As a kid, whenever I went out for lunch, I invariably heard my mother say, ‘Finish your food, if you want dessert.’ And since then, the mind has been trained to wait for the best. On a hot summer afternoon on Thursday, I walked into Vinoteca by Sula, the newly opened wine and tapas bar at Worli. I almost missed it for its grey walls, and meek nameplate. Fresh smiles greeted me as I slid into a high stool-chair back facing the restaurant. A pleasant-looking waiter suggested I sit on the opposite side. “So you can enjoy the ambiance,” he added. Impressive.
The outside seating is casual, with high and normal tables. The warm maroon walls are adorned with pictures of vineyards and grapes. The bottle-chandelier made of green glass with yellow bulbs above the bar reminds one of a sleek and adventurous anaconda. From a wide variety of international and India wines, we settled for a glass of Cono Sur Bicycle Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Valley, Chile) — a rich fruity wine with notes of cherry, raspberry, plums and strawberry — and Ruffino Chianti DOCG 2008 — made from Sangiovese grapes. Both the wines were deliciously woody and well-aged. If the wine menu spoils you for choices, ask for a tasting.
The food menu has tapas (Spanish appetisers) and pintxos (skewered snacks available only at night). We ordered Salteado De Setas Y Esparragos salad (Rs 400), a combination of sautéed mushroom, asparagus, walnuts, and cherry tomatoes with cheese and white wine. The tangy taste of tomatoes was balanced by the fresh taste of asparagus, feta cheese and delicious mushrooms. Next up was Tapas Patata Bravas (Rs 250) — diced potatoes fried and served in a delicate spicy pink sauce. While the potatoes needed more salt, the sauce made of egg and mayo was a hit. We also ordered Tapas Escalivada (Rs 250) — grilled eggplant, capsicum cherry tomatoes baked in parsley and garlic. It was almost drowning in raw olive oil. On informing the waiter, out came chef Silvia, asserting this was the authentic, healthy way to eat it. She offered to drain out the olive oil and serve some warm bread.
Then we ordered Tapas Del Mar Marinera Grill Kingfish (Surmai, Rs 450) in fisherman’s sauce from Ibiza, ripened tomatoes with fresh garlic, prawns and clams (which were not available when we visited). The fish was lightly grilled to perfection and had the right amount of tanginess. Since it was a fairly dry dish, we had to take sips of wine occasionally. As they say, save the best for the last. The Pollo Ala Narenja (Rs 300) — chicken breast, glazed with piquant orange, herbs and liver paté and light soy sauce — was the winner. The strong citrusy notes of orange sauce uplifted the dish, teasing our taste buds.
From the dessert menu, the Lemon Tart (Rs 175) was a tad strong and on the bitter side. But, it was the Cabaret Shiraz Gelato (made by Amore) that bowled us over. It left us with a sweet, spirited high that was well worth the wait.