Haircuts are usually not on my list of pleasant, but friends sometimes take pity on me and treat me to goodies afterwards. Tuesday night the goody was a tasting session at the launch of Moshe’s newest outlet in (finally) Bandra.
The location is tucked up above Nature’s Basket, a death-defying climb up some narrow stairs or a lift ride away from the street. The layout is similar to his other locations – walking in brings you face to face with the breads, and then there’s a nice dining area which, for this tasting session, was dominated by a table filled with salads, cheeses and turkey cold cuts. I’ve never been thank thankful for turkey, but the Mediterranean-tinged salads were, without exception, wonderful.
Then the real assault started. As we sat down with glasses of pleasant white wine, little square plates filled with food started chasing us in what seemed like a never-ending supply. Nice little kebabs on sticks, poppers of asparagus and leek, two kinds of risotto, tofu, spicy chicken, not-so-spicy chicken, lamb, beef, corn crepes, the list went on and on. After a longish pause in the parade of plates, we thought we were at the end and moved into dessert territory, only to be brought back with a resumption of more savouries. Presentations were outstanding, either single helpings in tiny square plates, or full portions in long rectangular ones
Many dishes stood out. There was a bulgur salad, a spinach and pine-nut salad with some kind of creamy dressing, an asparagus and walnuts salad all of which were much worthy of attention. The risotto, the spiced chicken with green couscous, the ravioli and the leek&asparagus poppers were divine. The beefsteak, the shish kabobs, the tofu in pepper and the spiced fondue rated as very good (I’m sure I don’t even remember them all – there were over two dozen options). In desserts were murder-worthy lemon mascarpone logs, drool-worthy baby walnut tarts and some of his Madonna-worthy blueberry cheesecake.
The choice, the presentation and the execution is, much as expected of Moshe, impeccable. It is one of the few restaurants in Mumbai that consistently measure up to international standards in international food. Moshe’s food is centred around his Bagdadi Jewish roots, but there’s plenty of influences from everywhere else to liven things up. Many of the dishes we had are not on Moshe’s regular menu; we’ll have to see which ones finally make it but it’s bound to be good.
Moshe Shek was, apparently, the first Indian signature chef-restaurateur (that’s a chef with a restaurant named after him) – and indeed, I know of no one else in Mumbai who dares to bare. (disclaimer - traditional names like Thakkar or Bhagat Tarachand are not really thought of as chefs, though one could argue the point there). Obviously his baring has worked; his Cuffe Parade location, tucked inside the heritage precincts of Minoo Manor in the shadow of Badhwar Park has been feeding the chattering classes for a little past the itch years. Lets see how the burbies fare.