The second restaurant week started on the 6th of February. It is a week where top restaurants of Mumbai offer their best foods to customers at a fraction of their actual rates for the same meal at any other time of the year. Since I am now working in the vicinity of some of the participating restaurants I decided to make the best of it. The restaurant week has a two way advantage – the restaurant gets to woo new customers and strengthen old ones while the customer gets to try and decide for himself whether the fare dished out is as per his taste.
I rarely go to restaurants for meals because I have a tough time choosing vegan food and most managers tell me that they would have had something if they had the time. I have never got to eat dessert even if I have got through appetizers, which are available in plenty and meals. Indians are so besotted with milk, cream and ghee that a dessert without milk products is unthinkable. Any restaurant goer wants value for money and if a meal without dessert loses value.
One advantage of reserving during the restaurant week is that you can inform the hotel about your diet preferences and they make sure you have got a choice. However, it is no fun unless you have good company. My friend Deepa is whacky in a good, fun sort of way. I asked her whether she would like to try some good food and she was game for it. We registered ourselves for Monday, i.e., today at Vetro – The Italian restaurant at The Oberoi, and I wrote in about the diet I follow. Last evening I got a call from confirming my bookings and promising me that a good meal would indeed be taken care of.
On reaching we were welcomed warmly by the suave restaurant manager and seated comfortably. I was happy to be near the window which meant enough light for some good photographs. The menu offered consisted of two choices in appetizers, mains and dessert. There was also on offer a plate of ciabatta with broccoli dip on the side. The broccoli dip was simply pureed broccoli creamed with a little olive oil. The ciabatta was excellent. Very crusty, even open crumbs with a few nice holes. Look for yourself. We helped ourselves to more slices than we intended to! We could not resist.
Deepa preferred vegetarian though she is non-veg. I had a rather large helping of arugula leaves, enclosed over baby artichokes and marinated orange segments tossed in a light olive oil vinaigrette. It was very fresh and served as a great starter. The ingredients were fresh and I could feel it in each bite.
This was Deepa’s starter. Looked nice and the baby aubergine crisp added a nice touch!
For mains I had a choice between a vegan fusilli arrabiatta and a lemon mushroom risotto. I chose the latter as I make pasta quite often at home, if once in three months can be called ‘often’. The manager was very helpful with the choice of dishes and happy to explain the process and the elements. Again a good lunch, beautiful colour and aromatic. The quantity was too much for us though. Deepa had fusilli arrabiatta which she said was very good but seemed to go in confusing tangles. I took my risotto with a generous dusting of freshly ground black pepper. I liked best that the food was just rightly spicy for me. I am not fond of heat from chillies so the smooth creaminess of the risotto (sans cream) worked well for me.
Yes! I had a choice in the dessert section too! A platter of fresh fruits or an assortment of sorbets. I have a fruit platter every morning for breakfast so I chose the sorbet. My friend chose a tiramisu and it turned out to be very creamy, with a hint of coffee and extremely tasty according to her. But the helping was so large, she could not do justice to it!
My assortment was made of a lime sorbet, a raspberry and blue berry sorbet, and muskmelon sorbet. I started with the blueberry, we both tasted it, I liked it and was halfway through demolition drive when Deepa put in a word of advice. She said it would be better to try out the other two and keep the best for last. What if the last bite turned out one that I did not like? I need a friend of just this sort! Well, I acted on the sound advice and found that the lime sorbet wasn’t my kind of sorbet. I don’t care for much tang in meals, sweets or desserts. I took a bit of the musk melon and it was just so perfect, I had to drag myself back to the raspberry – I had to keep the best for last, see? The texture of the sorbets were smooth, the sweetness just perfectly balanced, the portions were three normal scoops, the presentation – pretty and not pretentious! I mean the taste was as good as it looked.
The best part through the fare was that they kept those lovely open crumbed ciabattas coming throughout the meals. I spoke at length to the manager, eloquently telling him about the woes of a vegan in India. For those who would like to know, please read this part carefully. I am told that this restaurant will be happy to accept customers with different dietary needs. They also make gluten free breads, provided they are given a day’s time. So if you need preferential treatment head to Vetro for an Italian meal of your choice, whether you are vegan or not.
Would I go there after the restaurant week when prices go back to normal? Yes! I will have to. I did not take my children there this time and when they saw the pictures, they were pretty wild! During the restaurant week the price for a three course lunch or dinner will be Rs.1000/- per person.
I did not mention much about the ambience as the food took over! The decor was perfect as the hotel itself is located in a place that affords a lot of natural light. The room was full of white and just a minimal use of bright yellow which only accentuated the whites. One section has a strange assortment of rectangular stained glass in various colours. It seemed out of place in an otherwise chic setting. You walk out of the hotel straight towards the Marine Drive promenade and into the sunshine. The location could not have been better.