The international trend of housing fancy restaurants in high-rise commercial complexes is catching up with Mumbai; of course, we are still far behind when compared to cities like New York or Bangkok in this poll.
Food First is located in the DLH building in Goregaon. A word of caution! This building has a strangely designed elevator — one that can only be controlled from the outside. So God forbid, if you are locked in, there is no way to exit some of these elevators.
While the parking and overall maintenance of the building isn’t spartan, the notions of a basic brasserie are shattered as soon as you enter Food First. With a high glass ceiling, soft lighting, imaginatively designed French windows and a massive bar, it’s one of the most ingeniously designed spots in the city. You can see a great stretch of Mumbai buzzing, while you dine. Just a small grouse — the bathroom is tiny for a place that houses so many patrons across a large scale.
But for a restaurant that is titled, Food First, the acid test will be the cuisine. Pan Indian cuisine greets us on the menu and while it offers all the traditional trappings of Indian food, there are a few exotic combinations that tempt us.
We began with the Cinnamon Caprioska (Rs 345). This refreshing drink is perfect to have during the warmer months. This cocktail is the ideal mix of lime sugar and vodka. It is topped up with soda water and garnished with mint leaves. The cinnamon adds the necessary zing, and we enjoyed every sip of it. The only complaint that we could have is that the mint overpowered the cinnamon and that lends to a slightly bitter taste. Recommended, but with sugar syrup!
A word on the service — it’s prompt, efficient and exemplary. Next we indulged in the Salmon Tikka (Rs 725). There was something special about the rich taste of these perfectly cooked salmon fillets. The perfectly drizzled salmon and the spices complimented the natural taste of the fish without overwhelming it. The Tikka paste combined with thick yogurt gave it a tangy, zingy taste. The spices added robust flavours to the fish. If you’re a fan of Chicken Tikka Masala, give this one a go. The quality of the fish was also fresh, which added to the experience.
The Whole Tandoori Duck (Rs 995) is the kind of thing that India’s glitterati have come to love. It feeds three people and can be served shredded on request. The duck, like it’s chicken counterpart, was well marinated and cooked gently without a single piece being charred. The meat was tender such that you could pick it off the bone. For fans of Tandoori Chicken, be prepared to enjoy this classic dish with creamy yogurtmarinade.
Finally, the Laal Maas (Rs 425) arrived. This traditional Rajasthani dish can be made as hot as you like. It gets its colour from the chillies used to cook it. Food First uses Kashmiri Chillies that impart the red colour but next to no heat, sadly! After having savoured the real deal at a royal palace in Jaipur this was a tad disappointing! The good part, however, is that the Bakar Khani (Rs 105) that came with it was outstanding. It is a thinner crispier version of the naan in appearance, but layered, and sprinkled with ghee.
The Dal Makhani (Rs 275) lacked salt and was a bit bland. Also, as compared to say, Peshawari, that has easily become the Dal Makhani capital of India, this one scrimped on the proportion of butter and the richness of the gravy.