Villa Vandre sharply reflects a few of the most rewarding developments in Mumbai dining over the 25 years during which I’ve been tracking the restaurant scene (at a time when foodwriting was considered low brow ) . Now more than ever, I find principled, distinctive cooking in places where I wouldn’t have expected it before: in the postage stamp sized Villa Vandre.
Walk past the glittering chandeliered lobby into this vast, 7000 Sq ft high ceilinged JW Cafe at JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar with open kitchens, metallic screens and pillars. Handsome space but overall, it disappoints. Read my detailed review on TimesCity.com.
Cracklingly new. Shiningly new. Newingly new. Now, that Ive hammered the message through about this brand new Italian restaurant, let me tell you that I got to know about it not through a PR release or chef, but through my long-distance call to my very knowledgable foodie-dynamo buddy Dilip Joshi who has answers to all (almost) my questions.
Nudged into the armpit (almost) of my most beautiful T2 airport (Im quite crazily in love with it) the brand new JW Marriott glitters. Walk past the shimmery lobby with dripping chandeliers and youre in for a surprise. The sprawling, high ceilinged, dimly-lit dark wood, very handsome and macho restaurant is a total contrast to it. A pleasant contrast. An open kitchen bustles into view and two staircases lead into the bar area on the mezzanine.
Traditional Italian. Short menu. No pizzas. No Ossobuco coz no beef (ofcourse) Im told their chef is from Naples, but was on leave when we ate here. Food was still good. Which is a super sign. For starters, the Buratta (Rs 695) (from Bangalore) was voluptuously creamy, kissed by basil pesto and a must try. It was the superlative sea bass (Rs 1595) baked in parchment paper, flavorsome with lemon sauce and clams that was the star of the show. Delicious Pepper spring chicken rosemary potatoes pickled chillies (Rs 1295). Huge big sharing portion of delightful tiramisu (therefore priced at Rs 650).
Okay! since it is not even a fortnight old, there being no Gelato no Proseco no Grappa is understandable. But why was the spaghetti alio olio so limp and overcooked? And the
Scallops in Butter brandy (Rs 745) with grit in them? Vegetarians need more dishes, please. The side dishes of vegetables do not count (though our side dish of green beans was yum) The sommelier was knowledgable, helpful, though the wine list could do with more Italian wines.
Though Romano’s homestyle Italian menu and cooking aren’t particularly adventurous or inventive, (not enough vegetarian dishes) it’s dishes do a deft, unusual seesaw between heartiness and delicacy. These strengths and the restaurant’s macho cozy setting will take Romanos a long way.
P.S.Even though only a fortnight old, it was already quite packed.
ROMANO’S JW Marriott Sahar, IA Project Road, T2 Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
RATING FOOD 3.5 DECOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5
Open for dinner only
Meal for 2: Rs 5000
Whats going on? Why has Bandra’s newest restaurant been proclaiming it is a “Latin American fine dining restaurant”? Help! I am seriously questioning my own knowledge of geography. Does Latin America include Italy and Japan et al? Ofcourse, this cuisine does have influences from all over the globe. But confusion gets more confounded when the waiter in Asado tells me that “pasta is a Japanese dish”. Thankfully, my guest Pierre Ortoli has not only lived and worked in Buenes Aires as has Dr Mathilde Richou osteopath but her father also has vineyards in Argentina. Our review follows
Kitschy or cute? Handpainted walls recreate a quaint Latino town in this 65-seater. Clear blue skies, fake birds perched on fake lamp posts too. Outdoor seating too. Casual, relaxed ambiance.
So don’t get stuck on the label and go looking for “Latin American” fare (they do have a few names of dishes from there. No ceviches). You’ll enjoy the flavorful edamame truffle risotto, okayish beef empanadas. It’s the Brazilian beef steak (Rs 2000 plus) done rare that dazzles. Both our desserts…churros and Tresleches were just about okay.
Stodgy Kataifi prawns and vegetarian flautas. Ditto for the veg wraps. Fatty pork spare ribs, though Bbq sauce delicious. All the Vegetarian dishes we tried were limp and floppy. The servers were uninformed about the cuisine.
Asado “Mumbai’s first Latin American fine dine” doesn’t just flit tentatively across a few borders but knocks down a whole bunch of them altogether.
It bops around the globe and serves some okayish though expensive dishes and wines (our bill for three was Rs 14000, with wine). Our meal began with great expectations and ended with a whimper.
P.S. But then I walked outside onto Bandra’s SV road and found myself wanting to give Asado the benefit of the doubt. It has the location. It has the enthusiasm. With better judgment, research, a lowering of prices and a Latin American trained chef perhaps it could live upto it’s ambitions. We wish it all the best!
ASADO Monorama Chambers, Ground Floor, S V Road. Bandra West
Ph 6568 6666
RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 2.5 DÉCOR 3