Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants: Rooh

A stylish Indian eatery serves up the best butter chicken in the city.

By G.A. Benton
Rooh's Paneer Pinwheel

Put simply, Rooh, which means “soul” in Hindi, is unlike any other Indian restaurant in Columbus. 

Unless you know of another local subcontinent eatery that serves prettily plated appetizers alternately featuring pork belly with chicharrones and sashimi-style tuna. Or one that concocts fancy ayurvedic cocktails, informed by an ancient holistic healing system, which are meant to complement modernist dishes with components such as “curd rice mousse” and the courses in ambitious tasting-menu dinners. 

The Short North establishment looks special, too. A stunning mural by artist Jenny Vyas welcomes guests into the restaurant, which is chic and roomy. The space offers multiple distinct dining areas that are variously equipped with plush blue or peach-tinted booths, stylish tilework, attractive wallpaper, decorative plates and a handsome bar. 

The Tuna Bhel starter, with a mural by artist Jenny Vyas, at Rooh

After selecting a libation from the flavor-organized, wheel-shaped cocktail menu—such as the Pink City, a margarita-riffing drink made with guava and spicy house masala powder—delve into the creative small plates. 

Aficionados of Indian food would expect the Potato Tikki to feature a potato cake (à la aloo tikki), and they’ll get that. But at Rooh, the chaat-style dish is rejuvenated with crinkly kale tempura, tamarind gel, an airy yogurt mousse and an Instagram-ready presentation. 

Other wittily conceived, photogenic and delicious appetizers use the word “koliwada” to denote crunchy, fried textures. These include an Indian-cuisine take on shrimp tacos and an alluring iteration of spicy fried cauliflower with molecular gastronomy flourishes plus sweet and nutty notes. 

Potato Tikki and the Pink City Cocktail at Rooh

The eatery’s signature entrée, butter chicken, might sound more routine, but it’s not. At Rooh, this classic dish featuring a defining butter-and-tomato sauce is elevated with roasted sweet red peppers and skillful cooking. This results in extremely tender meat, a velvety and addictive sauce and the best version of butter chicken in Columbus. 

Artfully presented desserts (often featuring house-made ice creams) are worth the splurge. 

Rooh, 685 N. High St., Short North, 614-972-8678, roohcolumbus.com

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