It certainly was a year of plenty. Restaurants and bars mushroomed magically across Mumbai. They came, they saw our wish list, they conquered our hearts. There were hits and there were even misses that we aren’t missing, especially the irresponsible ones that led to the terrible tragedy at Kamala Mills. But one needs to separate the wheat from the chaff and if you’re wondering which ones make the critic’s cut, here’s my list of recommendations for the top new F&B outlets that opened in the last 12 months. These are the excellent establishments that will see you through 2018 and beyond with their bounty…
10. Candy & Green
The name says it all. The place has serious eye-candy swag and the menu is as green as it gets. Owner Shraddha Bhansali has come up with the concept that focuses on comforting yet conscious cuisine devoid of meat, eggs or preservatives and spanning various cuisines. The stunning ‘feminine grunge’ interiors by Sumessh Menon Associates make you feel good even before the food does! The al fresco section is great for sundowners (cue their bespoke range of wellness drinks, cold press juices, smoothies and non-alcoholic as well as potent alcoholic cocktails), while their roof garden and live walls growing herbs and other greens ensure that zero food mile produce is always at hand.
GO FOR IT! The Rubies & Pearls salad with mixed greens, pearl barley, pomegranate, hazelnuts, feta, green onions and mustard is as rich as it sounds, though still good for your health. The kale crumble tart with broccoli, sundried tomatoes and crumbled kale chips is a popular choice. Go for the gluten-free savoury waffles, the truffle mushroom flatbread and the sambal egglplant with sesame-scented rice.
Where: Hubtown Skybay, Breach Candy,
Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, Cumballa Hill.
9. KODE – Freestyle Bar & Kitchen
When Zorawar Kalra opens a new restaurant and bar, the city is all agog to find out what the twist in the tale is. Kalra’s Massive Restaurants opened KODE this year, which has made quite an impact with its high-energy Japanese-designed interiors. The island bar with a formidable drinks selection created by ace mixologist Shishir Rane, has taken cocktails to a whole new level. Apart from a ‘Liquid Chef concept’ that features a curated cocktail tasting menu paired with their eclectic food menu course-wise, KODE also claims to have the largest selection of whiskey in India. And then we’re told that Chef Saurabh Udinia explored three continents to handpick the most popular dishes and introduce some innovations to them to create a menu that is familiar yet exciting, distilling flavours and presenting them anew.
GO FOR IT! The unrivalled avocado carpaccio, savoury churros with goat cheese and a honey mousse, soft burrata, baked Camembert soufflé, butter-poached lobster bisque, miso marinated black cod. Eye-catching cocktails like the Birds Eye (inspired by a cracked egg in a nest) or the Forgotten Petal Sour, which embodies bittersweet love with its freeze-dried and crushed rose petals, an edible Pear soap made with Campari. It’s surreal and it’s sublime. And if you really want to impress your date, it boasts a pizza with black truffles and gold bits. Yes, really.
Where: Ground Floor – 11, Oasis City,
Kamala Mills – Entrance #2, Lower Parel.
Tel: 077188 82924
There aren’t nearly enough restaurants doing justice to North Indian flavours in the city, so it’s good news that this year has brought us some interesting options. Taftoon promises to take you on a toothsome trip along the legendary or Grand Trunk Road stretching from Kabul to Kolkata. Flavor Pot Foods Hospitality Group’s Pankaj Gupta and Abhir Dhawan, whose other offering include Oye Kake and Café Haqq Se, have gone a bit luxe when it comes to this BKC restaurant. The stunning open kitchen allows you peeks at the shining brass pots and pans that your meal is being cooked in. The geometric Kashmiri khatambandh ceiling goes surprisingly well with the honeycomb wall tiles and modern lights. Luckily, the food by Chef Milan Gupta has heart and soul and refrains from going the ‘modern’ way.
GO FOR IT! Their signature breads – the Zafrani Taftoon and the Baquerkhani (a poppy-crusted, leavened bread) – are hot sellers. And then, from kakori to galouti, they have all the Lucknowi kebabs you can wish for, including a velvety beetroot Chukander-e-Shammi. There’s also a Litti Chokha from Bihar, Lebu-Chingri Soup from the palace kitchens of Mushidabad, and a spectacular Makkhandari Kekda from Delhi’s royal families. Try the Kashmiri Gushtaba or the even more unusual Hamsher Rezala, Indian duck cooked in a smooth cashew and coconut curry, which is said to be an Eid special from Chittagong.
Where: Naman Centre, Unit No.2, C-31 &
32, G Block, Opp. Dena Bank, Bandra Kurla Complex.
7. O Pedro
They say Goa is a state of mind. But it’s hard to replicate that sense of time stretching to the horizon that people often attempt to box as ‘susegad’. But Chef Floyd Cardoz, Sameer Seth and Yash Bhanage – the Hunger Inc trio that made a success of The Bombay Canteen – have hit their straps quite quickly with this Goan bar and restaurant in BKC. Being masters of mood as well as food, they have given architect Ayaz Basrai of The Busride Design Studio carte blanche to create a very personalised Panaji-style bar counter surrounded by accents from traditional Goan homes and a laidback yet fun vibe. The menu, clearly curated after a whole lot of research, has all the usual Goan staples plus a whole lot more. Not only are there many vegetarian dishes, but there are actually enough to fill an entire separate menu that’s presented to ‘pure vegetarians’!
GO FOR IT! Sensationally soft Goan poee bread, baked in house. Slow-braised lamb xacuti with fluffy red rice sannas. A refreshing Red Snapper Poké, served inside a coconut. The Watana Rassa and Kokum dal eaten with fried banana bread. Sunday ice-cream bowl with perfect profiteroles encasing three wonderful ice-cream flavours – cinnamon, banana and Goan jaggery. Blue pea flower-infused Pedro’s G&T or the Pina Colada-like Baga-Lada with kaffir lime leaves and subtle spices.
Where: Unit No 2, Plot No C-68, Jet Airways – Godrej BKC,
Bandra Kurla Complex.
Chef Farrokh Khambata has been at the forefront of South East Asian flavours ever since his erstwhile catering service and restaurant Joss in South Mumbai decades ago. After Umame in Churchgate, Amadeus and Café at the NCPA in Nariman Point, Joss reborn in Juhu and Jaan in Dubai, his foray into a Thai robata restaurant seems like a logical progression. Khambata has collaborated with Thai Chef Piyarat Ruangsang for a menu that encompasses the best of familiar Thai dishes as well as a large helping of newer tastes and techniques. Architect Zia Shroff’s interiors blend the minimalism of Zen with a rich chic. Dusky rose meets dove grey on velveteen chairs and deep navy walls offset light wood in delicately balanced design. The food too, shows a similar balance when it comes to flavours and textures.
GO FOR IT! Off the robata, try the whole mushrooms with curried morning glory and herb cheese, the sweet-water scallops served on the half shell with a secret sauce, or the tender baby back Aburi pork ribs with a Thai coffee and carnation milk daub. A variety of Sa Khoo dumplings delight with their delicate wrappers. The Clay Pot rice with Salted Egg is true traditional Thai.
Where: Amadeus, NCPA,
Gate No 2, Nariman Point.
Website: Izaya Restaurant