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Friday, August 10, 2018

Authentic French cuisine

Slink & Bardot’s new first anniversary menu offers a taste of France in Koliwada

The Koliwada fishing village at Worli is not the address that instantly springs to mind when one is looking for French food, which is a rarity in Mumbai. Yet, opposite the Indian Coast Guard in this narrow lane as you take a left past the Worli end of the sea link, is a quaint bungalow called Thadani House. The venue, owned by Prakash Thadani, has been home to restaurants such as the Cool Chef Café and for the last year, it has housed Slink & Bardot, which offers French delicacies by Parisian Chef Alexis Gielbaum and Bar-Chef Nick Harrison, who launched the restaurant in partnership with Riyaaz Amlani.

In this short time, it has become hugely popular; at 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, there is no space to stand in the bar area and outside, more fancy cars keep trying to fight their way through, causing traffic jams that the sleepy village may never have imagined it would see. The cosy 110-seater, with its two dining rooms, a bar and a lounge, offers ample space for large crowds, but try getting past the bar when it’s party time!

Every empty plate that arrives at the table is accompanied by a vintage postcard depicting classic French scenes—certainly a charming touch. One of them quotes Nick as saying: “As a fifteen-year-old fishmonger selling lobsters at a local market in Ottawa, I could never have dreamt that I’d be kicking off a restaurant on the salty shores of Mumbai. A sense of curiosity and wanderlust pushed me out of my cocoon in suburban Canada and out into the world of food.”

Chef Alexis, who is quoted on another postcard, in turn quotes his own former Head Chef, Jean-François Piège: ‘On apprend la cuisine avec celle des autres/ A un moment donné on fait la sienne’ (‘We learn to cook through the cuisine of others/ Somewhere along the line, we make it our own.’)

“Growing up in Paris, I was blessed to have learnt many different styles of French cuisine, each with its own unique perspective,” the Chef explains. “From huge brasseries to quaint bistros and from five-star hotels to my grandma’s cabin surrounded by vineyards in Loire… I’ve never felt that any style was superior to another, only that they each play an integral role as part of the mosaic that is French cuisine”.

The chefs are celebrating the first anniversary of Slink & Bardot with a new menu. “It’s authentic French cuisine with a modern twist,” says Nick, when he stops by at the table to say hello. He also points out that though most people think of French restaurants as being formal and expensive, what they are aiming at is a casual, youthful, affordable space (however, some might say ‘affordable’ is a relative term!) Barring a few ingredients that are imported, such as the lamb loin, almost everything is locally sourced in order to keep the prices down.

Though most people think of French food as being ‘nouvelle cuisine’—often perceived, at least in India, as being very tiny, very expensive, portions of beautifully presented food—the new ‘Crème de la Crème’ menu at Slink & Bardot offers rustic, classic and contemporary dishes, along with tartines and salads. The portions are quite small but each dish is a gastronomic delight—light, layered with flavour, and authentically French, with no attempt to woo the Indian palate through heavy spices. Nick tells us that in Delhi, where they first began, audiences were not as receptive to such cuisine as Mumbai seems to be.

The meal gets off to a strong start with Mushroom Duxelle, Balsamic Reduction, Truffle Oil, Parmesan tartine (Rs 210), served with a delicate slice of bread. The Rosemary and Pumpkin Croquette is accompanied by a tomato and vegetable ragout (Rs 210). The deep fried panko-coated prawns served with tartar sauce makes a

delicious accompaniment to our drinks. (Rs 340). Then comes the Autumn Salad (Mixed Leaves, Butternut, Truffled Lentils, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Sherry Vinaigrette, (Rs 280).

Among the rustic fare, the Homemade Parppadelle (Mediterranean ragout, Parmesan, Espelette pepper, Rs 410) consists of broad, flat pasta noodles in a sauce of tomato, red pepper, onion, aubergine, lime and garlic and espelette pepper, a variety of Capsicum annuum cultivated in the Basque region.

