The first thing that hits you as you enter the sprawling first floor unit of the recently open Indigo and Neel All day, in Powai, is the sense of vast space! The restaurant has utilized its space cleverly separating the two spaces with a wall that quite artfully uses niches to display beautiful bottles and artefacts adding to its marketplace café kind of charm.
The day we visited the restaurant, the city of Mumbai was reeling with incessant rains and traffic snarls. Wet to the core I made my way towards the Neel side of the restaurant only to find that the air condition on this part was turned quite low, but as I rubbed my hands, Chef Mukhtar walked up with a steaming cup of Dhanewal Murg ka Shorba. The hot aromatic and peppery soup was quick to put me at ease and I was ready for the massive tasting that was to follow.
Tasting portions of the starters were quick to follow and I was floored by the Charbagh Murgh Pasanda and the Allepy Aloo. The Chicken in the Murgh Pasanda was cooked to perfection and I could cut through the juicy pieces with my fork. The marinade was flavoursome without being overly spicy. Similarly the spice quotient of the Allepy Aloo showcased the flavours of Kerala. The squids were also quite soft where the coconut flakes added to its sweetness. While my partner loved the Munnar Roast Mutton, I found it to be a bit chewy and hence it was the least favourite of all my starters.
Of the mains, the two dishes which had me floored were the creamy sweetish Meen Moilee and the Desi Bhoona Gosht that reminded me of the Bengali Kosha Mangsho. Both these dishes packed quite a punch in terms of the flavours. Similarly, among the vegetarian dishes, the Kabul ki Daal was surely the star. The creamy and tangy black daal equates well with the utterly famous Daal Bukhara from the ITC Stables. The accompanying breads were equally as delightful, my personal favourite being the Kaftan bread which was soft, sweet and a worthy side to the flavoursome dishes.
The final piece du resistance was a line-up of some spectacular desserts, the first of which was the restaurant´s version the Hyderabadi Double ka Meetha, which they serve like a pie covered with pastry sheets. Though the Pan Gulkand Ice cream was nice, I though the version here to be weak as I have had better versions. The best of this lot was the piping hot Gulab Jamun – soft, sweet and oooh so delicious. I just couldn’t get enough of the same.
Neel stands out, not because it follows the style and standards set by Indigo, but also because it has managed to squeeze into its menu a journey through the length and breadth of India without adding too much of contemporariness to the traditional flavours. It also scores by making sure that the dishes appeal to both the Indian and the western palates alike keeping a fair balance between the spice and flavour.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 4| Service: 4 | Ambience: 4 | Overall: 4
Timings: 12 noon to 12.30 am | Price for two: Rs.2000 plus taxes |Alcohol: Yes | Disabled friendly: No
Address: 101, First Floor, Sentinel Building, Adi Sankaracharya Marg, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, Mumbai -76| Tel: 02249455555 / 7506425005
(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.)