Braving a dense office area, immense traffic, and a narrow bylane, I finally reach my destination at Auriga in the Famous Studio Lane near Mahalaxmi Race Course. The first thing that catches my attention is the unusual façade of the building. The geometric patterns both outside and inside the restaurant give the restaurant an inter galactic appearance. The restaurant sits on top of the lounge area which comes poignantly to life every nights and hosts special weekly nights for different age groups with different themes.
The restaurant on top, though sharing the same maverick design, is much subtle and with one very unique feature that would cause immense joy to the hoards of vegetarian population of South Mumbai – their very OWN separate vegetarian kitchen, run completely separately from the non vegetarian kitchen.
A food menu that runs across 14 pages and has a separate section for veg eaters and covers a myriad of East Asian cuisines, could very well convert a staunch carnivore into a vegetarian. Spoilt for choice and keeping my loyalty towards carne, I did the best thing that one could do in such situations – asked the chef to recommend his specials. The chef, who turns out to be a new joinee, is a master in Japanese cuisine and is quick to name a few interesting choices across the board, starting with a lemon coriander chicken soup (Rs.180), thick, flavourful and felt like something that a street vendor in Singapore would serve. This was followed by Thai five spice chicken (Rs.360), an interesting dish with strong basil flavours, one of those been-there-had-that kind of dish. The main course was something more out of chef’s field of expertise – Japanese sticky rice with edamame (Rs.300) and chicken and vegetable in home style mushu sauce (Rs. 460), which is an interesting take on the mushu sauce. I didn’t think the two paired well with each other but were fun to eat as individual items. My hostess of the day recommended me to try the dimsums and so I ordered the chicken dimsum (Rs.360) which were brought to the table on a hot place with a burner in the bottom. I was told that the dimsums here were made of tapioca flour instead of regular flour and hence they need to be served and maintained hot. I was impressed by the serving of the same. However the dimsum which indeed had a very soft outer layer, I felt were a bit dense in flavour and needed some major work with the filling.
The two things that really impressed me most at the restaurant were (a) the portion size, and (b) the order to service time. Huge portion size, good enough to be shared by two and quick order to table time ensures that an office goer would be served the best of food in hardly any time, would get time to savour the food, relax, enjoy some of their signature detox teas and still be back in the office in time. My partner had ordered their meal-in-the-bowl (this is their lunch only offer and you have to see the portion size to believe it) khao suey (Rs.480). I had a spoonful of it and I must admit, I liked it more than the dishes I had ordered for myself.
To round off the meal I was suggested a portion of mint and chocolate samosas (Rs. 240), decadent and reminiscent of the quintessential After Eight chocolates. I didn’t care for them too much solely because they were fried in a wafer thin pastry sheet and I could feel oily texture in my mouth which was a bit of a put off. Next I tried the Passion fruit cheese cake (Rs. 270), which I really liked. Tangy passion fruit sauce with a soft and creamy cheese cake, quite an apt finish to an interesting meal.
I believe the restaurant needs to work a bit on the Wow factor of its dishes and rework the price structure because it certainly has all the other factors going in its favour- Good ambience, great service, and lounge, soon to come express café, vegetarian kitchen and certainly a very interesting menu. The new Auriga certainly has what it takes to become a front runner in the restaurant lounge scene in this part of town and as is always the case is taking its soft but firm baby steps towards that objective.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 3.0 | Ambience: 3.5 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 3.5
Meal for two: Rs. 2500 (Without Alcohol) Rs.3000 – Rs.3500 (With Alcohol)| Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12:30 PM to 1:30 AM
Address: Dr. B.E. Moses Road, Famous Studio Lane, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai | Landmark: Famous Studio Lane | Tel: 022-30932030 Ext. 904