Usually known for its burgers and meaty meals, Hard Rock Café is one of the city’s favourite weekend hangouts. Khevna Pandit dropped in to try their new vegetarian menu
You may be living under a rock if you need us to introduce you to Hard Rock Café. One of the most well-known chains across the world, the hotspot in Worli is home to a 6,000-square-foot space that can seat up to 170 guests. And, when it comes to the food, everyone knows about the variety of burgers and meat-based options that the restaurant has on offer. So, the #BeEdgyGoVeggie menu was a surprising twist on their usual festivals. This menu, introduced by the restaurant for the entire month of October, is sure to bring a smile to those who aren’t fond of or cannot eat non-vegetarian options. And so, with an empty stomach and an open mind, we decided to give it a go on a Saturday afternoon.
Going for the greens
To begin with, we were served The Carnival Vegetarian Platter (Rs 585), which was quite a feast! Meant to be a new take on the classic Lebanese platter, it included fries tossed in various spices, falafels, tomato bruschetta and samosettes stuffed with cheese. We loved how fresh and crispy the fries were, without a hint of sogginess affecting them even after the longest time — the spices and sauces blended well with them and we couldn’t help but reach out for one with every passing minute. The samosettes, which were crispy and full of chunky cheese, were a personal favourite. However, what really stood out was the portion of bruschetta, which was loaded with cheese and finely cut pieces of tangy tomatoes. Even though it looked a little too moist, the juices from the tomato went exceptionally well with the bread and we enjoyed every bite of it!
We were unfortunate enough to visit on a dry-day, but as it turned out, it wasn’t as disappointing as we expected. All their original cocktails-turned-mocktails for the day were bursting with flavour. (And yes, they were made with handpicked vegetables too!) We tried the Lemongrass Mojito (Rs 525), Wasabi Cucumber Reviver (Rs 525), Jalapeno Iced Tea (Rs 525) and Green Mineral Power (Rs 525). The Lemongrass Mojito was just like a mojito should be, but of course, balanced with soda instead. The Green Mineral Power, a spinach cooler, was also a unique twist to a regular mocktail, but I didn’t really fancy it. My favourite for the evening was the Wasabi Cucumber Reviver, which was a sweet, refreshing blend poured into a mason jar.
Leaves on the platter
Apart from the delicious Carnival Vegetarian Platter, we were also served two salads. The Pear Salad (Rs 395), made with freshly sliced pears, arugula, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and caramelised walnuts, served with a pear dressing on the side, and the Quinoa Salad (Rs 395). Personally, pears are one of the few fruits I can eat without a fuss, but something about the salad was off and the taste really didn’t appeal to me. Meanwhile, the Quinoa Salad was a healthy mix of quinoa, lime juice and chopped cilantro, mixed with arugula, topped with shredded Brussels sprouts, spicy pecans, feta cheese and raisins, and tossed in citrus vinaigrette. Even though there was a scanty portion of quinoa in the salad, we still enjoyed it more than the pear salad.
Moving on to bigger things
We were already pretty full after the starters, but the main course had a lot of surprises in store. The Lebanese Rolls — the Seared Corn Wrap (Rs 389) and the Ratatouille Wrap (Rs 389) were presented on our table. Rather heavy on the palate, the wraps didn’t quite make a mark. Besides, the smoky flavour of the eggplant isn’t something you could get used to so quickly if you’re not already a fan of the vegetable. A little less of the barbeque sauce and a little more of spice would have been a wonderful addition to the wraps, but maybe that is only because we Indians are accustomed to having different kinds of spices in our food. After almost forty-five minutes, we were served their burgers. The buildup was exciting and we couldn’t wait to get our hands on them. However, because we shared our table with other reviewers, before we could even try the Cauliflower Burger (Rs 425), it was gone! Assuming that it was a delicious delight, we tried the LA Confidential (Rs 399), Black Bean Burger (Rs 399) and Mexican Quesadilla Burger (Rs 399). The LA Confidential was a soft, creamy addition to the main course, but my favourite turned out to be the Mexican Quesadilla Burger, which had a fun crunch that couldn’t be ignored — another surprising addition of eggplant, but this time done correctly.
Hard Rock Café’s vegetarian menu turned out to be surprisingly brilliant. The cleverly crafted menu with deliciously disguised veggies will have you loving everything you hated as a child. We really wished this menu could go on beyond the month, but we’re hopeful that some of the treats will be added to their regular offerings.
Where Hard Rock Café, Behind Bombay Dyeing, Kamala City Mills Studio, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli
Meal for two: Rs 2,500
Alcohol served: Yes (a pint of beer costs `230)