Mumbai Food: First look at new modern American diner in Bandra
First Look: The aromas of New York's five boroughs come to life in the heart of Bandra at a new modern American diner
"Let's begin with the carpets," Aastha Gupta tells us, pointing to a wave of warm orange on the floor. The co-owner is dressed in easy palazzos and a deep-blue-coloured buttoned top, which matches the walls. The blue, along with the fabric lamps and red American dinner sofas on the first floor would remind one of a New York loft, and it should, for It Happened In New York is Aastha and her husband Manashwi's ode to the Big Apple, right in the heart of Bandra.
Chargrilled-Tenderloin/Burger. Pics/Satej Shinde
The three-storeyed restaurant, spread across 2,700 square feet and inspired by New York's contemporary dining scene and a craft cocktail bar, opens its doors on Monday, and hopes to transport the customer to a Brooklyn deli with its ground floor arty drawing room setting, and a community table.
New York, New York
The open seating area upstairs is the New York-obsessed couple's version of Central Park, which has potted plants to create some privacy from the surrounding buildings. The passionate foodies took a break from their family business of carpets in Bhadohi, four years ago.
The duo has got on board consulting chef Kartikeya Ratan, whose last stint was as a line cook in Daniel Humm's three Michelin-star restaurant, 11 Madison Park. Over the phone, she tells us, "In this menu, we pay tribute to the people and things that make New York, New York." Think halal food, Smorgasburg, the flea food market in Brooklyn, and Dominique Ansel who introduced cronuts. The menu is also greatly influenced by Gray's Papaya, a hotdog joint in NY. Another addition is vegetable-forward dishes. "New York chefs are creating vegetable-centric menus. It's a rage," she adds.
Aastha and Manashwi Gupta
We clamber onto the high chairs at the community table, as executive chef Sanyo Vaz walks out with a colourful dish of mini Rainbow Bagels in two versions — Cream Cheese and Quail Egg. The pink, sky blue and yellow coloured bagels are sweet and go well with the savoury cream cheese and capers. The surprise element is a quail version with pepper. While these are not on the menu, who knows the chef might just surprise you with a tasting.
Rolled in a New York Times printed parchment paper, we munch on three Popped Corn flavours — Truffle and Rosemary (`300), Moringa and Caramel (`250), and Furikake (Japanese seasoning of dried and ground fish) and Bonito Butter (`280). We crave a little more of truffle in the popcorn, but can't resist reaching out for the desi moringa pairing with caramel. It's fresh and sticky. The furikake is a better, sea-saltier version of the classic.
Appeal on my plate
We love the presentation of the two tacos — Baja Fish (`390) and Jalapeno Stuffed with Salsa (`330). The soft tortilla is made with two types of flour — corn and black rice. We sip on a Port Wine Cobbler (`650) with orchard syrup, fresh fruits, herbs and ice. Move over sangria.
The Grain Story (Rs 580), a salad bowl of five grains with curried cauliflower couscous, charrel fennel salad, brussel sprouts, roasted kale and pesto bocconcini is stacked in rows, and the server gives it a thorough mix before offering us a spoonful. Flavours take their cue, one on top of the other, on our palate, as the crunchy honey dipped kale, tangy couscous and the earthy grains make a filling meal.
Bar mixologist Nitin Tiwari has divided the cocktail menu into eight chapters inspired from Bar-Tender's Guide written in the 1800s by American Professor Jerry Thomas. We begin with a Santana Sour (`650) made using tequila, pink grapefruit, pineapple and lime. The tequila hits us hard. All the grapefruit and pineapple can do is offer first aid.
Our palates cleansed, it's time for the Chargrilled Tenderloin Burger with a sriracha mayo, romaine and cheddar cheese. The medium-rare patty is meaty; it is wholesome yet not overwhelming. The brioche bun gives it a tender crumb. We wash it down with a Marigold Fizz. The flowery addition makes it an enjoyable gin drink, with sugar, lime and an egg white head.
Last, we attack the Cookie Monster (`470). Neither knife nor fork can crack its head, but a bite crumbles the buttery, chocochip-laden skull as it bleeds vanilla. New York, bring it on!
Opens on : December 5
At: Plot No 68, opposite Starbucks,
behind Lilavati Hospital, Chapel Road,
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