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Saturday, December 02, 2017

Located at the heart of Mumbai, Ustaadi, as the name suggests, has mastered the skill of preparing delicious meals and you can now savour their delicacies. Trisha Ghoroi drops by and is left awestruck

Located close to CST, the restaurant that was earlier known as Zaffran has transformed into Ustaadi. And the new décor has raw brick walls and dim lights welcoming patrons, with a lovely seating arrangement and antique chandeliers taking us back to royal days. The name Ustaadi, which translates to ‘mastery’, is exactly what the restaurant attempts to portray.

The restaurant is divided into 3 sections — a dining area, a children’s play area and a smoking zone. The dining area itself is divided into three sections, out of which two can be booked for private dining. What we loved about the place was that the sections have different themes, and the wall next to our table was covered with open books on one side and typewriters on the other, in keeping with the author theme. You can spot names like Mark Twain and J. K. Rowling on the bare brick walls. Other themes include musician, photographer and traveller, each with antique props.

Alcohol isn’t served here and so we decided to pick the Peru Mary (Rs 145) and the Coffee Mud Pie (Rs 195). The Peru Mary is a refreshing drink with a spicy kick, while the Coffee Mud Pie was served in a long-stemmed glass and had a thick shake-like consistency. Both drinks were enjoyable but not memorable.

Appetisers can sometimes make or break your dining experience as they set the tone for the main course. To start with, we chose the Pepper Mutton Kulcha (Rs 165), a piece of mutton served on top of flat bread called kulcha with some onions and greens. The kulcha was soft and complemented the mutton perfectly, which was spicy, soft and juicy.

Next we tried the Ghee Roast Chicken Tikka (Rs 330) and the Haleem Kabab (Rs 495). We love the soft and juicy ghee roast chicken and the wonderful blend of spices and the aromatic ghee flavour tied the dish together perfectly! The Haleem Kabab, on the other hand, was a let-down. Served on a piece of flat bread, which was bland and had a chewy texture, the kabab, even though spicy, lacked the zing we were looking for. My dining companion felt that the spices smelt a bit too strong.

Other than their signature Indian cuisine, they also have Asian and cosmopolitan cuisine. We started our main course with an Asian delicacy, the Bali Spiced Banana Leaf Basa (Rs 445). What we were presented with were steaming packets of banana leaves, and as we opened them, a lovely aroma of soft spices hit us. And, this was one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever tried! We couldn’t have asked for more than the soft and delicate steamed fish with perfectly balanced spices.

Next, we looked at the cosmopolitan menu and our eyes fell on the Ustaadi Signature Pav Bhaji Pasta (Rs 345). The name was enough to excite us and we ordered it right away. A slightly tangier version of pav bhaji mixed with penne pasta and, of course, a dollop of butter, made its way towards our table. The pasta was soft and surprisingly tasty with pav bhaji sauce. We also tried the Butter Chicken Bao (Rs 325), and if you’re wondering, it was a successful mash-up of Indian and Chinese cuisines, with a soft bun and delectable chicken.

We were spoilt for choice with the desserts and we settled for one from each the Indian and cosmopolitan options. On the chef’s recommendation, we decided to try the Ustaadi Chenna Payesh (Rs 145). This traditional dessert, made with cottage cheese balls and submerged in flavoured milk, was served in a martini glass and was a little difficult to eat. Although a speciality, it didn’t wow us much. The Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake (Rs 195) was calling our name, and we couldn’t ignore it. A decently sized piece of pastry, the mousse was enclosed in a thick layer of chocolate and it tasted heavenly! The delicious and indulgent cake was the best way to end our meal.

Where: B, Sitaram Building, Dr. D. N. Road, Near Crawford Market, Fort
Meal for two: Rs 1,900
Alcohol served: No
Contact: 23442690

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