Food: Find out if Mumbai's first Aussie eatery is worth a visit
Mumbai's first Aussie eatery opened shutters, and we thought who better than someone from Down Under to play critic. The Deputy Consul General of Australia (no less) tells you if Estella is worth your time
Grilled Tasmanian Scallops
WHEN you step into Estella, the newest luxury dining space in the city, it feels like you're leaving behind the chaotic mess that is Mumbai and stepping right onto a sunny beach in Australia, with the crashing waves and salt-tinged air for company. The restaurant, which serves modern Australian cuisine, is the newest venture by Silver Beach Entertainment and Hospitality, which also runs Silver Beach Cafe, Nom Nom and Radio Bar.
The continent down under has always captivated the fancy of Indians, but more so, after the explosion of the Masterchef Australia series. So when we got an invite to visit Estella, we thought it would be interesting to ask the Deputy Consul General of Australia, Joanne Lovejoy, to join us for dinner and give us insight into the cuisine.
(Above) Chef Rohan D’Souza (right) chats with Deputy Consul General of Australia Joanne Lovejoy and the reporter
The first thing she noticed, she shares, is that the sea-facing space — all clean lines and wood accents — has been designed to resemble a beachside bistro, taking her back to the Australian coast.
Having been in Mumbai for 14 months, Lovejoy misses the food of her homeland. "I've tried cooking here, but because of the difference in the taste of the produce or due to its unavailability, the dishes never turn out quite right," she says.
We order our drinks — Sangria for Lovejoy and Champagne Margarita for us — and get to perusing the food menu. However, owing to the ambient-yet-dim lighting in the space, we end up using our cellphone flashlights to read the menu.
Blueberry and lavender vien
Our orders placed, we get back to our conversation. It's difficult to nail the definition of modern Australian cuisine, Lovejoy tells us. "The fare is a mix of influences, drawing from indigenous as well as Asian flavours. There are fewer rules when it comes to what goes in it," she adds. This has given chef Rohan D'Souza, who helms the kitchen at Estella, ample room to play around with flavours and pairings. As expected, the menu is seafood-heavy, but also features proteins such as chicken and lamb.
Our first appetiser, the Grilled Tasmanian Scallops (Rs 850), come lightly coated in a miso honey cream and topped with carrot foam. Although the combination sounds horrifying in theory, D'Souza manages to let the freshness of the scallops shine, with the miso and honey lifting the dish. The other appetisers, although good, don't quite match up to this one. The Pan Flashed Chicken and Wild Mushroom Chicken Bites (Rs 550) — unremarkable chicken patties — are paired with a lovely cherry tomato goat cheese compote.
We pick four mains and, yet again, it's the first one we end up liking the most. The John Dory (Rs 1,100) is pan-flashed and treated with little else, letting the freshness of the fish speak for the dish. The Cauliflower and Blue Cheese Cannelloni (R850) impresses with a cheesy punch coming through in bursts. The Baked Mud Crab and Ricotta (Rs 1,650), would have been a winner if it wasn't for the overcooked risotto that came with it.
Among the desserts, the Blueberry and Lavender Viennese Shortbread with Rose Petal Pannacotta (Rs 575; centre pic) gets our vote for its subtle floral overtones.
Estella has the first mover advantage, being the only restaurant in the city serving this cuisine, and Lovejoy believes it will do well with an expat clientele. D'Souza — who we believe is an underrated chef — has done his research, ensuring the food comes as close as possible to the real deal.
The island bar on the deck. Pic/Shadab Khan
When we ask Lovejoy if she'd make the trek all the way from her home in South Mumbai to Juhu, she says, "I would, because there is a sense of familiarity to the place. For an hour or two, I get to pretend I'm back in Australia."
TIME: 7 pm onwards, Monday to Sunday.
AT: Nichchani Kutir, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu.
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