Friendly staff, bright orange and purple chairs, warm sunlight, and a little too much room freshener is what you encounter when you first step into Cocoa House in Vasant Vihar. Split across 3 levels, (lounge bar downstairs, private dining upstairs, and the cheery ground floor section) Cocoa House also has free wi-fi, a laptop you can borrow on demand, and even an in-house printing zone! Also, there’s a little bookshelf with an assortment of books and magazines – Fifty Shades and Harry Potter happily sharing space.
The menu has a little bit of everything, and from my experience that’s usually not a good thing. At Cocoa House, I was pleasantly surprised. We started with the Oven Roasted Tomato Basil soup (99). Unexpectedly spicy, it was also a touch sweet, and perfect for my Delhi-winter tortured sore throat. It came with biscotti-like garlic bread that proved perfect for dunking.
My friend wanted a juice from the page-long juice section in the menu, but were told the juicer wasn’t working. The Thai virgin Mojito we drank instead was immensely refreshing, packed full of the flavors of Kaffir lime and lemongrass.
Chicken shish-taouk (259) and Falafels (219) on mini pitas came next. The chicken was a kabab marinated in yogurt and five-spice, reminiscent of a shawarma, while the crispy falafel went quite well the smooth and creamy hummus. The mini pittas they sat on were adorable – crisp, crunchy and delicious.
The Healthy poached fish (329) was something I wanted to try the minute I saw it on the menu. It was a generous piece of basa, covered with sliced olives (both green and black), mushrooms, lots of garlic, and a sticky, sweet chilli-honey sauce. It didn’t taste “healthy” if you know what I mean – it certainly was delicious though. The Baby lamb shoulder (499) we tried was a braised, very tender, generous piece of meat on the bone, covered in a chunky vegetable sauce and served with a jacket potato. The meat fell off the bone, and even without the sauce, tasted great.
We also tried the vegetarian Thai red curry (259) –mushrooms, pak choi, and red peppers packed in a bowl; it smelt and tasted of that rich, spicy coconut gravy we all love, particularly on a cold winter day.
Suitably full, we almost didn’t have dessert. However an immensely entertaining lover’s spat at an adjacent table made us reconsider. Am I glad we did. The Fig, honey, and mint ice-cream (149), is the best fig ice-cream I’ve ever had. Each mouthful was an explosion of crunchy fig bits and swirls of golden honey, punctuated with fresh mint leaves. Even with my sore throat, I could not stop eating it. Chef Naval Sharma came out to tell us about his creation and said that the ice cream was inspired by a childhood memory of his eating a similar fig dessert served on leaves. The home-style Apple pie (149) was warm and packed with cinnamon, but desperately missing a side of whipped cream.
If you’re ever in the area and in the need for a cheery place to rest your legs, grab a coffee, or a quick meal, Cocoa House is ideal. But whatever else you do, don’t leave without trying that insanely good ice-cream.