Belgian franchise Le Pain Quotidien was among the first Belgian restaurants to make an appearance in the city last year. French bistro Chez Vous popped up soon after as did The Table, with a mishmash of world cuisine and even as Farrokh Khambata's kitchens started churning out Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on Spanish fare, two of the world's finest Oriental restaurants set up shop, courtesy the Hakkasan Group.
Juhu's Greek restaurant Opa is the newest foreign-food entrant in the city but even smaller ventures like Churchgate cr perie, Suzette, Australian franchise Chocolateria San Churro's outlets and Belgian patisserie and cafe Debailleul at Prabhadevi have received a warm welcome here.
TV show MasterChef Australia's immense popularity added fuel to the fire, given the city's sudden proclivity for fancy, foreign fare, even as restaurateurs cashed in on the spending power of an increasingly affluent middle class.
Mumbai's palate seems all poised, and top chefs in the city seem only too happy to give the public what it craves -- innovation. The InterContinental's Chef Paul Kinney had talked to us about his experiments with molecular gastronomy earlier this year, Indigo, Tote on the Turf and Veda all, revamped their menus recently, and Le 15 Patisserie routinely plays around with flavours in a bid to thwart monotony and retain its fresh appeal.
The upcoming year will undoubtedly see more of the same what with a host of new foreign entrants expected -- a little birdie even told us Japanese Teppenyaki chain Benihana is practically around the corner. Quality rather than quantity proved to be the clincher in a city that now knows its onions, and we're not just speaking metaphorically.
It was possible to confuse a cappuccino for an espresso about a decade ago, but the last year has given us a crash course in culinary education for city residents, who now know exactly how to dot the 'I' in Sushi and cross those 'T's in T-Bone Steaks.
A lot will depend on cold chain management when it comes to Western food. Quality ingredients will be the key. I don't see a shift toward a specific cuisine, but you will see a lot more finesse in the dish served to you. The market is maturing and there's an appreciation of nuance. Restaurants will need an underlying trademark that differentiates them.
-- Rahul Akerkar, director, DeGustibus Hospitality, which owns Indigo and Tote on the Turf, among other properties