’s break that title down.
The ‘world tapas’ it offers are spread over multiple cuisines — Continental, Italian, Japanese, European, Asian… That makes it ideal for hosting any group that comes with the problem of individual preferences. Before I visited the place, multiple write-ups sought to tell me that the diner serves the city’s only fresh Eel Nigiri. But, I have the same reaction to eel as Toothless and his fire-breathing friends in How To Train Your Dragon (2010). I balk at the sight of it. But Chef Akshay Bhardwaj of La Roca was up to the challenge of satiating the hunger pangs of a vegetarian diner.
For someone who hates beetroot, Bhardwaj’s Beetroot Carpaccio with Goat Cheese and Candied Nuts was a revelation (and perhaps, an ice-breaker with a long-misunderstood vegetable). In the umami section, the millennial in me would’ve chosen to sample the Spicy Avocado Nigiri, but thankfully, the chef chose for me. And boy, did he choose well! Bhardwaj’s Enoki Nigiri came with a porcini surprise, tied up with the usual suspects quite neatly with seaweed. The riot of flavours lived up to its quirky presentation. Talking of impressive presentation, the most fetching dish on the table arrived in the form of Rainbow Sushi, which used natural ingredients to exude different colours on the plate.
The second part of La Roca’s appeal is its bar. Jam-packed with spirits from around the world, the bar refuses to use any synthetic flavours or syrups. Instead, it prides itself on using ‘all natural mixers’. So much so that even sugar is out of the question, and is replaced by honey water (yes, you read that right!). The juices are cold-pressed and the infusions homemade. Now, I’m not saying people choosing to drink are necessarily health-conscious, but if you need that sort of organic reassurance to be stirred with your drink, La Roca delivers. And if you’re anything like me, a bar with craft cocktails always wins over one with happy hours on beer.
True to its ‘world’ status, the bar features spirits from around the globe like shochu, pisco, absinthe, sake, etc. In my experiments with bourbon whiskey for the evening , The Blue Fashioned with its homemade blueberry balsamic syrup coupling with Woodford Reserve was a refreshing innovation. But the Saffronisation–with saffron-infused bourbon, almond milk, coffee, and maple syrup—went too far. The gin cocktails delivered for the lady on the table, while I earmarked the absinthe and pisco innovations for our next date night.
The one section where La Roca left me wanting was the desserts. Their signature Coco and Soil boasted of five samples each of five varieties of chocolate (five levels of cocoa content)—connected with chocolate soil that formed a tree on the plate. Poetic. But presentation notwithstanding, the chocolate samples themselves were too small to get a mouthful of flavour in. My second on-demand dessert, Off The Mould Crème Bruille, was a little underwhelming with extraneous jam and some burnt crisps on top.
A few aberrations aside, La Roca scores high on the chart of new restaurants in the capital. Given its strategic location–in Aerocity, and high innovation quotient, it is sure to host a wide variety of gatherings. And surprise each one of them.
Address: Worldmark 1, 06, Lower Ground Floor, Aerocity, Delhi