Why this Lower Parel restaurant will thrill vegetarians
With its versatile Mediterranean fusion menu and traditional fare served with a twist, Lower Parel's Ithaka is a vegetarian's delight
We walked into Lower Parel’s newly-opened eatery, Ithaka: Veg Lebanese Kitchen the sister concern of Riso that’s a floor below with a sense of trepidation. Considering the space served only vegetarian food, we expected limited fare. After all, authentic Lebanese cuisine is as much about fresh fish, chicken and lamb as it is about Batata Harra (spiced potatoes) and Baba Ghanoush (cooked eggplant).
The Mediterranean Tart Platter
But we were in for a pleasant surprise. Warmly lit with interesting wooden tiles carved with names of Lebanese dishes suspended from the ceiling, the eatery offers tons of options across sections (with at least six dishes in each) including soups, salads, a section of cold and warm mezzos (appetisers), pizzas, rice, fondue and a grill bar.
The well-lit interiors
It has achieved this feat by creating a fusion menu that not only includes traditional Lebanese fare but also tosses in Greek, Spanish and even Italian-style dishes under the larger Mediterranean umbrella. With a skip of the soups and salads, we plumbed for the vast cold and hot mezzo sections.
Turkish Kebabs with Green Mustard Sauce were satiating. Pics/Shadab Khan
We opted for the Mediterranean Tart Platter (`325) as a cold appetiser and Turkish Kebab With Green Mustard Sauce (`350) in the hot mezzo section. Despite being on a self-imposed ban from cottage cheese, we still found plenty of options in the Mediterranean mains, and ordered Brocolli and Creamy Rice (`450) and Potato Rosti Pizza (`475).
Till the food arrived, we sipped on Kontiki (`250), a mocktail with pineapple juice, passion fruit syrup, coconut milk, chocolate sauce and cream. It was a tad sour for our liking. The Mediterranean Tart Platter comprised six thin, crispy canapé-like tarts, each filled with a different type of hummus traditional chickpea, one with garlic and red chilli and a green one with basil.
The tarts made up for pita bread while the platter was a burst of colour and flavours. The presentation of Turkish Kebabs with Green Mustard Sauce was fascinating. Wrapped in corn leaves held together by a toothpick, this version of the kebabs was fried (but non-greasy, thankfully) made using corn, methi (fenugreek) and malai (cream).
With none of the ingredients overpowering the other, the kebabs were melt-in-your-mouth and when dipped in the tangy sauce, we couldn’t help but let out a contented sigh. Happy with our choices so far, we awaited the mains. Made from spartan ingredients, Brocolli and Creamy Rice included piping hot steamed rice garnished with broccoli accompanied by cream cheese sauce.
For someone used to pairing rice with spicier curries, dals and veggies, this combination was refreshing the rich cheesy sauce delicately blended with the non-flavoured rice while the crunchy broccoli added to the taste. The Potato Rosti Pizza promised a rosti potato base with mouth-watering pizza toppings but ended up being a downer.
More of a tumble-down pie than a crispy pizza, the grated potatoes (we would have liked them thinly-sliced), that formed the base, weren’t baked well and were sans any toppings apart from the bland sauce and cheese. A disappointment. Despite the odd letdown, we’d be happy to do an encore, thanks to their innovative menu.
Time: 12 pm to 11.30 pm
At: Ithaka, above Riso, Janta Industrial Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, opposite Palladium Mall, Lower Parel
Ithaka didn’t know we were there. the guide reviews anonymously and pays for its meals