Casual diner by day and hip party spot by night, Houz Café Bar is rocking Gurugram by being all things to all people.
When you’re considering eating out options in Gurugram, the cluster of restaurants at DLF CyberHub usually comes top of mind. But there’s another venue now that is giving it some serious competition: WorldMark in Sector 65.
Among the clutch of interesting restaurants at WorldMark, the hippest without a doubt is Houz Café Bar. In fact, according to locals, Houz is pretty much the highlight at WorldMark, although the recent opening of Striker Privè next door is bound to give it some competition.
The restaurant is a gleaming metal-and-glass box flooded with natural light and looks rather inviting, especially by evening, its interiors inspired by nature and its elements. There are a variety of seating options available to suit every preference, from bar stools to low seating as well as regular tables. It’s an expansive space, spread over two floors with some outdoor seating as well. And yet when I visited one evening, every seat was taken. The place was positively buzzing.
I made a conscious decision to not bulldoze my way through the menu — which is an occupational hazard of the food reviewer’s life — instead choosing to order a sane number of dishes like any regular diner. But I’m duty bound to tell you that Houz has an extensive menu, apt for a place that’s casual family lunch venue by day and throbbing party spot with live music by night. You want it, they have it — from soups and salads to a range of interesting munchies to complement the drinks, classic continental fare, pizzas, pastas, even sizzlers for that slight hint of dinner theatre. As you may have noticed, I’ve not gotten to the Indian section yet. That begins with kebabs and tandoor items, and moves on to a plethora of north Indian curries, breads and biryani. Truly, something for everyone. And, mind you, it’s not easy to juggle so many cuisines and with such finesse out of one kitchen.
Since the kebabs were highly recommended by the staff, I opted for the charcoal-grilled achari chicken tikkas. It was a promising start to the evening.
In keeping with my intent to keep my ordering modest — but not unadventurous — I next moved to the Sea Marinara pizza, a seafood pizza piled with shrimp, capers, gherkins, feta and rocket leaves. A riot of flavours, it’s definitely my favourite new pizza.
A highlight of the menu is the ‘Legacies of the Colonial Era’ curries. These feature classics like Chicken Dak Bungalow, Goan Chicken Cafreal, Railway Mutton Curry and Macher Jhaal with Begun and Aaloo Posto. Very unusual and experimental for a lively bar, so hats off to them for trying. I sampled the Railway Mutton Curry with a delicious garlic naan. While competent in its execution, the mutton curry could have done with bolder flavours.
I sampled two desserts: the mango phirni and the crème brulee (the nolengurer bhapa doi I wanted wasn’t available that day). While the crème brulee was just the sort of comforting dessert I love, the mango phirni didn’t work so well, with the mango flavour too subtle to hold its own in the phirni.
Where Houz truly shines is in its drinks. None of the drinks I had disappointed. In fact, they were rather good. And the presentation is impressive — think lots of smoke and mirrors. I had the Café Houze, featuring vodka, fresh mandarin, fresh basil leaves, strawberry crush, orange juice, and sparkling wine. Refreshing and a great start to the evening. I wound up with the Houz No. 7, an even better drink, made with a bourbon base, fresh lime, mint, sugar syrup, orange juice and angostura bitters.
Other promising drinks on the menu include Pirates of the Caribbean, featuring three kinds of rum and a Houz New Fashion (bourbon, cinnamon syrup, smoked tea and bitters).
In spite of being a busy night, the staff was prompt and attentive and that really made my evening. Let’s raise a toast to a lovely place.
Address: 128, Tower 4, WORLDMARK, Sector 65, Gurugram, Haryana 122001
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
One dish we loved: Sea Marinara pizza
One dish that didn’t work for us: Mango phirni