Last Sunday’s ride was a series of mishaps. Two punctures caused me to walk as much as I cycled, and a stolen tail light left me more than a little miffed.
On the plus side, however, I explored a new place – The Table – freshly opened for lunch right next to a Moshe and Indigo Deli. It promised the freshest ingredients and a community-style menu that encouraged sharing (which was going to be tough for me, eating alone).
The Table is a handsome, handsome space. The two-level arrangement is not uncommon, but the large windows add to a comfortable, stay-for-a-while kind of vibe that the best bistros do so effortlessly. I would have sat at the communal table (what better for the solitary gustator) but having come at the very last five minutes of lunch service I was faced with a mostly empty restaurant and was thus led to a smaller table upstairs.
The menu is modern nouvelle cuisine, the kind where smart grocery shopping meets delectable French sauces, usually at uncomfortably high prices. The Table is expensive, but not eye-wateringly so – no thousand rupee starters or main courses ready to challenge bank balances. But to the food – a waiter politely landed up and I checked off a chilled courgette soup, an asparagus and egg-yolk salad and a bib lettuce in blue cheese dressing.
First the chilled courgette soup. I must tell you here that I love chilled soups; not everyone can get used to the idea that soups dont come steaming hot, but I love them (Indigo two doors down does a wonderful chilled buttermilk soup). Courgette is a fancier name for a zucchini, not your usual cold soup material but, if you think of it, not that far from that other coldsoup staple – cucumber. In any case, it was a nice refreshing soup with the fried courgette chips adding an interesting twist.
The white asparagus with egg yolk was a more complicated-looking dish, topped with a huge birds nest of fried onion strips. The egg yolk was hidden under a generous load of asparagus bits that were definitely not anything from a can. Firm and tender, they did manage to live up to the promise. The dish overall was scrumptious – the crisp onions, the crunchy tender asparagus and a delicious buttery sauce covering thickened egg yolks made for very nice mouthful indeed.
I’d been dreaming of lettuce wedges with blue cheese – it used to be favourite of mine in Plano, where Roy’s frequently served me a very nice one called “Da Wedge”. This one was suitably wedgy, but came covered with avocado slices (never seen that before). The chef’s grocery shopping had clearly failed him there – the avocado was far from the best. Pushing the slices aside, however, revealed a very fresh lettuce wedge covered with gorgonzola sauce. Nice!
The Table, with Indigo as neighbour and Salt Water Cafe connections, is a very nice restaurant, and one that I would highly recommend a visit to. The interesting part about sourcing the freshest is, however, their strong focus on imported ingredients. Courgette, white asparagus, iceberg lettuce, avocado, none of these are items you would find growing in the average field in Karjat. Alice Waters and her followers made a cuisine out of foraging in their own back yards, blending locally found ingredients with fancy European techniques. It isn’t even that you can call a zucchini or an iceberg lettuce exotic, so why source it “fresh” from faraway farms or even across the seas. It’s probably also the reason these cannot stand up to the best in the world – how can you compete on these dishes with a French chef who has the pick of the stuff in his back yard?
I like European food. I’m hoping that someday, like the ever inventive Chinese have taken local stuff and produced a wonderful new sub-genre of chinese, that someone will take bhindi and gobi and other mundane desi goods and produce wonderful nouvelle food. Till then, I’ll keep visiting The Table and intellectualising over some excellent food.