+91 India Calling, Juhu Mumbai-Chef Sameer Bhalekar Shines!

Beetroot Tikka

A number for a name, the restaurant picks up the ISD code of India and converts it into a melting pot of cuisines from different regions of India. Postal codes precede the items mentioned in the menu which is fairly reflective of the wide expanse of the culinary universe of India.

Located in one of the inner lanes of the JVPD area of Mumbai the sprawling corner property leads you into an interior which is full of quirky and vibrant décor. India pop art is featured abundantly both on the inside as well as on the windows overlooking the main road.  The smooth and soft music allows patrons to indulge in a healthy conversation while they dine.

After overcoming the distracted wait staff I settled for my meal and was taken on a roller coaster ride of flavours that started with the restaurant´s own version of the Tibetan Thukpa (Rs.275). The smoked garlic and peppery flavour of the soup married with the slight crunch of Pokchoy and the buckwheat noodles did a happy dance on my palate as i sipped through it. The Avakai Mojito that was served alongside added to the experience. The punch of Andhra pickle in the mojito style cocktail gave it a unique individuality which made it stand out amongst the rest of the dishes.

I was presented with two versions of soft kebabs, one was the classic Baby lamb Galauti (Rs.525) which despite being soft and flavoursome, was brought down by the thick and dense base of varqi paratha. The second one was a vegetarian Allahabad Beetroot tikka (Rs.350) which had a hidden gem of crunchy chestnuts in its core centre. This elevated the dish far above its non-vegetarian counterpart.

The next set of started saw me polishing off a portion of Lamb Chops (Rs.1350) and a portion of Amritsari Hamour (Rs. 525) with a very interesting Chettinad Whiskey sour on the side that had used rasam and tamarind to bring in the sweet and sour balance and was a finely nuanced Indian version of the classic Whiskey sour. The strong Ajwain tempering in the Hamour was a bit overpowering but the freshness of the fish covered up for it. The star amongst the two was, however, the Lamb chops, which were interestingly presented on a potato base which resembled the potato mix used in batata wadas. The creamy richness of the Mughlai spices in the lamb chops was effectively balanced by this mildly spiced potato base. I really enjoyed the play of textures and flavours in this dish.

The Laal maans (Rs. 595) and the Gondhoraj duck (Rs. 675) were both stellar though I must confess that the duck majorly lacked the aromatic flavours of the Gondhoraj. The Langar wali kaali Daal (Rs. 450) was merely passable.

Though extremely full, the chef insisted on me to try one of his desserts and served me a platter of what looked like a giant orange modak. Scooping the first bite made me realize that it was, in fact, the restaurant´s version of carrot halwa. The ingenious dessert was beautifully plated and despite being full, I couldn’t help but polish it off.

Coming from the kitchens of Chef Sameer Bhalekar who was the man behind the fabulous Mirchi and Mime and now helms the kitchens for True Tramm Trunk and Myxx, the restaurant shows brilliance in smaller details which add to the quirkiness of the dish without taking away from its authenticity. The inclusion of potato base in Duck and lamb chops or the usage of Rasam and pickles in cocktails makes the restaurant stand out in the sea of modern progressive Indian restaurants. That said, the menu relies heavily in tried and tested clichéd restaurant dishes and chooses to ignore the lesser known beauties of India´s culinary landscape. Considering it as a teething oversight, I wish to see the inclusion of dishes from Kashmir, North East and Orissa in the time to come. India, after all, is a vast universe of some immensely delicious pin codes and it would be delightful to see them all being represented under the fine hands of Chef Bhalekar in the coming months.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Food: 4 | Ambience: 4 | Service: 3| Overall: 3.5

Address:  Om Satyadeep Apartments, Ground Floor, Gulmohar Cross Road 7, JVPD Scheme, Juhu, Mumbai
Telephone: 022 30151319

Timings:     12 Noon to 4 PM, 7 PM to 1:30 AM
Average Cost for 2: ₹1,800 for two people (approx.) plus taxes

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.

 

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