Fun art and good food in the Playground at JW Marriott, Aerocity
The 15th day of February this year passed away in a blur. No, I wasn’t nursing a hangover of romance. Those years are extinct!
But amidst everything that happened (an early morning shoot that had me posing for the first, and hopefully the last time before the camera, whizzing into Aerocity’s stylish JW Marriott to catch a winter brunch with friends and a long, work meeting after that) I clearly remember how I licked the sweet Barbeque sauce off my lips after munching down a good number of delicious Hot 65 chicken wings. Yes, the taste stood out!
Playground is a brilliant concept. Because of the choices it puts out on the table. There is a quirky food truck, an al-fresco dining area, attractive wall art in the expansive social lounge and an exclusive speakeasy (armed with the mixology skills of Tzvika Furman from Tel Aviv), an entry into which is attained in the cleverest fashion. Talk of marrying technology, art, food and novelty, Playground has it all. Yogesh Saini, the brain behind Delhi Street Art has engineered the graffiti for Playground.
Treating the walls as his canvas, his artistic flair has translated into just the right amount of colour in the space, to complement as well as offset the classy décor. A handcrafted wall art by El Garbo, Monish Bali’s luxe studio, also makes its presence felt near the entrance. Art, I believe, is best seen to be enjoyed. That’s why you should visit the place to absorb the fun vibe yourself.
Back to the food then.
Exhausted and famished when I took my seat at Playground, I could only bless Chef de cuisine Rishi Verma for sending out a Herb Tea Cooler, a refreshing amber cocktail with the freshness of tea and vodka, followed by the Tomato and burrata salad. The cheese was fresh and its neutral creamy texture was juxtaposed wonderfully with the acidic crunch of tomatoes, in all its shapes and forms. There were raw green ones, red ones and cherry ones. But what I absolutely loved was the translucent slab of tomato consommé, rolled perfectly with balsamic vinegar, that melted in the mouth. What an innovative way to eat humble tomato and cheese!
What do you see when a humungous Tenderloin Burger is placed before someone ravenous? She wolfs it down without even bothering to note whether the patty is juicy enough or the sauces piquant enough. But not me! Because this Hungover burger was absolutely fantastic. The tenderloin patty was succulent, the bacon was crisp and the masala omelet was cooked just right. I enjoyed every morsel even while making a mental note of how the English mustard was deftly balanced with the Thousand Island sauce.
Playground’s cuisine is international and there is something for every palette. We were served a beautifully plated Balik salmon after that. But despite being a fish lover, I didn’t find it spectacular. It was a dish that might just appease a pescatarian but it definitely needs a clever turn to elevate itself. Vegetarians would love the Spinach, halloumi and purple potato croquettes as well as the falafel sliders.
But what the salmon didn’t achieve, the simple fish and chips did. Batter fried to perfection, the sea bass was fresh and well done. It whetted our appetite for the baby black ribs that fell off the bone without much trouble. The sauce that coated the ribs was a tad sweet, a tad spicy and unquestionably perfect.
Full and happy, we waited for the last leg of the meal. Desserts. The chef sent out a salted crème brulee and a Valrhona Chocolate cake. The crème brulee isn’t something you would prefer if you like your sweet dish to be sweet. Because it isn’t. It’s really subtle and I’d had better crème brulee before. The pudding needs to creamier, even though the crack was immaculate.
I cannot complain about the chocolate dessert though. Because there was nothing wrong with it. A squidgy chocolate fudge cake, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and cookie crumbs, I had a bad urge to call for a second helping before leaving. But then good sense prevailed. After all, there is always a second time…
Call +91 11 4521 2115 for reservations. Meal for two: Rs 3,000