The Greeks were famed for owning the fastest horses during the ancient times. So it is perhaps natural watching fast horses and eating Greek food should go hand in hand. Olive Bar and Grill, the iconic restaurant at Mahalaxmi, may have had this historical connection in mind when they decided to bring Thalassa to Mumbai.
Olive’s owner and managing director AD Singh smiles when we bring up the racecourse and Greek food connection. “I didn’t plan it that way. I do a lot of travelling, visit restaurants looking for fresh ideas. On one such occasion, when I was in London, I visited Jamie’s Diner, a pop-up restaurant set-up by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver at Shaftesbury Avenue.
I was intrigued and thought of introducing something similar in India,” he says, as we dig into the dips, a part of the pop-up menu, which we are also previewing. First up is Tiro-kaf-teri, a spicy feta cheese dip and a Tuna dip, served with hot pita bread and fresh olives. We then go for the Tzatziki — a plain Greek-style yogurt dip garnished with a dash of green and red pepper flakes that is pleasing for the eye.
It is lightly flavoured with feta and has a fresh taste. The country has never before seen a pop-up restaurant that promises to remain ‘up’ for six whole months. How did AD get Thalassa on board? “I am a big fan of Thalassa and visit the place whenever I am in Goa. Also, they were keen on building the brand in big cities. So we decided to play host and introduce a new food-cum-lifestyle experience for our customers in Mumbai,” he explains.
The Horiatiki arrives at this juncture — a traditional Greek salad with tomato, cucumber, onions, green pepper, kalamata olive oil, feta cheese and sprinkled with fresh oregano. Next up is the Moussaka — a vegetarian dish made with potatoes, eggplant, spinach and mushrooms, and topped with béchamel, red sauce and cheese. The aroma is tempting.
Both the salad and the moussaka are yum. But we are intrigued by a pop-up that will last half a year. How will the concept work? “Thalassa’s owner Mariketty and the Olive team have put together an extensive menu. We realised that 10 to 15 days will not be enough for such a unique initiative, considering the effort and expertise involved so we planned for an entire season.
This has meant changes in decor, changing the style of service and the beverage composition. We will have a mix of Mediterranean, Greek, and lounge music too to ensure patrons get into the mood when they arrive for a meal,” he signs off even as we gorge on the mouth-watering baked red snapper, wrapped in banana leaf. The fish is steamed to perfection and melts in the mouth, by far the standout dish of the day. We wish this pop-up a long life.
Will chef Mariketty make special dishes for the pop up?
Mariketty and the Olive team recreated an entirely new menu with an abundance of fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked in traditional Greek style. There will be fresh seafood, authentic grills, traditional stuff like Souvlaki wraps and more. The menu will please both vegetarian and non-vegetarian customers.
What is the price of the meal for two here?
Well off-hand I would say around R3,000 excluding alcohol. The pricing at Thalassa Pop Up in Mumbai will be 15 per cent higher that the price of dishes at Goa’s Thalassa. But on the other hand, it will be around 15 per cent lesser than the Olive menu.
Any plans to open up a new restaurant in Mumbai?
A few months back, our plans to open a restaurant in Colaba did not work out, which was heartbreaking. Our new restaurant will be in the suburbs.