A different pedigree

Updated: 25 November, 2019 11:12 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani | Mumbai

Mahalaxmi Racecourse's oldest restaurant, and one of the city's favourites, opens an al fresco section with small plates for a breezy meal

Bharwan gucchi
Bharwan gucchi

Very few restaurateurs in the city can boast of serving food to such a diverse range of personalities — Narendra Modi, Vijay Mallya and Avicii. And these are just three names from a long list of famous faces that Gallops, the oldest restaurant at Mahalaxmi Racecourse, has catered to.

"I remember when DJ Deadmau5 made a request for a chilled glass of lassi mid-performance, and then went on to publicly thank Mumbai for introducing him to lassi," recalls Mikhail Singh, son of co-founders Jasmine and Bobby Singh.

Chilli baked brie. Pic/Ashish Raje
Chilli baked brie. Pic/Ashish Raje

He, and chef Yajush Malik, son of co-founder Rahul Malik, have been spearheading the 33-year-old restaurant with their parents for almost seven years. "The restaurant is older than us!" the duo says. Both are hospitality graduates and have worked at other hotels before joining the family property.

While Gallops is known for its elaborate menu and family-dining ambience, Singh and Malik, who share a bond that's equivalent to being siblings, were itching to do something new to make most of a location which no one else in the city is privileged to have. An al fresco bar, with a view of horses racing by, and a wine or cocktail for company made perfect sense to offer to the next generation of Gallops visitors. The result is Gallops Al-Fresco.

Khatte mithe nadru
Khatte mithe nadru

"Even though we have a completely different menu and ambience, we didn't want to go with a different name, as Gallops is a landmark," says Malik, who has helmed the food menu, while Singh has curated the drinks. The original plan was to launch close to Diwali, when the winter just about sets in and a gentle breeze blows across the racecourse.

But the freak showers that the city experienced meant that they had to push the date. "Our biggest challenge is to honour the legacy of what our parents started. We have a strong set of loyalists, and our staff knows them so well that they understand who can't tolerate whom and shouldn't be seated at adjacent tables. But we also had to offer a different experience," says Malik.

Sound of the bird
Sound of the bird

"Many of our patrons don't place an order when they walk in as they know that our staff is aware of their regular items. For example, one gentleman who lunches with us every afternoon only places an order after being served seven different chutneys, and a fried and roasted papad. And our staff knows this well, just as they know our other regulars," says Singh.

While the old-world courtesy and attention to detail will continue as the motto at Gallops Al-Fresco, the menu celebrates everything that's fun and trendy, complete with Insta-worthy dishes. Small plates might be the hottest thing on Mumbai's bar scene, but Malik has ensured that each dish presents more than what meets the eye. For example, the root vegetable chips ('395), where thin slices of arrowroot, yam and sweet potato are first dehydrated and then fried, are crisp with minimal oil, and perfect to nibble on while you engage in conversation. Or the prawns aglio olio ('675), for which Malik makes a special aromatic oil emulsion.

Mikhail Singh and Yajush Malik
Mikhail Singh and Yajush Malik

Malik and Singh have gone to great lengths to source the right ingredients, something we notice with khatte mithe nadru ('470), a take on the now common honey chilli lotus stem dish, where they use a home-style lemon pickle as a glaze, and the lotus stems are imported from South East Asia; we found them to be bigger than the local variety.

The bharwan gucchi ('820), made with premium Kashmiri mushrooms, has a hint of truffle oil to enhance the earthy aroma they are known for. A must-try is the chilli baked brie ('495), where Malik bakes a brilliant locally sourced brie and serves it with rye toasts and cranberry preserve.

The duo has had a field day with this menu, evidenced in the dal makhani kiev ('470) where instead of the classic chicken kiev, you get makhani poppers with a burst of butter in the centre. Or the murabba lamb chops (595), one of our favourites, where the murabba glaze adds a slightly sweet flavour to the clay oven-baked meat.

As for the cocktails, in addition to the classics, you can sip on the refreshing sound of the bird ('850), a fresh watermelon and tequila drink, or rose sour ('850), where the classic whiskey sour gets a gulabi twist.

At Inside Mahalaxmi Racecourse, via Gate No 1, Mahalaxmi.
Time 6 pm to 11.30 pm
Call 23071448

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First Published: 25 November, 2019 09:01 IST

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