Chef Sabyasachi (Saby) Gorai is not only an award winning Chef but he is also one of the few in the industry who commands great respect for his knowledge of food and the passion that he brings to the table. His new venture Lavaash is based on the Armenian cuisine that he experienced as a part of his growing up years and has quickly gathered many followers with rave reviews from discerning foodies and well known critics all over the world.
I have had the good fortune of gorging on the delectable food offerings of Lavaash in the past but this time round, I land up in Lavaash not to taste the food but rather, to wet my lips and more by partaking of the varied cocktails introduced in the menu by Saby.
I am personally very fond of cocktails and every time I go to a restaurant for a review, I would prefer a cocktail over a beer or wine. It gives me an opportunity to check the bartender expertise too. Sadly, most places where I have gone recently focus more on the presentation than the drink itself. There is abundant use of nitrogen and dry ice that may give it a strong visual appeal but most fail to strike any balance of flavours and the sugary ready made syrups hardly add to the taste.
For a change, the cocktails curated by Saby do not use any nitrogen and yet hold a lot of drama around them. The drama comes from the stories that revolve around the cocktails. Each cocktail has been selected because of some impression that it created in Saby’s mind as part of his growing up years. And yes – each drink is also beautifully presented.
Before I embark on a review of the cocktails, I have to mention that at a first glance of the menu, I was struck by the fact that quite a few of the cocktails are gin based – this bemused me a bit because, these days, Gin is losing its market share and most bartenders love making their drink with Vodka which has become the favoured base. My bemusement was laid to rest when I was given the reason why. No surprises here! Every creation of Saby can be traced back to his early experiences – Saby chose Gin because the first drink he ever had was gin and his family also had a stake in Carew Company that made Blue Riband Gin ! By the way, Saby also avoids using any readymade syrup in his drinks so that the taste remains as rustic and natural as possible.
I start with a drink called Smoking Chimney. Inspired by the iron and steel factories (spewing out smoke from the chimneys) in Asansol where Saby spent his nascent years, this is perhaps the most potent drink on the menu. With 120 ml of different alcohol in it including Gin, Vodka and Rum, just 1 of this drink is enough to keep you high for the entire evening. The cola and palm jaggery sugar doesn’t let one feel the potency of the alcohol. It is served in a long pipe type glass with sugar floss depicting the smoke.
Next is Mahua. Mahua is one of the most fragrant flowers in India. Besides having medicinal properties, this flower is widely used in country liquor by tribals in Orissa, Bastar etc. As per the popular folklore in the tribal areas, bears used to get intoxicated when they drank the nectar of this flower. At Lavaash, dried Mahua berries are muddled with 90ml gin, mint and lemonade. The drink is well presented with 2 cute looking gummy bears to convey the story along with marigold flower. Btw, Saby’s sister’s name is Mahua too.
Made in the frothy rice fermented tribal beer style (fermented in a handi), Handia is a cocktail which is not only beautifully presented but is a delight to drink. Made with bottled beer and 60 ml of gin, the bitter flavours of beer are cut down by honey. It also has coconut cream which when mixed with gin and beer, gives it a frothy look.
The night sky was always orange-red because of the 24×7 burning of the blast furnace fire from the iron & steel factories in Saby’s hometown. In fact, as a kid he believed sky was red in color. This beautiful looking cocktail called Blast Furnace has fresh mint and red chilly and is very well balanced with lemonade and tamarind that cuts the heat. Spiked with 90 ml vodka and topped with fresh mint with black salted rim, this is a not to be missed cocktail at Lavaash.
There are light appetisers to go along with the drinks, and I enjoyed the twice baked lavaash chips along with pizza that is made on lavaash bread. While sipping on the amazing cocktails, I could not help reflecting on the fact that while we all have had some amazing childhood memories , not many of us have the time to remember and cherish them. Kudos to Saby who, just like an artist – or rather, as an artist, has filled his canvas of plates and glasses with his memories and in turn also made us a part of his growing up years.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Drinks: 5.0 | Food: 4.5 | Ambience: 5.0 | Service: 4.5 | Overall: 4.5
Meal for Two: Rs 2000 | Wheel Chair Friendly: No | Credit Card: Yes | Alcohol: Yes
Address: Lavaash by Saby, H 5/1Ambawatta No.1, Kalkadass Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi | Telephone: 078270 44050
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from the restaurant. Due judgement and care has been applied by the author to remain objective and unbiased in the review, but readers need to consider this review keeping this fact in mind.