A pinch of flavour, punch for the pocket
A new restaurant in Juhu has decent interiors and good food, but over-estimates itself with the pricing
If you glance through the expansive space inside Juhu's Pepper and Pint — a new entrant in the Mumbai foodscape that has replaced the erstwhile Studs Sports Bar & Grill — you will mistake it for a fine-dine. Housed inside the Horizon building in Juhu, the 116-seater restaurant has a sprawling square footage, a wide bar, two cosy private dining areas and a mix-and-match of wooden furniture and floral-print, plush sofas.
That is not to say that the interiors don't convey thought, but it is only that they seem a bit scattered. It's a little like when someone wears print on print because it's in vogue, but goes awfully wrong in pairing them. The music, and relatively empty restaurant, sets sailing our premonitions, which in fact, works in favour of the restaurant — having not set very high expectations from the get go, we're pleasantly surprised at whatever half-decent plate of food comes to the table.
Don't get us wrong, though. The food was more than half-decent; it was pretty good, in fact. Take for example, the Kerala-style chicken pepper taco (Rs 350), a starter featuring medium-sized (somewhere between the real deal and the mini naans that became popular in wedding buffets in the 2000s) tandoori rotis, masquerading as soft taco shells. Within its folds, is a healthy helping of flavourful and supple makhani-style chicken with coconut, which has been finished off with a curry leaf and mustard seed chonk, to justify the use of the word, 'Kerala', we think, and laced with mustard mayo on top and a piece of crunchy lettuce at the bottom. Keralite or not, it tastes yum, and is a clever way of condensing two mains into a snack-worthy treat that is enjoyable with their balanced and soothing Mandarin-basil cocktail (also called santra tharra; we couldn't quite figure the alternate tapori-type names for all mentions in the drinks section of the menu).
The grassylit, or ghaas phoos (Rs 455) on the other hand, is more sugary than the name suggests. It is possible to get through the drink, but it is neither aromatic nor refreshing, which is what the description on the menu indicates. In the MnM pizza (Rs 450, the letters denote "mushroom" and "mascarpone". The thin crust is crispy, though the edges are slightly burnt. The mushrooms are the real heroes here, because they have managed to retain a joyful fleshiness, instead of becoming chewy. The creamy mascarpone helps balance the tangy, garlic-forward tomato sauce that the crust has been swiped with, all in all making it an interesting preparation.
Kerala style chicken pepper tacos
But the narangi kofta (Rs 450) from the mains is what hits the spot. Served with flaky lachcha paratha, a roll of papad and masala-dusted vinegar onions, this dish makes it clear that Indian food is clearly this diner's strength, even though the menu is a dubious mix of fare from different cuisines. The kofta has a foam-like silkiness, which bursts into pockets of flavour once you polish it off with the paratha, making it a rather nice ending to a meal we started with many apprehensions. But there is a qualm — the bill. Were the cocktails or dishes so thorough and skillfully made to justify the amount of money it claimed? No. But will we be back again? If they have discounts, maybe.
At Pepper and Pint, 2nd Floor, Horizon, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu.
Time 12 pm to 1.30 am
4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE
Pepper and Pint didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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