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ROOH: Progressive Indian on Randolph Street

ROOH: Progressive Indian on Randolph Street
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  • ROOH: Progressive Indian on Randolph Street

    Post #1 - May 26th, 2019, 10:48 am
    Post #1 - May 26th, 2019, 10:48 am Post #1 - May 26th, 2019, 10:48 am
    ROOH: Progressive Indian on Randolph Street

    Traditional or innovative, all dishes represent a series of decisions by the chef, who incorporates many familiar elements but varies the formula based on ingredient availability, whim and other factors, random or calculated. ROOH prides itself on taking recipes for traditional Indian food – including many items you might see on the standard Devon Avenue buffet – and pushing them in a way that extends boundaries and sparks our understanding of dishes we thought we knew.

    Headed up by Chef Sujan Sakar (Times’ Chef of the Year in India), ROOH is aiming to serve “progressive Indian” cuisine, which means it’s a step in the evolution of the Indian cooking tradition, presenting dishes with many of the same ingredients and flavors of Indian food…but with a difference.

    Here are some examples of how the cuisine at ROOH represents a fresh take on traditional Indian cooking.

    Tuna Bhel.jpg Tuna Bhel

    Tuna Bhel is a variation on Bhel Puri, an extremely popular street food in India, usually consisting of puffed rice, vegetables, spicy tamarind sauce and many other ingredients that’s sold all over India. At ROOH, there are – somewhat surprisingly – chunks of raw tuna added, which you would never see on the street food version, but which works very well with the more traditional ingredients.

    Dahi puri.jpg Dahi Puri

    Dahi Puri is another popular Indian street food that Chef Sakar reinvigorates for a fine dining environment. Puri is a kind of crisp sphere, traditionally filled with any one of a number of ingredients. At ROOH, Sakar fills his with avocado and crushed raspberry, which you would be unlikely to encounter on the streets of Delhi or Calcutta. In India, puri are known as "girl's food," and indeed I did see large swarms of young women in school uniforms crowding around puri vendors. In India, it seems almost impossible to buy one puri; they come in sets of, I think, four or so. In a fine dining environment like ROOH, of course, you get one on a plate -- and plate that is, incidentally, dark black, the better to facilitate Instagramming.

    The challenge with the ROOH approach is that when we go to an Indian restaurant, we're waiting for our Indian food buttons to be pushed. There are foods -- regular buffet items, perhaps clichés but no less delicious for their commonness -- that we expect to have. ROOH thwarts those expectations, and though we have to applaud them for taking risks, it is definitely a risk to not serve items like tandoori chicken and sag paneer. The restaurant clearly announces that these traditional preparations are not what it's going after, but still, a risk.

    Nontraditional food like this would likely bomb on Devon, and the restaurants location on Randolph signals that it's going for a hip and happening crowd that wants elegant presentations rather than a buffet.

    736 N. Randolph
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #2 - May 29th, 2019, 5:53 pm
    Post #2 - May 29th, 2019, 5:53 pm Post #2 - May 29th, 2019, 5:53 pm
    was there some sort of private press event here? this is at least the 3rd account i've read about this place in the past 3 days. probably just a coincidence.
  • Post #3 - September 23rd, 2019, 10:27 am
    Post #3 - September 23rd, 2019, 10:27 am Post #3 - September 23rd, 2019, 10:27 am
    I had a pretty poor experience here the other night, from the service to the food. Or I should maybe say we had a pretty poor experience, since the majority of the group left disappointed as well. It began when we were seating, honestly, as my spot was right above what must have been a speaker downstairs. The second I sat on the bench in the corner I felt every dB of the bass thump of the cheesy club music. It was like sitting on a headache. I eventually moved my spot and, when every member of the party arrived, including the person that took my spot, we eventually decided to just shift our pushed-together tables over a few feet entirely. Things continued to get weird when the server brought our drinks, including a cocktail he insisted was ordered even though the person he said had ordered it had not even arrived yet when he took our orders. Rather than just accept there was a mistake, he gave us the option of paying for the cocktail we did not order. Um, no thanks.

