On the way to Spare Kitchen, we pass our favourite joints, Alfredos and Temple Flower, and we almost stop right there to help ourselves to a beer tower. But today, we must enter The Spare Kitchen, headed by Rakesh Talwar of F- Bar fame. The month- old restaurant has come in the place where Bombay 72 Degrees East - infamous for its rave party scandal - and later Don Giovanni once stood.
We walk in on a Wednesday night. The bar has a fish tank; only the fish is replaced by colourful alcohol bottles. Cool! We say, in our heads. One section also has a projection screen and for those who are made to wait, fikar not. There’s a movie playing, too. The stomach craves Punjabi food, and we turn to our server for recommendations on the ‘ Progressive Indian’ menu, which also has Italian options.
We start with a Cheesy Potato and Leek Soup ( Rs 145) which is presented in beautiful large mugs on a black platter garnished with three cubes of bread croutons dripping with orange sauce. The soup is buttery, comforting and infused with sage and oregano. For the starter, we order Tandoori Stuffed Mushroom ( Rs 250) which is topped with orange cheddar. The first flavour that hits home is Nawabi elaichi ( cardamom) accompanied by a spicy masala complete with the juicy mushrooms.
While scanning through the menu, the Nizza ( Rs 215) catches our fancy. “ It’s the Indian version of a pizza,” the server tells us with great pride. We choose a zucchini and broccoli topping, and when it is placed before us, we have our doubts. Our procrastination crumbles at the very first bite. Naan for a base and makhani gravy replaces the pizza base and tomato gravy. We can’t get enough of this one.
With our main course, the Sesame- crusted Kofta in Red Gravy ( Rs 295) and Kolhapuri Chicken Naan ( Rs 175), diet and all dreams of starting one are tossed out of the window. The gravy is a bit too heavy for our liking, but the deep- fried koftas, laden with crunchy cabbage, carrots and potato, make the indulgence legitimate.
The naan, which truly captures the creativity and intelligence of contemporising traditional breads, is stuffed with a Maharashtrian dry thencha masala and shredded chicken. With our main course, the pickles and chutney are served on a platter, along with unchopped onions and a knife! And, while the food is served with great devotion, we chop our own onions. We love this interaction with our food.
‘The best is yet to come’, crooned Frank Sinatra, but we find it in the dessert, The Chocolate Fantasy ( Rs 475). On a long platter comes a Hazelnut Tart, Mocha Cupcake, ice cream, Jalapeno Chocolate Balls, and a cup of chai. We are encouraged to dip a chocolate spoon into the chai and allow it to melt as it to turn into a chocolate cutting. While the cupcake is too dry, the rest of the dessert is divine. The only ‘ scandal’ this place will stir is over its splendid food.