The Rhino Revelation
The new restaurant in Gurgaon combines great food, service, music and ambience to make for a rare meal experience
Like its namesake, which lurks solitarily in the wilds of Assam, Club Rhino — newly opened in Gurgaon — is tucked on the fourth floor of the lonely South Point Mall, a largely empty and echoing edifice of India's retail boom. Luckily for its patrons, the restaurant-lounge is well advertised on a big billboard, which is clearly visible on the city's Golf Course Road.
The entrance is an elaborate wooden affair, leading to interiors, again dominated by wood, with some copper lattice-work thrown for the sake of balancing it out. The dimensions of the restaurant are enormous, easily accommodating booths, table and chair arrangements, a limousine-long bar — complete with stools — with plenty of space to navigate the alleys of seating. There is also space for a respectable stage (the restaurant regularly has live performances during evenings), an outdoor deck and terrace sitting area, with rhino motifs subtly scattered all over. The music in the background, unless our ears deceive us, was tracks by Tool and similar bands.
Even the menu is long and elaborate, and makes for an entertaining read. After much internal debate, we decide to start with the Duck Salad with Poached Pears and Fried Calamari Marinara, and pleasantly drift into a musical reverie in the thankfully brief interim. The salad, comprising roasted duck and thin slices of pear poached in red wine, accompanied by lettuce lightly tossed in vinaigrette, is sublime. The delicately poached pears, the robustly roasted duck and the lettuce streaked with a tangy dressing make for a great mouthful, of which there are several, till our plate is left nary a leaf.
Squid is apparently an endangered species in land-locked Delhi, given the paucity in the portions of calamari in squid-based dishes across the city's restaurants, in which the fried rings can pretty much be counted on two hands. However, at Rhino, rings and rings of crispy calamari are splashed in careless largesse across the platter, accompanied by a zesty marinara sauce. We christen the calamari in the sauce and dispense with it in record time.
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