Review: Italian food gets a contemporary twist in Prego at the Westin Mumbai Garden City

Prego may be the Westin hotel’s flagship Italian restaurant, but it’s good to see that the restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fun dining rather than fine dining is on the agenda here. I spent a few minutes in the company of Executive Chef Rahul Dhavale (who recently took the reins as Head Chef at the hotel Dhavale was formerly the Executive Sous chef at The Westin Mumbai Garden City) and we talked about new menu items, ingredients and the next step for the restaurant. Authenticity with modernity form part of the philosophy of Prego; this manifests as a casual and youthful setting, an engaging staff and food that makes international flavours palatable to Indian taste buds. Chef Dhavale hopes to add new and exciting items to the menu while doing justice to the old classics.

Prego with it’s spaced out seating and open kitchen maintains a contemporary aura that is reflected in the food. As an aside, the staff were chatty and engaging. Talking to them was entertainment enough for the evening!

Prego functions as a kind of extension of the Westin lobby and gives the impression of occupying far more space than you would expect. A glass wall separates the interior from an al-fresco dining area. For me, the gold lighting and coloured glass décor elements made the inside far more cheery, but if you like a cigarette with your drinks, you’ll appreciate the comfortable sofas and secluded feel of the open air dining area. The dark wood chairs and tables are devoid of significant furnishings; there are no tablecloths in sight! This appears to be in keeping with the unfussy atmosphere of the place. The restaurant has a smart casuals dress-code, but you wouldn’t be out of place here even in jeans and a t-shirt.

From the large open kitchen, with its wood fire oven to the rack of hand rolled pasta in a glass display, there’s plenty to catch the eye at Prego. The illuminated bar is definitely a highlight. All in all, the mood is relaxed and conducive to a loud meal with friends.

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Drinks and Food:
The drinks menu is decent enough if predictable. You’ll find all the popular liquors and a number of classic cocktails in addition to a long list of wines neatly categorized by region. Though we skipped the alcohol and stuck to glasses of fresh fruit juice, we were intrigued by the Martini style drinks which featured interesting ingredients like tamarind, coriander seeds and cardamom.

We began the meal with the usual bread and tomato dip, but the amuse-bouche made us smile. It was a clever item designed to trick both the eye and the taste buds featuring a dollop of mango gel served inside the shell of a quail egg. The half egg placed on top of a “nest” made from grated and fried potato. I almost wish I hadn’t known that it wasn’t a real egg, just for that moment of sweet surprise when I ate the “yolk”.

Smoked Chicken Risotto
Smoked Chicken Risotto
Our first course was a creamy Mushroom Soup served piping hot topped with chopped mushrooms. The soup was hearty and filling with that trademark roasted flavour that takes any mushroom dish to the next level. The appetizer was Roasted Goat’s cheese served with a beetroot marmalade and a mustard inspired sauce. When it comes to roasted or baked cheese dishes, I enjoy the firm texture of halloumi or homegrown paneer. Creamy goat’s cheese is inevitably bland for me. That said, the beet marmalade made the cheese more palatable. If you order this dish (though I’m not sure it was on the menu) don’t shy away from the sauces as some people do. The main course was Smoked Chicken Risotto served under a glass cloche that was filled with swirling white smoke. The risotto itself was concealed inside a layer of thinly sliced cooked chicken, so eating it was almost like unwrapping a present. Both the chicken and rice were well cooked and tasty. Some might sing the praises of long grained basmati rice, but the squat, fat grains found in risottos certainly offer a unique pleasure of their own. Though the portion appeared small, it was rich, I was left feeling comfortably full.

Chocolate Lava Cake
Chocolate Lava Cake
Dessert was a classic Chocolate Fondant sometimes better known as Chocolate Lava Cake. Ours was served with berries and a generous scoop of mascarpone ice cream. There is nothing quite like that moment when you crack open the cake and find gooey chocolate goodness spilling all across your plate! The dish is rich but extremely worth the effort you’ll make to eat it all. A traditional vanilla ice cream or gelato would have appealed to me more as an accompaniment, though some will doubtless appreciate the mascarpone which takes much longer to melt.

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For me, the cheese appetizer was the only low point of the meal. The Mushroom Soup, the Smoked Chicken Risotto and the Chocolate Lava Cake are all worth a second visit. The Mushroom soup was hearty and filled with flavour. The risotto was mild and enjoyable. If you’re not used to European food, this is a great way to ease into it and rice lovers like me need not have a second thought before ordering this dish.

The chocolate lava cake packs a decadent punch. You would think that a dessert this rich (especially at the end of a three course meal) would be a suitably tiny, but Prego is actually generous with the portion size. You might want to order this one to share.

The restaurant delivers what it promises, good food and a relaxed ambience. The space is perfect for hosting large groups and has something of a celebratory vibe to it so come here for group lunches or reunion dinners with friends. The staff is happy to help and even happier to crack a few jokes, you cannot stay morose here for long! If you want fine dining without the airs that often come with it, then Prego is the place for you.

What We Ordered:
Mushroom Soup: Rs. 750
Roasted Goats Cheese with Beetroot marmalade: –
Smoked Chicken Risotto: Rs. 950
Chocolate Lava Cake: Rs. 950

International Business Park,
Oberoi Garden City,
Goregaon East,
Mumbai: 400063

Disclosure: The writer was hosted at Prego but all opinions expressed are her own.

The Luxe Factor Is

8 Food
9 Service
8 Ambience
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