Talk about culinary hubs in Gurugram; DLF CyberHub, Sector 29 and the European-style 32nd Milestone instantly come to mind. Now, adding to this list is an exciting new venue and that is Wordmark Gurugram. If you, like us, have spent most of 2020-2021 indoors, then you are in for a surprise! You will be amazed at the herd of restaurants, bars, cafes and bakeries that have set shop (much like Worldmark Aerocity), thus making it the hottest new destination in town. Among those, what is likely to catch your attention as soon as you step in is Houz Cafe Bar. It's not just its strategic location but also the chic glasshouse structure that make for a great first impression.
Spread across two floors, the glass walls and tasteful interiors lend to a dreamy setting around the clock. You can expect plenty of sunlight for brunch, and a 'dining with a view' experience for sundowners and evening cocktail sessions. We visit for brunch and settle ourselves at a sunlit table close to the bar. The placement of the many potted plants across the space eludes a tropical vibe, including the statement piece - an installation of lights hanging from a ceiling garden. Adding quirk to the space is the colourful upholstery.
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Brunches are all the more fun when you have interesting cocktails to try. Houz Cafe Bar caters to this need. We choose Fog Cutter and Last Call from their signatures. The former is a fruity cocktail, keeping with the tropical vibe, with white rum as a base and shaken with a mix of fruits like berries, oranges and banana. We fear it to be too sweet, but it is delightfully well-balanced. Last Call combines kahlua, butterscotch and vodka to double up as a dessert. It is delicious but turns out quite strong for a start.
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Next up are Orchard's Bramble, a fruity gin-based cocktail with prominent kaffir lime notes for a refreshing twist, and Tranquility, which combines bourbon with pineapple juice, bitters and an interesting corn syrup that gives it an unmissable caramel popcorn flavour. A retake of a classic is the Houz New Fashion, which combines flavours of cinnamon and tea with bourbon, and makes for an enjoyable drink.
Food Review: Houz Cafe Bar
The food menu created by Chef Bishwajit Halder offers a wide selection of global dishes in his attempt to provide variety. We start with European specials - Tiropita and Italian Cheese and Jalapeno Croquettes. Tiropita is a filo-based Greek snack with a creamy filling of feta and minced chicken. The vegetarian option comes with a spinach filling, and these are served with teriyaki sauce, cilantro pesto and hummus as accompaniments. We enjoy the crunchy parcels as is although we wish they were less oily. The croquettes are a hit with the winning combination of cheese and jalapeno. No-brainer!
From their Tibetan dumpling section (kimchi mandu), we try the vegetarian and chicken options both. Unfortunately, these fail to impress. We find the dough shell rather thick and the artificial colouring doesn't really score on visual appeal.
Making up for it is the next dish - Mexican Grilled Peri Peri Chicken served as a sizzler. This is a complete meal in itself as it comes with a portion of rice, fries and stir-fried veggies. The smoky sauce and spicy rice is a delicious combination. We enjoy this comfort food with a side of Lemon Moroccan Chicken Salad, which tosses together a whole lot of veggies with dried fruits and nuts like apricot, raisin and almond. The vinaigrette dressing with Moroccan spices further gives it a flavour boost.
In desserts, we indulge in the all-time favourite Choco Lava with ice cream and chocolate sauce adding to its decadence, and the Mango Phirni that is served in a mud pot. We love that it is creamy and not overly sweet.
Well, even after a fitting meal, we realise that we have barely covered the menu. So, we decide to visit again to try more dishes, especially from their Persian, Italian and Mud Pot Biryani options. Point to note: Thursday evenings are dedicated to aviation industry professionals and there's live music on Saturday evenings.
Houz Cafe Bar, Tower-4 Worldmark, Sector 65, Gurugram, Haryana; Meal for two: Rs 2,500