French Onion Soup
An hour-long wait for a table of three on a Saturday night is common for restaurants at Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel. Thankfully, in 15 minutes, we get a call to be seated, right next to a table with VIP guests. What this meant was that you watch plate after plate of food being served to them (pre-ordered, perhaps), while you patiently wait for your first course. PAUL, a French cafe founded in 1889, serves a selection of country-style and fancy bread, viennoiserie, pastries, cakes, and desserts, snacks, meals and sandwiches that are made to order and prepared on the premises. The menu is elaborate and leaves you spoilt for choice.
Australian John Dory
We started with the drink tropical haven (Rs 285), a kid's margherita pizza (Rs 325) and fettuccine in alfredo sauce (Rs 505). A perfect treat for the two naughties we went with, the pizza was hand-tossed, well-baked and cheese that could stretch for about one ruler scale - kids' math, not ours. The fettuccine was creamy and seasoned perfectly with mild herbs. The drink was a no-brainer with syrupy juice... Oh, and the pizza came free with a glass of canned juice. Sure, they know how to keep children happy.
We ordered an Australian ohn dory (Rs 825), a French butter and thyme basted fish. It cooked and seasoned perfectly, and served exquisitely on a bed of the creamiest spinach and parmesan polenta and white wine sauce that we had to pause for a bit, close our eyes and savour the sheer balance of flavours. We even sent back our compliments to the kitchen staff where a trained cook would have followed a recipe down to the tee - but then a little appreciation sure can make a long day on your feet, better.
On one of the other tables, we saw French onion soup served inside a champagne bread, and were tempted to try it. It took a really, really long time to come but the wait was worth it. A divine soup balancing the flavours of chicken broth and caramelised onions, with a layer of cheese swimming on top. The soft insides of the bread lent their texture to the soup as well. You could have just this hearty soup and skip all else, we say.
For dessert, we wanted to try the Ã©clair but the last piece waltzed to the table next to us. The children gladly settled in for a chocolate waffle (Rs 225) which comprised a thin layer of chocolate hazelnut spread on the waffle and a side of berry compote, vanilla ice cream and maple syrup; we went for a chocolate tartlet (Rs 225) - both were a pure chocolate lover's delight. The only thing that disappointed us was the cappuccino at the end of the meal. A big cup that was too milky to taste the coffee and the tiny croissant accompanying it was too small to savour.
The interiors of Paul have a Parisian cafe feel and they serve a selection of bread, viennoiserie, cakes, sandwiches, meals, and desserts
At 11 pm, as we stepped out of the cafe, the place was still buzzing and had a takeaway queue. It was drizzling, and as we turned to look back, PAUL's could be any Parisian cafe with black and white chequered flooring, high ceiling, mezzanine seating and English green walls. They have branches in 51 countries and are now in our city to elevate our dining experience. So what's the secret ingredient of PAUL's success, we pondered. Respect for tradition is the only answer we saw in the air that night.
At: ground floor courtyard, Phoenix Palladium, Lower Parel
When: 9.30AM to 12 AM
Rating : good
Paul didn't know we were there. Sunday Mid-day reviews anonymously and pays for meals