Queen without a crown

Updated: Sep 20, 2019, 08:57 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi | Mumbai

After much hullabaloo, Tea Centre 2.0 opens in Churchgate as Queen's Deck. And after a rushed meal, we come away feeling both food and space are not quite ready

Badamtam earl grey
Badamtam earl grey

FOOD: INCONSISTENT
AMBIENCE: CHARMING
SERVICE: BAD
COST: OVER PRICED
VERDICT: 0.5/4

The new world order that emerged after World War II set in motion a reshuffling inside the global corridors of powers, in ways that rendered many powerless. Of them, possibly the most displaced, was Queen Elizabeth II, who shrunk from being the sovereign authority of a far-reaching empire to the nominal head of the Commonwealth on which the sun had finally set. The status of the 2.0 version of the erstwhile Tea Centre, now rechristened Queen's Deck, ironically, is much the same.

With a dark facade, that could have used a light, it's easy to miss the space. The structure of the sprawling tearoom has a layout similar to the old one, with the retail store retaining its original position. However, the separate entry to the restaurant through the store remains to be opened. "Construction chalu hai," a disinterested staffer tells us. The decor has received a veritable upgrade — it has a classy vibe, the alternating shades of brown, beige and grey adding to the elegance. The addition of long, high tables, stools, and potted plants gives it a chic bent and a wall showcasing all sorts of teapots lends a certain cuteness to it.

Tea-Center 2.0

To begin with, things are looking good, except for the fact that we're the only inhabitants of this palatial deck, joined by a few waiters, and a painter who makes a fleeting cameo. We begin with a pot of Bombay masala chai (R300 for single pot), which has an inviting aroma. We suggest you sip on it without milk — it is hard to imagine a masala chai that isn't milky, but it is possible to savour this one if you leave your biases at the door. To complement the warm beverage, there's a portion of the corn jalapeno poppers (Rs 342), which are flavourful croquettes with a stuffing studded with vivid green jalapenos and blood-red peppers. The stuffing-to-crust ratio is on point, and they make for a yum snack. Similarly, the fried fish (Rs 266) has a crispy panko crust and a meaty portion of fresh rawas. It's delicious, really, and goes well with the dip, which is like a cross between tartar and Russian salad.

Fish Fry
Fish fry

The childish-sounding names of some of the mains on the menu (duck duck go, hilly billy), make us laugh, but that merriment is cut short, when our server tells us that their card machines haven't been set-up, and that they will shut at 10 pm, instead of 11, which is the official closing time.

Lobster thermidor
Lobster thermidor

We hope the mains make up for this disappointment. But sadly, the duck duck go (Rs 1,571) — with its lacklustre cranberry sauce, tasteless herbed rice and undercooked meat — is going nowhere. The lobster thermidor (Rs 1,285) is dispiriting and lacks the goodness associated with this indulgent toast to the king of seafood. The "creamy butter sauce" — as the menu suggests — is hardly luscious, and the dish is over-priced when compared to price points at which you can get this dish at the tea room's direct and indirect competitors — Gallops (R885) and The Harbour Bay (Rs 1,100). The highlight of this preparation? The carrots, maybe.

Kettle

A pot of Badamtam earl grey (Rs 571 for a single pot) provides some respite, for it has a distinct malty, lemony flavour, and a perfect orange-golden hue that confirms the quality of the blend. It does help wash down the vapid meal, but not quite the exorbitant prices, or the awkward service. Last weekend, when we reported the reopening of this much-revered space among the city's tea-loving public, the administration had informed us that they'll retain the tinker bells that had become synonymous with Tea Centre. We didn't see the bells, but that might not be the only reason why this Queen won't make much noise.

At Queen's Deck, ground floor, Resham Bhavan, Churchgate.
Open 7 am to 10pm
Call 9819570964

Food review rating: 4/4 EXCEPTIONAL, 3/4 EXCELLENT, 2/4 VERY GOOD, 1/4 GOOD, 0.5/4 AVERAGE

Queen’s Deck didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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