Fratelli Fresh Wine Dinners, Mumbai

20131029_215703A hill top hotel overlooking a pristine lake, a national park in the background, nature at its best far from the hustle bustle of the city. It just doesn’t seem to be a place located in the geographical centre of Mumbai. However located at the edge of Aarey Milk Colony/Sanjay Gandhi National Park and overlooking Powai lake, the Renaissance hotel and convention centre is exactly every bit that and much more.

20131029_223418The hotel has been a favourite haunt for the expat population staying in and around Powai and you would usually see many of them hanging out at its iconic Italian buffet restaurant “Fratelli Fresh” every Sunday enjoying its large spread and spending a lazy afternoon at the pool (the hotel offers and pool and brunch combo to its guests which works out as the best option to spend your day on a lazy Sunday afternoon). On weekdays the restaurant offers, both a la carte and buffet dinners as well as a five course set wine menu priced at Rs.2000 plus taxes.

20131029_210908We recently had the opportunity to taste one such wine menu designed by Ixora Wines to showcase their Italian portfolio. The evening started off with an effervescent Asti Spumante paired with a soggy forgettable bruschetta. Thiswas quickly followed up by a RossoToscano di Castelgrave (a mild rose) paired with Parma ham and honeydew melon, a combo which is always a winner. The soft, salty and creamy texture of the parma ham went very well with the juicy sweetness of honeydew and here too it shone beyond belief. Baked eggplant with cheese and tomato works well with a taste of garlic and a dash of extra virgin olive oil.

20131029_221114For the second course I chose garlic prawns baked with savory and cheesy crumbs. Even though the prawns were fairly good in taste, one prawn was undercooked which took the joy out of the rest of the platter. This we paired with a BiancoToscano. The white Tuscan Castelgrave was quite easy on the palate and fruity on the nose. For the main course I chose a chicken breast topped with honey roasted ham, provolone, sage and moscato wine sauce. This I paired with a Chianti from Tuscany which had strong fruity notes and was very easy in the mouth. The dish in itself was quite happy but the deli meats lend it an interesting edge. The sweetness from the moscato sauce was an apt accompaniment to the salty cheesiness of the provolone, though I did feel that it was a bit heavy on the stomach. But guilt trips do not ever make an appearance in a diehard foodie’s life. My partner ordered a vegetarian Penne pasta with mixed vegetables which was as boring as it sounds and had no punch in the flavouring either.

20131029_230909For desserts we tried the coffee pasty roll filled with mascarpone cream and brandy custard. This was surely a piece du resistance of the evening and certainly made us smile at the end of a meal which had few hits and many misses.

20131029_220409Though the menu was elaborate and the ingredients fresh and wholesome, I was a bit disappointed to note that despite these being an a la carte tasting menu, the dishes by the time they were brought to our table, were either not hot enough or in some cases dry. The presentation and the taste of the dishes, despite being their best, lacked that one punch of flavour which makes you sit up.. However, my biggest disappointment was however, not the food, but the wines that were paired with the menu. Even though the wines were pretty decent, they were more of the kind that one would buy and have at home while listening to music or catching up on their favourite movie. My point is that if one has to pay a premium price on a tasting menu, they deserve to enjoy the luxury of enjoying one premium wine, at least with their main course. It’s up to the wine sommeliers to decide which course should be accompanied by the premium blend, but if the objective is the showcase the real range of all wines, I think a fair mix of all ranges would go a long way to not only showcase the wine proficiency of the hotel’s cellars but also the portfolio of the supplying importers.

20131029_221157All in all, at rupees two thousand, a five course menu paired with interesting wines by a master sommelier (unlimited helpings) is actually a steal and people can give it a try, but at the same time I would suggest the hotel to put a bit more of attention on the varietals to choose and try to pair a fair mix.  Commendable effort by the hotel to promote wine dinners and certainly have a right approach it terms of the menu. I hope they can work out these glitches and work a bit towards the flavour of the food and I am sure to visit them more often for these offerings.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Food: 3.0 | Ambience: 4.5 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 3.5
Meal for two (Wine Dinner): Rs. 4000 lus taxes | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 6.30 am to 10.30 am, 7 pm to 1:30 AM weekdays and Sunday brunch from 12 pm till 4 pm

Address:#2 & 3B, Near Chinmayanand Ashram, Powai · Mumbai, 400 087 India | Landmark: Near Larsen and Toubro Powai. Tel: 022 30932030

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