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2016: Mumbai’s year in food


From experimental dining to hyper specialities, the restaurants in the city upped the gastronomical ante

Discussions in the city somehow always steer towards where Mumbai’s restaurant scene is going. Everyone is always looking to try someplace new, or find somewhere close to home that manages to be consistent, but not boring. Over the past year, the city’s restaurateurs aimed high.

Nutrition and taste

Healthy eating is no longer confined to the home; chefs are considering all types of diets and indigenous ingredients while putting together experimental dishes for those watching the calories.

Bandra’s Kitchen Garden and Sequel are just two of the newest entrants to offer carefully sourced ingredients, which they put together in salads and other dishes. Lower Parel’s 212 All Good offers a range of probiotic food that includes sodas and colas that are made in-house.

Then there are restaurants like One Street Over, Bombay Canteen and The Table, where the food manages to strike a balance between eating healthy and tasting good. With the city only getting more active and health-conscious, expect to see more eateries cater to this segment of the market.

One thing to look forward this year is Pooja Dhingra’s next cookbook, The Wholesome Kitchen, which is filled with holistic recipes for when you want to experiment in your own kitchen.

Special menus

In the age of information overload, restaurants are also pulling out all the stops to bring diners back with increasing regularity. Whether that means limited time menus or more, eateries are increasingly innovating when it comes to wooing customers.

Bombay Canteen has led the way when it comes to putting together special menus; Last year, they did a Parsi special, a Christmas menu, and a two-day pop-up featuring dishes from chef Floyd Cardoz’s New York eatery, Paowalla.

The Table has also opened Magazine Street Kitchen, specifically for pop-up dinners, and it has already hosted chefs from New York and New Delhi.

There is one kind of meal that we’ll be happy to see struck from the city’s culinary calendar though. Thanksgiving, the American feast, has been adopted by the city’s swish, with restaurants from Bandra to Colaba serving up turkey dinners.

Taste of India

Considering the wealth of unexplored local cuisine that’s yet to make its way to our tables, it might be better to put together a feast that spotlights regional cuisine.

In a heartening move, there are home chefs who are filling the void, serving up Bengali, Assamese and Bohri fare to those who want to sample regional cuisine. In 2016, the city’s hotels and restaurants helped these chefs to reach a wider audience, whether its Powai’s Renaissance Hotel hosting a Maharastrian food festival, JW Marriott’s Lotus Café’s Karavalli festival, or Soam allowing Gitika Saikia to put together an all-vegetarian northeastern weekend menu. Similarly, in April last year, The Bohri Kitchen’s famous samosas were briefly available at Social outlets across the city, for those who couldn’t make it for a home-cooked meal hosted by Chief Eating Officer Munaf Kapadia.

We can only hope that more eateries choose to serve up food with integrity from all over the country, whether after chef-led research, or with help from today’s connected and talented home cooks.

Speciality restaurants

Perhaps the two biggest and best things to have happened to eating out in the city are the rise of superspeciality kitchens.

This year saw the launch of chef Saransh’s Goila Butter Chicken. Even Magazine Street Kitchen’s bakery has now become the de facto bread supplier to a whole host of eateries from Woodside Inn Lower Parel to Colaba’s Le 15 Café. No space exemplifies this more than Mahalaxmi’s Blue Tokai Roasters, which lists Magazine Street Kitchen, Café Zoe and Gouri’s Health and Soul as their food partners, allowing them to focus on the coffee, which is what they’re known for.

With international travel only increasing, expect to see more restaurants honing on the things they do best, from baked goods to regional dishes and more.

Experimental offering

Lastly, and perhaps most appreciated by the city’s dining public, is the rise of the risk-taking eatery. Luxury fine dining exploded last year, both within and outside the city’s five-stars.

Luna Gusta, the newest establishment at The St Regis, offers European cuisine and Shamiana in the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower reopened with a menu that will draw back its regulars. The nearby Masque at Mahalaxmi becomes the first stand-alone eatery to serve up only a tasting menu. Similarly, the recently opened Theory made an assured debut, with a menu of large plates that consist of only six items. Other venues that are moving away from the tried-and-tested include The Boston Butt in Kala Ghoda, Three Chicks and Bears and 212 All Good in Lower Parel, and Le 15 Café in Colaba.

We can only hope that 2017 is as innovative, raising the stakes once again as owners, chefs and diners all continue to expect more.

Into the drink

Tipplers across the city needn’t feel left out. Last year saw the bar — usually just left to churn out uninspired variants on classic cocktails — come to the fore. Throughout Mumbai, we witnessed well-thought-out drinks with in-house ingredients and a growing sense of pride from mixers. With Manu Chandra’s Toast and Tonic opening in 2017, expect to find interesting new cocktails featuring in-house infusions, shrubs, bitters and more on the cocktail menu.

Source: The Hindu

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