One of the dishes that wins hands down, at least for this writer, is the Vegetable Waffle (Poached Egg, Black Truffle, Smoked Salmon). Waffles are usually a breakfast dish one associates with honey; this one is a rich mix folded with carrots, onions and zucchini, served with poached egg, truffle paste and smoked salmon. (Rs 810). Another dish worth trying in the rustic category is the Mushroom Vol-au-Vent (Puff Pastry, Baby Leeks, White Wine, Green Peas, (Rs 240)

The Seared Australian Lamb Loin (Truffled Lentils, Smoked Aubergine Puree, Lamb Jus, Rs 530) is also a star on the menu. “It’s served medium-rare,” the server says, putting down a knife. The Lamb is prepared using the Sous-vide Machine, which is now a familiar gadget in India thanks to Masterchef. It is served with smoked aubergine puree and lamb jus cooked with celery, onion and truffled lentil, garnished with crisp potatoes and an onion cone/shell.

The sous-vide is also put to good use in the Contemporary section, with the Miso-Glazed Aubergine Steak, served with fried potatoes, crispy okra, pear compote, toasted almonds and an orange and brown butter emulsion (Rs 310). This section offers a creamy Seafood Bisque with prawns, calamari, clams and a saffron rouille, a Provençal sauce made from pounded red chillies, garlic and breadcrumbs. (Rs 490), and another favourite, the Red Snapper a la meuniere, a classic French technique which involves pan-cooking with brown butter, purslane, and lemon juice. (Rs 490). Or opt for the dish that is simply called ‘The Duck’, pan-fried with black garlic jus and served with red-wine braised cabbage and roast butternut.  This is no ordinary garlic—a fermentation process turns it into a dark hue, giving it a rich umami flavour (Rs 650).

There’s one dessert option in the new menu called Mont Blanc (chestnut parfait, rum jelly, almond sable, chestnut ice cream, (Rs 360); the taste of chestnut lingers long after.

As you indulge in a meal that you will rarely find in Mumbai, sip on a variety of cocktails. Wrap your tongue around ‘Sitting In An English Garden Waiting For The Sun’, which is a concoction of gin, elderflower, cucumber juice, lime, egg white, and lavender bitters, and it packs quite a punch despite the overwhelming flavour of cucumber. And if you feel like a walk in the middle of your drink, or a cigarette break in the smoker’s verandah near the entrance, you can even step out to the fishing village and return with some fresh fish for lunch the next day. The friend accompanying us did this, and the friendly doorman at Slink & Bardot even agreed to keep the package until she took it home!

Where 329/A, Thadani House, Opposite Indian Coast Guard, Worli Village, Mumbai
When 7:00 pm to 1:00 am
Contact 7045904728

Independence Day

Tri-colour treats

Revel in the tri-colour of patriotism, Toro Churro celebrates 71 years of diversity and freedom with a sweet surprise this Independence Day. Get two  sets of Tri-Colour Drizzle Churros for Rs 71.

Make it double the fun; get two of each—Orange, White Chocolate and Mint Drizzle Churro's  on August 14, 15 and 16.

Where Toro Churro, Chowpatty, Girgaon
When August 14, 15, 16

Culinary treasures

Embark on a gastronomic journey of India at The Leela Mumbai as it pays tribute to the timeless flavours and aromas of the country with a special Independence Day Brunch at Citrus. With an ensemble of rustic regional delights, this soulful spread will bring together the finest culinary treasures of the nation. From savoury treats and tri-coloured specialities to regional delicacies and cosmopolitan creations, the brunch will also feature international cuisines like Thai, Italian, Japanese, Lebanese and Continental. A lavish dessert display will provide the perfect finale to the gastronome’s meal as s/he relishes the true flavours of freedom.

Where Citrus, The Leela Mumbai
When August  15, 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Price (per person and exclusive of taxes)
Brunch without Alcohol Rs 2121/ with Alcohol Rs 2970
Sparkling Brunch Rs 3395, Champagne Brunch Rs 4245
Contact 022 6691 1359/60

Freedom combos

Vedge Xprs is commemorating Independence with vegetarian combos worth Rs 71 only. Dig in to Vedge Biryani, a combination of Laccha Paratha and Punjabi Chole and authentic Veg Kohlapuri with Tandoori Roti. For  Dal lovers,there’s Dal Khichdi, Dal Fry and Jeera Rice with Papad and Pickle. Try also, homemade Mix Veg, Aloo and Paneer Paratha with Curd, Raita and Pickle at R City Mall, Ghatkopar outlet.