    My own cocktail was literally undrinkable. It was a riff on a rum drink, very tiki, yet served in a coup with about an inch of pineapple-infused whipped cream topping it - yet no straw. How are you supposed to even sip something with a thick lid of whipped cream at the top? My reward for scooping out a point of entry was something that the table agreed tasted not unlike a Jell-o shot.

    The food from the flight started showing up, and I remained pretty unimpressed, especially when the first few dishes were followed up by a long gap (for which they apologized) and then, with the next wave, a few dishes that were so underwhelming or even bad to me (even the butter chicken!) I barely took a nibble before passing them on to someone else (something that rarely happens). Dessert included a strange hazelnut squiggle that looked like a riff on a poo emoji.

    The whole ordeal took soooo long - maybe three or so hours? - and afterwards a dining companion and I shook our heads at how much great food our group's total would have bought at any number of excellent Indian spots. Just a complete letdown across the board, top to bottom.

    Btw, we had enough stuff leftover that no one wanted to eat that my spouse, who liked the meal better than most at the table, asked to take it with her. Yet when it came time to leave soon after the packaged-to-go food had not arrived, and when she brought it up with the server he looked under the table, as if we somehow just missed its delivery and it was hidden from us. :roll: I noticed the next day that my wife ended up dumping everything in the trash anyway. Maybe she didn't like the meal after all.
  • Post #4 - November 18th, 2019, 4:39 pm
    Post #4 - November 18th, 2019, 4:39 pm Post #4 - November 18th, 2019, 4:39 pm
    My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed a recent dinner at ROOH. We ordered 5 of the small plates for dinner (no large plates) so we could taste as much as possible. We found all of the food full of flavor, creative, and just plain fun. The Cashew Cake with Thandai Ice Cream for dessert was also excellent.

    The only thing I could criticize would be the naan. The roti was excellent, but the naan was like a plain piece of pizza dough; too thin and I believe no ghee for richness.

    Service had a minor glitch in that they didn't understand my request to bring out the small plates in two waves, so all arrived within 10 minutes of each other. But it worked fine. Other than that, service was fine.

    I'd note that on this Board, restaurants that attempt to upscale ethnic cuisines often meet with a very mixed reception. Indeed, this thread started out posing the question of how this restaurant would fare since it was so different from a buffet on Devon Avenue. I'd suggest that if you generally have not responded well to upscale ethnic, stay away, but if you have enjoyed this kind of approach in the past, ROOH is definitely worth a try.
  • Post #5 - March 14th, 2021, 11:43 am
    Post #5 - March 14th, 2021, 11:43 am Post #5 - March 14th, 2021, 11:43 am
    The last meal we shared w/some dear friends in the before time was when I went to Egg-o-Holic and brought way too much take out to a park which we promptly devoured nearly a yr ago. Feeling emboldened by 2nd vaccines all around they suggested Rooh's outdoor dining last pm so we cautiously opted in. Upon arrival we were seated in a large plastic tent w/maybe a dozen tables and not my idea of outside. If that's it we're gone. I went to the hostess to see what could be done and within minutes they were unzipping the sides to the tent to allow cross ventilation. Thank you, we'll stay. No covid cottages for me.

    Drinks were nice- their version of gin and tonic and an old fashion were favorites. We ordered food and waited nearly an hr to hit the table. Under other circumstances that would be aggravating but I suggested the cutting of slack considering the plague which we did. All in all the food was quite nice, standouts being sweet potato chat w/tempura kale; cauliflower kolidwada w/peanut chutney; and the 2 best bites of the night, tandoori smoked pork belly w/fig-ginger sauce and whole sea bass wrapped in banana leaf . The sauce overpowered the fish but w/o it it was spot on.

    The lesser dishes were the dal and chickpeas, both rudimentary w/little pop unlike my much preferred versions @ Khan. The lamb keema w/potato mousse was another dish that didn't cut it for me. Similar to a sm shepherds pie I thought it avg and @ $20 as an app would pass. Naan was good as were a selection of ice creams. Pricing was what you'd expect for W.Loop. Dinner for 5 was just short of $400 pre tip. That's w/a couple rounds of drinks but the desserts comped.

    All in all a nice night out that approached feeling normal which I'm afraid is a while away. While it's not going to replace Khan in my lexicon of greatest hits/most beloved there's plenty I'd go back for.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata