Rooh – Chicago
A couple months ago, some girlfriends and I met up at Rooh Chicago for a Girl’s Night Out. I immediately fell in love with the food, cocktails and overall atmosphere that night and knew I had to take my husband back for a date night.
First of all, I have never been to an Indian restaurant that I’d consider high end dining until now. To be able to have a progressive Indian restaurant elegant enough for a birthday celebration, anniversary, first date or even parents night out is such a blessing and something we didn’t have around growing up.
When I walked into Rooh for the first time, I was impressed with the decor. It is classy, trendy and chic all at once with gleaming chandeliers throughout, plush bar stools and a stunning mural by artist Jenny Vyas, making a great spot for a photo. The lighting was dim and the temperature was warm enough to take off your coat in winter, but not overly heated.
What stood out to me right away was the music. It was easily classifiable as Indian, but not your typical Bollywood playlist. The songs were vibrant and unique with soft rhythms for the perfect dinner background music.
We decided to get to the restaurant a little early to find parking, but luckily they had valet parking for $15 (up to 3 hours and $20 after that). We got inside right as they opened at 4:30 PM and decided to grab two cocktails as we waited for our 5 PM reservation. It was a Sunday and 4:30-6 PM is happy hour.
All their cocktails are aryuveda inspired with such unique ingredients. The menu is separated by tastes (sweet, astringent, salty, sour, pungent and bitter) I ordered a Hydrebad Tonic (Tumeric infused gin, citrus, orange & thyme syrup, and tonic), which is a twist on a gin and tonic. It was so pretty and refreshing that I had to order a second one before dinner started. My husband enjoyed The Crawford, which has mezcal, pineapple, amaro, lime and agave. It was a little strong for him at first, but he’s also not a big drinker.
The food was phenomenal. If you love eating with your eyes as much as your mouth, then you will be pleased! Traditional taste with tasteful presentation and distinctive ingredients. Last time I went, we ordered mostly vegetarian and shared. I enjoyed everything we had. This time, since my husband and I are more meat eaters, we ordered 2 small meat plates, 2 large meat plates and 2 desserts. Needless to say, we were stuffed as we were cleaning off our dessert plates.
Great starter to much on while you wait for your meal. Comes with three tasty chutneys and several types of papad, which I thought was fun and unique.
Tandoori Pork Belly (Pomegranate & Ginger, Padron Peppers, Crackling)
I’m a big fan of pork belly and this was my first experience having it tandoori style. I was not left disappointed. The pork belly was tender and flavorful with the perfect amount of char. The small plate comes with three pieces of pork belly.
Gun Powder Scallop (Sweetcorn & Uni Mali Curry, podi Masala)
This was easily my favorite dish. The scallops were fresh and tender and the curry on top was divine. I wanted to lick the plate, but had to remind myself that we were at a nice restaurant. I did dip some of my papad in the sauce as I waited for the entrees. My husband does not like scallops and ate 2 of the 3 scallops that were on the plate.
Lamb Shank Nihari (Fresh Ginger, Rose, Cilantro & Chilli Oil)
We were both surprised by the presentation of the lamb and really enjoyed how it melted right off the bone. Tender with robust masalas that went perfect with out naan.
Whole Sea Bass (Patrani Machi) (Cilantro, Poppy seeds, bengal Mustard Cream)
I wish I got a shot of them pouring the warm curry on top of the sea bass. Sea bass is one of my favorite fish dishes so to have it with such a burst of flavor was a party in my mouth. I ate this without any rice or naan and enjoyed it as is.
Phirni Mousse (Cashew Cake, Thandai Ice Cream, Wild Rice Wafer)
This dish was unlike anything I’ve tried before. I’ve been trying to think of an Indian dessert to compare it to, but it was honestly in a field of it’s own. It had flavors of kheer, but also gulab jamun. Definitely if you are to choose one, this is the one to choose!
Besan Barfi (Chocolate Cremeux, Besan Barfi Ice Cream, Sesame Granola)
I didn’t know what to expect when we ordered this because besan barfi is so basic, but it was decorated with soft chocolate and hazelnuts, elevating the besan barfi I grew up with.
On top of sides of rice and naan, we also ordered raita, which was some of the best raita I’ve ever had. I really liked the chunks of avocado in it vs the traditional cucumber.
A waiter approached us nearly right as we were seated, perks of having an early reservation. The staff was so welcoming and sweet from the moment we walked in and their demeanor just reaffirmed how decadent the restaurant is. I rarely have exceptional and kind service at an Indian restaurant and have come to expect the opposite, so it was a breath of fresh air.