Mumbai Food: Ironing out the dishes at this Colaba restaurant
A revisit to a Colaba restaurant reveals a healthy buzz, but our earlier concern about inconsistent food remains
The first time that we visited Garage Inc was on August 21 this year, three days before the place opened its doors to the public. We remember sitting with the owner at a table, listening to her story about how she acquired the property on the ground floor of a SoBo family home, soaking in the old-world charm of the interiors. The restaurant had been empty, of course. But a few curious customers had peeked in through the door towards the end of our visit and were lucky enough to be seated before the actual launch date. Meanwhile, we had been sipping on a mix of carefully curated cocktails and dishes from different parts of the world, some of which had worked for us, and some that fell flat. And in the end, we had left with a feeling of curiosity about how this new venture that's tucked away in a Colaba bylane would fare once its "Welcome" sign was displayed.
The second coming
That curiosity was satisfied earlier this week when we drop by again, to see how things have shaped up in the past two months. It is a Tuesday night. So we aren't harbouring any great expectations. Nonetheless, the thumping dance music that greets us the moment we step in is unexpected. And the sight of nearly a dozen occupied tables is a bit of a surprise as well. Garage Inc has been discovered, we realise, while taking a seat against a wall at one end. But have they sorted out the chinks in their culinary armour or is some of the food still as ho-hum, we ask ourselves.
The cocktails we'd had the first time around, however, had been excellent. Both moon shine — a tequila-based drink with activated charcoal and edible silver — and ori-gin, with its fragrance of elderflower and earl grey, had left no cause for complaint. But what strikes us about the menu on this second visit (we hadn't perused it with enough attention the time we were hosted) is the price of their domestic beer. A bucket of four Kingfisher pints for Rs 550 is almost a steal given the stately surroundings and upscale location. So, we ask for one to keep things simple, since what we are more interested in finding out is if the kitchen has upped its game.
Tried and tasted
And with that in mind, we ask for three dishes to test the waters with. The first of these is a starter called Louisiana killer shrimps (Rs 380), while we ask for Thai street rice bowl (Rs 380) and sesame crusted pork ribs (Rs 465) for the mains. The starter arrives in a matter of minutes, and to be honest, we are always a bit suspicious of food that reaches our table as quickly as that. Shouldn't dishes that have been given proper care and attention take more time to prepare? Yes, the answer would seem to be, given the hotchpotch way in which the sliced veggies share space with the shrimps in this item, and its overall salty taste. And the image we are left with after taking a bite is that of a lackadaisical chef stir-frying some peppers with pre-cooked shrimps, and then absent-mindedly dropping an extra spoon of salt before dumping the whole mix in a bowl.
Louisiana killer shrimps
Similarly, the Thai street rice bowl is a let-down as well. This is especially disappointing because on our last visit, we had had a superb som tam salad that had been so authentic that we were reminded instantly of a recent holiday to Bangkok. The rice bowl, though, reminds us of any old Mumbai eatery selling "Chinese" dishes dunked in soy sauce, with even its blackish colour reeking of inauthenticity.
Thankfully, the slightly sweet and fatty pork ribs redeem our culinary experience. But the fact remains that the issues that had struck us about the food earlier persist to this day. And that's a shame, really, since everything else about Garage Inc has fallen perfectly into place. The interiors are gorgeous. The staff is helpful and courteous. And the drinks are both delicious and reasonably priced. But if the way to a customer's heart is through the stomach, then this joint holds no hope of winning any restaurant awards in the future.
The Guide first reviewed Garage Inc in August 2018. We conduct select, anonymous follow-ups to assess maintenance of standards
ON 9 am to 1.30 am
AT 15, Walton Road, Colaba
Garage Inc didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
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