The Tea Room Co.
UG-29, Star Mall, Sector 30, NH-8, Gurgaon
Cuisine: Tea, Mexican, Others
Timing: 10 am to 11 pm
Can one pair tea with food? What about tea with Mexican food? These questions are at the top of my mind as I enter the Tea Room Co., situated in a deserted DLF Star Mall on NH-8 (a newly-released flop film running in the mall’s multiplex may have contributed some more to its emptiness).
“The Tea Room is all about tea,” says proprietor Mridu Gupta, “We serve the food keeping the tea pairing as the starting point.” She recommends that I have the citrose infusion blend (Rs 59) with my food, and the marista tea (Rs 59) as my meal’s finale.
Interestingly, both protagonists here—tea and Mexican food—have rich histories. The usage of tea as a beverage was first recorded in China in the 10th century BC. And Mexican cuisine has evolved through a blending of indigenous and European elements since the 16th century.
The first to arrive is what the restaurant has chosen to call mushroom enchilada (Rs 175). What I expect is a tortilla roll with mushrooms and some chilly-based sauce inside. What is served is a mushroom dish looking somewhat naked without the customary tortilla wrap. The menu describes the sauce as a ‘tongue-tingling paprika lemon sauce’, which is partly correct. The lemon is conspicuous by its absence, but the tongue sure does tingle. Although a spicy explosion in the mouth, what saves this dish from numbing the tongue is the citrose infusion, a blend of rose, lemongrass and orange peel that soothes the palate and makes the experience close to enjoyable.
Presumably to make the dish more suitable to the Indian palate, the chicken fajita (Rs 410) is an adaptation of the Tex-Mex staple. Strips of grilled chicken are cooked in a sauce very similar to the enchilada and finished with cheese and bell peppers. This is accompanied by freshly prepared guacamole, sour cream, salsa and tortillas. Not for the faint hearted, this dish too is spicy hot, but does become a trifle less fiery when rolled into a tortilla with guacamole and sour cream. The chicken is well seasoned, and the sauces are fresh—though the guacamole could have been chunkier.
The chicken burrito roll (Rs 410) feels like the gentle breeze that follows the storm. Like a roomali roll in concept, the burrito traces its origins to the Aztec people of Mexico who used tortillas to wrap their food. Burrito means “little donkey” in Spanish and is derived from the bedrolls that donkeys used to carry. The roll has a filling of chicken chunks and cheese, baked and served with Mexican rice and frijoles (rajma cooked and mashed in its own juices) and the usual trio of sour cream, guacamole and salsa. The plate presented spells and tastes comfort food. The combination of soft tortilla, a cheesy chicken and condiments hit the spot. The accompanying Mexican rice is missing the vital tomato tang and tastes like a pulao; the only misfit in this dish.
And it’s time now for a cup of marista tea from the Nilgiris: the proprietor’s recommendation. Deservedly so, it is a perfect end to the meal, because of its fennel (saunf) flavour and clean taste.
The food at the Tea Room Co. is good but not extraordinary; at best it can be called an attempt to create an Indo-Mex taste. What makes it worth visiting though is the ambience of the place—comfortable and languid. And, of course, its selection of some unique teas and infusions. Head for this restaurant if you want to hang out with friends, or be alone reading a book.