My fellow diner and I are self-confessed foodies — call us gluttons even. As we joke about a Facebook Meme — the 'Fault in Our Diets' — we settle into cream-coloured tufted chairs, which lend an old-world, Brit ambiance to Oakroom at Juhu. The al-fresco seating outside, which is a week old, looks as fresh as a summer's day, complete with yellow walls, comfortable garden chairs and a glass roof.
The Goat Cheese Salad and Prawns in Raw Mango Curry at Oakroom, Juhu are a delicious affair. Pics/Shadab Khan
To start with, we order the Warm Goat Cheese Salad (R750), from the new menu which launched last November, a temporary promise to turn over a new leaf — pun intended. I usually cringe at the word 'salad', but as I cut into the warm rocket leaves, crisp asparagus and broccoli, along with the crunchy walnuts, the blob of goat cheese is not the only ingredient we polish off on the plate.
The best part about the salad is that it is not drowned in oodles of mayonnaise — kills the very purpose of a salad, doesn't it? — nor too many herbs. Just a hint of mixed herbs, olive oil and we're good. While we had originally ordered the Arugula Salad, the assistant manager, Raphael Oliveira, adamantly refused to serve it. "The Arugula is not crunchy enough, miss." We like the truthful confession.
Our diet plan falls like a pack of cards as we pick the Oakroom Spice Burger (Rs 350) and a Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Rs 550). While we wait for our carb indulgence, we sip on Blue Lagoon (R220) and Rosemary Soda (Rs 220), which has a mix of grape juice, soda and a wedge of lime. The drinks are refreshing and a welcome respite from the outdoor heat.
The burger bun is soft, and the king-size patty sits on a bed of tomatoes and lettuce. Double the regular size, the outer covering of the patty cracks on the first bite. Fuelled by the red chilli peppers, the patty is scrumptious and takes me by a happy surprise. The fiery American flavours are doused by the cold crunchy coleslaw salad, which is served on the side.
The Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich is comfort food at its best, which shows a well-thought recipe on the chef's part. The slice of ham is juicy. It's placed on a bed of cheese and stuffed with a mushroom crème that moistens the sandwich from the inside but retains the dark grilled lines outside. The sandwich is gobbled before we know it. Both the dishes are served with French fries.
Anybody sane (read non-foodie) would stop here, but our mind has strayed to the Indian menu. We request Oliveira to serve us a tasting portion of Prawn in Raw Mango Curry (Rs 800) and Vegetables in Lemon Grass Sauce (Rs 450) with rice. The Prawn Curry has been given a classic Konkani approach, complete with rai (mustard seeds), turmeric, coconut milk, and kairi (raw mango). The velvety gravy is mildly spiced, with hints of tanginess in the form of raw mango pieces. The prawns are lusciously succulent and it is one of the best dishes of the day.
Wait, we have not tried the vegetarian curry. At first bite, the dish seems like a Thai curry, but with the presence of garam masala and vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower and French beans, each bite is a tug-of-war between Thai and Indian influences. Very few fusion dishes end up doing equal justice to both cuisines, and this one is an exception. We love it for its innovative mash up, slow-cooked, well-marinated sauce and the satiated feeling it leaves us with.
Despite bursting at the seams, we decide to try the desserts. After all, which meal is complete without one? While we are keen to indulge in the Dark and White Chocolate Crème Brulee (Rs 220), Oliveira insists that we try the Rose Petal Rice Pudding with Chikki Kulfi (Rs 295). Now we don't want a war, so we settle for both.
Not a fan for anything rose, I'd readily give the kheer a miss, if not for the homemade chikki kulfi, which is creamy, nutty and saves the dish. Usually crème brulees have a wobbly custard base. But this one has a firm cheesecake form — the chocolate is dark, creamy fudge and is a calorie trap. Ease it with the white cheesecake for a milder, sweeter mouthful. Over all, we love the food for the mild treatment of spices and herbs, yet strong and layered flavouring. Step into this room and you'll not be disappointed.
We cannot rate the experience as it was by invitation
Where: Oakroom, 29/1, Oakwood Premier, JR Mhatre Road, Iris Park, Juhu
Food: Well invented
Timing: Breakfast from 7 am-10.30 am. Open till 1.30 am