Where Vedge Xprs, R-City Mall, Ghatkopar
When Wednesday, August 15

Flavours of India

This Independence Day enjoy the distinct flavours of dishes from across the country and treat yourself with a wide range of authentic and delectable food dishes like Tamda Rasa, Alambi Ros, Avial, Ney Choru, Green Gujarat, Aloo Dom, Aloo Puneri, Vangyachi Bhaji and Chicken Cafreal at The Resort. Satiate your sweet tooth by gorging on traditionally made Tirangi Barfia, Moong Dal Halwa and Sheer Khurma while enjoying a stunning view of the tranquil beach near Malad.

Where The Resort, Madh-Marve, Mumbai
When Tuesday, August 15 (12:30 pm– 3:30 pm)
Price From Rs 1,799 (All inclusive)
Contact 022- 2844 7777

Quiz nite

If you think you're as smart as the Internet and enjoy some friendly competition over a few drinks, then Chili's is where you should be! Team Quizicia presents Quiz Nite at Chili's.

Test your knowledge with fun but mind-boggling quizzes and stand a chance to win some exciting gift vouchers. So head over to BKC and spend your Thursdays at the Chili's outlet.

Where Chili’s Ground Floor, The Capital, G Block Rd,  BKC

When Every Thursday 8 pm onwards

Khichdi festival

Khichdi, India’s favourite comfort food, can be a one-pot cure to anything!

Branded as India’s national dish, Khichdi offers a nutritious meal, detoxifying and cleansing the body, and is light on the stomach.

This Independence Day, Neel has organised a Regional Khichdi Festival comprising nine delicious Khichdis that cross boundaries.

From Venpongal, a classic South Indian dish, and Pahadi Khichdi, which is inspired from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, to Kathiyawadi Khichdi originating from Kathiawar and the uber famous Bisi Bele Bhaath with origins in Karnataka, Neel has them all.

For, the extra health conscious, there’s Bajre Ki Khichdi as well as the Maharashtrian Khichdi and Bihari Khichdi.

For non-vegetarian lovers, there’s delicious Kolambichi Khichdi and Karnataka Mutton Khichdi. Take your pick!

Where Neel, Nariman Point | Neel Powai | Neel Mahalaxmi
When Upto August 15
Contact 02266664013 | 022 49455555 | 022 61577777

Hot chocolate fest

Renaissance Mumbai invites chocolovers to delve into the world of chocolate with their Monsoon Hot Chocolate Fest which concludes on August 19, 2018. Savour the delicious varieties of chocolate in new avatars of spices and berry purees from different regions of the world while immersing yourself in the beauty of Powai Lake and  gushing rains.

Where Mumbai Express, Renaissance Mumbai
When Upto August 19
Contact 66927777

National S’mores day

August 10 is National S’mores Day so celebrate at Bastian, Bandra’s buzzy eatery. For cheesecake lovers, there’s the new smores option  made with a gluten-free graham cookie base, liquid cheesecake, dark chocolate ganache and burnt marshmallows. All cheesecakes are Rs 550 per slice, exclusive of taxes. Full cheesecakes are Rs 2950 plus taxes. 36-hour advance notice is required for bakery orders.

Where B1, Opposite National College, Bandra West
When Tuesday to Saturday (7 pm to 1.15 am)
Sunday brunch 12 pm to 4 pm, dinner 7 pm to 1.15 am
Contact 022 2642 0145

Binge on a budget

London Taxi is rolling out their first Binge on Budget lunch menu set at £3 only from their current range of dishes. The pub, home to an award-winning chef, offers a lunch menu of global progressive cuisine; so eat exotic at affordable prices. The cocktail day menu starts at £1. Designed by the award-winning mixologist Ami Shroff,  the menu also offers options in gin, vodka and whiskey. LT also offers a meal package comprising soul-filling food and mocktails. Incidentally, the London-themed restaurant accepts only the Indian rupee!

Where London Taxi, Kamala Mills
When 12pm-6pm
Contact 7710082222

Tropical collection

Yauatcha Patisserie is launching a new range of petits gateaux and macarons, the Tropical Collection. Toast the season with sweet inspirations—mango, tamarind, and kumquat. Petit gateaux include a variation of the classic Tropical Dome filled with mango pulp; the Pecan Coffee Delice has rich buttery pecans adding complexity to smoky coffee and the Sacher Torte is with sacher sponge, dark chocolate and apricot. Each macaron promises unusual combinations like kumquats and cashews, or special ingredients like butterfly pea flowers.

Where Yauatcha Patisserie, Raheja Tower, Bandra-Kurla Complex
When 12 noon to 1 am
Contact 9222222800

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