Food for Thought

Prachi Bhuchar        Print Edition: Oct 28, 2012

This place clearly ranks low in the planning department. It is meant for dining but the lighting is so low you can barely see your plate. If you get one of the tables near the bar, chances are your dinner conversation will be interrupted by the annoyingly incessant pressure cooker whistle that goes off in the kitchen (yes, you can hear it at your table). Rhino is a confusing space: dark wood, elements of copper and fit with a stage for live gigs. It has diner-type leather benches on one side that lead onto a surprisingly nice outdoor terrace. Overall though, the space is too dark.

To be honest, Rhino is a fantastic bar with passable food. The bar menu has a mix of interesting molecular cocktails and the drinks are fun and impressive. Try the coin royale which is sparkling wine topped with a cranberry foam and strawberry caviar pearls. The enthusiastic bartender does a good job of dressing up everyday staples with fancy pearls and is true to the art of molecular mixology which is not yet a common option in Gurgaon.

The cocktail list is extensive and no matter what your posion, you will find an attractive version of it here. The bar and service are the two redeeming factors at what otherwise comes across as a cavernous, moody bar looking to host sufi, jazz and other live performances on a regular basis.

Drinks aside, the menu is where the confusion begins. It is 'multi cuisine' and has a smattering of Indian, Lebanese, Mediterranean and even Chinese thrown in in the form of 'Oriental desserts.' The pita pockets (vegetarian) were crisp and wholesome but the hummus lacked the lovely texture generally associated with it. The duck salad with poached pears is described on the menu as ' oven roasted duck, red wine poached pears accompanied with seasonal fresh herbs'. You order it expecting a delicate, aromatic plate. Huge disappointment.

What you are served instead has large wedges of tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce dominating, with slivers of duck thrown in as an afterthought. The hoisin sauce dabbed on as a dressing was straight from a bottle and the poached pears did not work. There were no fresh herbs on a dish that definitely needs an overhaul. Similarly the Qatari kebab (mince skewers) served with papaya salsa seemed to have been plated in a hurry. Too many things were happening on the plate that did not gel together and the kebabs were dry.

While no one can complain about the portion sizes at Rhino, perhaps the trick is to steer clear of any dishes that are even remotely fancy in their description. Stay with the regular pastas, burgers and Indian food (others who have eaten here vouch that these dishes are tasty) and you should be fine. While I would happily recommend Rhino to anyone who loves cocktails and is looking to down a few mean drinks after work, this is not the place to head to for an extended meal. Given that a dining experience is as much about the ambience as the food, you come away feeling rather disappointed. Perhaps it may be worth another visit to see if the chef was simply having a bad day at the office.

BT MORE RECOMMENDS

Coin Royale
Nachos with cheese
Meal for two at Rs 2,500 plus taxes;
for reservations ..(0124) 4205676

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