In a city which simply loves its whisky, it was about time that someone thought about opening a restaurant exclusively for whisky lovers and connoisseurs. Ashish Dev Kapur with the successful Antares in Goa and The Wine Company in Gurgaon, decided to do just that.
Whisky Samba is located at the new upcoming food hub in the Horizon Plaza, One Horizon Centre on Golf Course Road. Looking at the restaurant from outside, as soon as your gaze goes past the Parisian inspired canopies covering the al fresco seating outside the restaurant, it gets arrested by one of the longest bars in NCR looking through the huge see through glass doors and windows. It has a domineering fifty foot long bar offering 140 varieties of whisky, with up to 2500 bottles on display. It is a stunning sight difficult to peel your gaze away from. It reminded me of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous painting Monalisa- wherever in the 250 seater restaurant you may be, you cannot take your eyes away from the bar.
The interiors are done very classily with minimalist use of black and white, with lot of wood and leather seating, giving the whole place a rugged yet very inviting modern appeal. Not only will it make a whisky lover feel that he’s like Charlie in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but also undo our preconceived notion of drinking whisky neat or on the rocks with their huge range of whisky /single malt cocktails. We can order a whisky according to curated whisky trails that define the spirit by flavour profile eg; the honey trap whisky trail presents different notes of honey in each drink, aperitif whiskies, wood finished whiskies, rare and vintage whiskies, limited edition whiskies and palate appropriate whiskies to name a few.
Chef Akshay Bharadwaj’s menu isn’t defined by cuisine instead it focuses on ingredient based cooking techniques with a huge focus on using local and seasonal produce.
My friend and I started with the welcome drink called boarding pass (red label whisky, angostura bitters and ginger ale) and the amuse bouche called the parmesan basket made of four cheeses which just melted in the mouth.
Salmon Carpaccio was served next with a homemade sauce of coriander, pickled ginger and green chilies. The delicate fish literally came alive with this pairing getting a vibrant green chili hit.
Tiger prawn ceviche was served next with a litchi reduction and berry compote. The litchi lending a subtle sweetness and the berry adding to the tannin effect. In both the dishes from the raw bar the elements of tannin, sweetness and sourness were very well balanced.
Barbequed pork belly skewers with soy honey pepper, mushroom, fresh lemon had a lovely charred crunch on the outside and were soft on the inside. These were braised gently for 7 hours.
Mushroom risotto with mushroom sheets, dried enoki mushroom as topping and truffle oil. It had all the goodness of mushrooms and much more. A must have vegetarian dish even if you’re not a mushroom lover. The Arborio rice though did not have a bite to it but I’m not complaining.
Then came the cold, sweet and sour palate cleanser of lemon and thyme sorbet, topped with a fermented water lily and a chocolate with a passion fruit filling.
Black brioche of misfits was a burger with barbequed lamb, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, bacon jam, mushroom relish, pickles,mustard cream, jalapeno and fried egg. My lamb was literally oozing with the meat juices. The creaminess from the egg yolk more than making up for the lack of mayonnaise or cheese. Though my friend did not enjoy it as much as the lamb was a bit chewy for him. A must try for meat lovers. A little messy affair, though a very satiating one.
Braised buffalo ribs with salad umami potatoes and jus was a really huge serving of two big ribs on the bone. It was almost the size of the dinner plate. Braised for ten hours it was no doubt soft, falling off the bone on being pulled and really well cooked. Though I would have preferred a little sweet and spicy barbeque sauce with it rather than the one served.
Samba style pork baby back ribs served with salad and umami potatoes. These were again melt in the mouth and done well.
For desserts, we had Samba style magnum with soufflé which was served in a black stone cup. It had a gooey molten centre and an awesome creamy texture. The mint flavoured magnum (a take off on after eight) came stuck inverted on the serving plate.
The winner was the five textures of pineapple which had pineapple custard, pound cake, dehydrated pineapple, koji salt grilled pineapple chunks, coconut and pineapple milk. With so many textures and different ways that pineapple had been treated in this dessert, it was a winner from the minute it hit the palate.
In cocktails, I tried High Maintainance (gin, vermouth, cranberry syrup, burnt rosemary, five spice syrup garnished with a chocolate leaf), A Good Thyme(vodka, passion fruit,burnt thyme and ginger syrup) and A Whiff Of Him (Laphraoig 10years, strawberry marmalade, white chocolate sprinkled with clove, plum soaked in whisky for two weeks as a garnish). Each cocktail broke the norm and offered something new to the palate and was enjoyable.
A chic place
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4.0 | Ambience: 4.5 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs.4000 ++ | Wheel Chair Friendly: No | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes
Address: Whisky Samba,Two Horizon Centre, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon | Telephone: +91 9999566232, +91 9811801682.
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.