Indulge, it's all good
Smoke House Deli 2.0 offers an elaborate menu made from clean produce and practices. And, yes, ice cream too
Last week, we got a fat hamper, holding a card that announced: "The cat's out of the bag." It took us a few days to do justice to its contents — decadent brownies, airy sour dough, baguettes, chocolat au pain and a honey mustard sauce that won our heart, among other goodies.
On the second day of Ganesh Chaturthi, when the meme: "Dear Ganesha, it is supposed to be your visarjan not ours" did the rounds, the hamper sets us on a trek to Lower Parel. We spot the few cats that got out of the bags loitering in the alley of a revamped Smoke House Deli 2.0. The minimalist décor with new and improved illustrations in red, white and black by Priya Dali make the space seem more open.
Chef JD Mukherjee, who joined Impresario a year ago, looks chuffed for he has pulled off a sincere attempt to create a New World European menu along with a Goodness to Go (GTG) section that reminds us of our beloved Pret A Manger, the UK chain of healthy sandwiches and good eats.
Mushroom and bra saul rice congee
"The need to create a cleaner menu stemmed from our own need. We were at the airport and all we could find was commercial factory-made stuff, where for the sandwich to last all day, it was made with a certain unfit density. We dived into finding great produce such as baby carrots from Satara through our suppliers," says the brand head for all 10 outlets of the restaurant across India.
The GTG section includes smoothies, cold-pressed juices and kombucha and kefir. It is freshly stocked with sandwiches, keto bowls, and salads. Desserts include flourless cakes and mousses. We pick a harvest salad and goodness soul smoothie (Rs 150).
The salad which comes in a take-away pack is neatly tucked with greens, quinoa, boiled and roasted almonds, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes, and grilled sweet potatoes, garnished with black and white sesame seeds and a side of honey mustard. The drink has a blend of mango, banana and kale. Mukherjee has set into practice an improved cooking technique. "For example, we have an Asian-inspired roast chicken, where the meat is brined overnight in a citrusy broth and then buttered the next morning and slow-roasted."
From the a la carte menu, we try the mushroom and bora saul rice congee (Rs 295) that is perfect for a rainy day. It comes with a soft-boiled egg, spicy togarashi and a soy scallion sauce. We end on a bitter sweet note with donnie darko (Rs 180), one of the eight flavours of hand-churned ice creams on the menu. Why ice creams, we ask Mukherjee, who breaks into a childlike smile. "Ice creams are close to my heart. Wherever I go in the world, I love trying them and I felt that most of what is available here is just air," says Mukherjee, who has created flavours including coffee made with a special blend, and even a Cinema Paradiso by steeping the custard in popcorn. We dig our spoon for a generous bite. Creamy soft ribbons of 73 per cent Madikeri chocolate break the monotony; the threatening clouds and downpour outside don't bother anymore.
At Smoke House Deli, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
Time 11 am to 11.30 pm
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