I'm wary when everyone talks good about a restaurant. There's always a catch. It can either be their lack of taste or just me being pretentious but popular restaurants have usually disappointed me.
Usually, that's the key word here. For, once in a while I have to swallow my ego and agree with popular thinking. Roots - Cafe in the Park is part of that exception. Situated on one side of Leisure Valley Park, Gurgaon, at first look Roots comes across as a Dhaba, albeit with "proper" hut covered seating. Its popularity is evident, especially amongst the breakfast crowd, by the 20-minute waiting on a Sunday afternoon even when the sun struck us with its first round of intense heat for the year.
Roots creates a lovely laid back ambience with the indoor (hut) and outdoor (park) seating and plenty of space to move around. The shade surprisingly kept us cool and the fact that the restaurant is situated next to a huge children's park, with functioning swings and slides, kept the little ones preoccupied enough to let us eat in peace.
Roots has a limited menu, a solitary page, front and back, and that's all. I love that. I like a place that knows what it does best and sticks to it rather than trying to impress all tastes. Comprising of an extensive breakfast menu and some mains, there's enough for everyone. Do note that the food here is vegetarian, well Eggetarian, so meat cravers, beware.
With a note pad and pen on each table, the kids enjoyed writing down the order. Every time we wanted to add something new, we'd simply jot it down and hand it over to the staff. I loved this too. It's simplistic and fun in nature and a chance for some to get a free pen at the end of the meal (we didn't take one nor do I suggest you do, but you could if you wanted to).
As we were in a group of 4 adults and 2.5 kids, we managed to order a variety of food. The drinks were served in mason jars. Most of you who read my reviews know that it's a trend I think that's gone a bit too far. Nevertheless the Masala Neembu Soda and Jal Jeera were wonderful. The Soda especially with a mixture of spices floating in it was refreshing. The Sweet Neembu Pani was also perfectly blended with just the right amount of sweetness from sugar and sourness of the lemon.
When it comes to food, I was impressed with their consistency in delivering one delicious dish after another. The Poha was homely and spiced just right. It's easy to make Poha that is really dry, but that was not the case here. I realized that mixing the Poha with the Wai Wai Bhel was a lovely new concoction that adds crunch to the Poha and softness to the Wai Wai Bhel, which was good enough on its own as well.
The Bun Omelet which got a few laughs from the kids because I referred to it as "Bum Omelet" was like a big sandwich/burger filled with healthy goodness. It tasted just fine without having to use any condiments. Besides the “Hari Chautney”, I liked the fact that Roots served sweet-and-sour ketchup in place of its plain avatar.
The Bangla Masala Scotch Eggs with a beetroot covering were my personal favourite while the rest of the group devoured the rather straightforward yet crunchy and flavorsome Sabudana Fingers.
In terms of the mains, we ended up trying the Nepali Platter which was the only disappointment of the entire meal. Although it came with suspiciously menacing looking, but intriguing, red bread (it had beetroot in it), the entire platter lacked any real taste. The Indian Thali on the other hand with the usual suspects (Paneer Sabzi, Kheer, Kadhi, Daal, and fresh hot Roti) was brilliant.
I did sneak in a Kejriwal Sandwich at the end just because I've been fascinated by this apparently legendary Wellington Club (Mumbai) specialty that I first came across at SodaBottleOpenerWala. Sadly, while the sandwich was acceptable, it came across more as an omelet on top of bread. The one I had at SBOW had all the elements (Eggs, Fresh Greens, etc.) separate, but at Roots it was more like a homemade amateur version of the dish which also lacked an oozing egg yolk that can make or break the sandwich.
The service at Roots was exceptional with lots of staff all around taking care of everyone. They were friendly and the food was served quickly without any notable delays. I did find that the chair I was sitting on was breaking and more alarmingly nails were poking out. The same was pointed out to the staff, but I would hope such checks were conducted by them on their own.
The bill for the entire meal was Rs. 1737,- inclusive of taxes and a 5% Service Charge in place of a 10% one which is a norm nowadays. Can’t complain about the bill, and in fact would term the meal as a bargain.
Roots - Cafe in the Park is an excellent place to visit. The food is outstanding and you can pretty much order anything with your eyes closed and it should turn out to your liking. The ambience suits the winter time more, but I'm told they keep the place nice and cool during the hot summer months. I honestly believe that places like Roots should be applauded and cherished and more people should visit it, just not on the day when I'm visiting simply because I don't want to wait in line to get in.