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This chic tapas bar is Aerocity's king of small treats in New Delhi

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This chic tapas bar is Aerocity's king of small treats in New Delhi

For a standalone restaurant, La Roca is ambitious - its plush Spanish villa decor says it; so does its impressively lined up bar.

Some time back, when I had compared the Worldmark complex at the New Delhi Aerocity to Singapore's Clark Quay, I was a bit nervous. The conventional wisdom has been that nothing should be said in haste about the Aerocity because it has taken a long time to take off.

Worldmark's restaurants, though, have been quicker, buoyed by the executives working in the many offices of MNCs and global agencies that have sprouted in the area as well as hotel guests, who now have multiple cuisine options lined up within less than a kilometre of their rooms.

In the past, I have heaped praise on three Worldmark restaurants that got my attention - Plum by Bent Chair (Priyank Sukhija and Natasha Jain), Kylin Experience (Saurabh Khanijo) and Farzi Cafe (Vishal Anand). Today, I am writing about La Roca, which marks the entry of Dinesh Arora, after his phenomenal success with Unplugged, into the world of casual fine dining. He has found an able deputy in Varun Duggal, who brings with him years of experience gained at Lite Bite Foods and Massive Restaurants, and they have found a young chef, Akshay Bharadwaj, formerly with Whisky Samba, who's prepared a menu that actualises their vision of running an upmarket tapas restaurant (tapas, incidentally, is Spanish for small bites, but Akshay has stretched the definition of the world to include some very creative dim sum and sushi).

For a standalone restaurant, La Roca is ambitious - its plush Spanish villa decor says it; so does its impressively lined up bar, where I came across an exceptionally well-aged eight-year-old Mexican rum named El Ron Prohibido (a blend aged in raisin barrels - interesting!).

The chef's menu measures up to the expectations raised by the look of the place - from salmon carpaccio drizzled with the Thai fish paste (nam pla) to mushroom hargao redolent of truffle oil, to a brilliantly inventive nigiri, where the expected topping of raw fish is replaced by fried enoki mushrooms, and three equally memorable dishes - lamb chops made in the Korean style and served with a fingerlickingly good 'acid mash'; risotto with a trio of mushroom; and grilled baby octopus with carrot puree (if you're squeamish about octopus, this one will cure you of it).