did not want to get melodramatic, but how could I not when I felt like I was losing my will to eat out. I had dragged my taste buds in the doldrums too. This was getting serious. They no longer wanted to compromise with the devil that says, "I'll give you two good dishes, for two bad dishes". A change of scenery was needed. And there was no coming back without being truly and entirely, satiated.
On this trip to Mumbai, all fingers and toes were crossed in hope. As I walked in through the big glass doors and gazed up at the almost eternal ceilings, with natural light seeping in from every corner, it was a good omen. Long space with tables on one side and an elegant bar on the other, warm wood furnishings, plush retro couches and bold black and white zig-zag flooring made the restaurant look almost surreal.
We started with some nibbles. Warm gruyere puffs were the first ones on our table — light and fluffy, with an uninterrupted dose of gruyere. Next came the Crab and Mango Salad, with sweet peppers and a cilantro aioli. Strangely, what I really loved was the lettuce on top. The lettuce juliennes and the saltiness of the dressing mimicked seaweed. Maybe it was my tongue getting ahead of itself but it brought it well together with the crab. The king of fruits, should have however, been given its dues with more generosity rather than have to compete with the common red pepper 50/50.
Who thought the unassuming dish of zucchini to come next would become the favorite. Not the first time I have had zucchini "spaghetti" but definitely the first time it has taken the grand stand. The zucchini, as the name suggests, is cut out as spaghetti, though they taste more like noodles which, I loved them for, even more. Lightly blanched and warmly tossed with butter, toasted almonds, ending with a generous dose of parmesan – simple sublimity.
I don't get to gush much, so let me gush away. The Tuna Tataki that followed looked enchantingly vibrant. Something amazing happened, as the sesame crusted tataki blended with the delicate tomato gelee, the creamy avocado and the lightly sweet vinaigrette. The freshness of it all was pivotal. And when the added texture and nutty flavors of the wanton crisps snuck in, I was smiling from ear to ear.
The Boneless Chicken Wings were, well boneless cubes of wing meat that stayed true to its fried, un-dissected version; bits of crispy meat, the rest bordering dry until the ginger-glaze gives it just about enough respite. A smart solution to a sticky situation, but to be honest, it just didn't feel that satisfying without the work.
If I had to be disappointed by any one dish, it would be the Blackened Grouper Sandwich. For starters the grouper wasn't ideal, after the freshness exuded by the other dishes, this didn't match-up. The "blackened" seasoning lacked the desired zing, which made it fall flat. Any hope of its robust flavor was further mellowed down under the all consuming tartar and slaw combination.
The Spiced Lamb Sausage Hash was a hearty, no-nonsense dish. A rich chunky tomato sauce enriched with mildly spicy sausage meat and fried potatoes. Upon which sits a perfectly poached egg. Don't just thump your chest in approval yet. Not without making note of the glorious pile of crispy onions on top.
The Herb Gnocchi a La Parisienne are not made in the traditional Italian way with potatoes but rather with flour and gruyere cheese. I was sold at just having gruyere in my gnocchi, imagine my delight when I realised they were still as light. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the light, creamy, mushroom sauce that used Japanese shiitake and shimeji mushrooms, which were both delicate yet defined in flavour. The final touch of tricolor confetti of carrot, parsley and pearl onions, subtly heightened the dish.
The Warm Chocolate Tart was liberal compared to most molten chocolate teasers that have been put before me. It delivered a gooey, delightful mess as promised, but falling back on its promise of morello cherry sauce. After the generosity of the tart, I was a little disappointed to see smudges of what I was to only surmise as the sauce. That rich chocolate could really have done with a heartier dose of a tart cherry sauce on the side.
However, my meal had bigger things planned for me, in the form of a Pain Perdu. Picture perfect little French toasts, pan seared on the outside, creamy, fluffy, vanilla scented on the inside. Drizzled with a deliciously naughty caramelised banana sauce, with the quintessential scope of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. Need I say more?
Owners Jay Yousuf and Guari Devidayal, along with their executive chef Alex Sanchez, have managed to do something quite commendable simply by making the fine dining experience, less intimidating and certainly more refreshing. Chef Sanchez's mantra of staying true to the core ingredients, taking no shortcuts is certainly working for me and I promise it will for you too.
Follow Anisa's food adventures on her blog, Mademoiselle Chou-Fleur.