"We are an international bistro,” says Chef Tara Chand of The Oak Tree. This restaurant is owned by the same group that runs the chain of stores, Needs, in Gurgaon. And it serves various meats from its grill; pizzas from its wood fired stone oven, Mediterranean; and lately, Oriental cuisine. As I enter the restaurant, the live grill and the open seating look both exciting and inviting.
In case you are thinking this place serves only the carnivores, think again. Their menu is well-balanced, and their star vegetarian dishes include the Everything platter (Rs. 895). The platter has eight beautiful dips, two salads, Thai spring rolls, falafel, mushrooms, and assorted breads and vegetables en papillote (Rs. 395)—a French method of cooking in which the food is baked in a folded pouch of paper.
The first dish on the table is the mustard grilled chicken with garden vegetables (Rs. 495); which is perfectly marinated, seasoned and cooked. The chicken is tender on the inside, and crisp on the outside. The seasoning of thyme, mustard and lemon provides a flavourful balance to the gentle taste of the chicken. The veg spinachi pizza (Rs. 395) is a great result of what cooking the dish in a stone-oven-fired-with-oak-wood can do, to the texture and the taste of a pizza. The toppings of asparagus, mushrooms, mozzarella and cheddar complement the crust well.
I decide to try the newly introduced Thai menu, and order the lamb massaman curry (Rs 395); a southern Thai dish that is Indian Muslim in origin. This is a complicated dish, and requires a lot of whole spices – in addition to the traditional Thai spices.
The dish I am presented, however, is lacking in the zing of the whole spices; and has a rich creamy curry that is too heavy on the palate, and masks the taste of the dish. This is a bit of a disappointment after two wonderful dishes.
The restaurant is back to its elements with the dessert. Tiramisu (Rs. 295) literally means ‘pick me up’; and that is what this dish does. I feel a thrill when a beautiful plate of savoiardi (an Italian cylindrical biscuit)—dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, with a base of sponge cake accompanied by a shot of espresso—arrives on the table. The freshness of the mascarpone beautifully pairs with the bitterness of the coffee, and the softness of the sponge cake. It is a yum moment indeed.
The Oak Tree deserves praise for delivering on truly authentic tastes, without trying to Indianise them. A meal here is likely to make you want to ‘tie a yellow ribbon round this (new) Oak Tree’.