Driving away the blues

In my mind’s eye, I imagine there being a dial that you turn clockwise to amp up the charm as you head from the western suburbs to south Bombay (or SoBo, as some lovingly call it). Decry its denizens all you want, but the architectural stylings of south Bombay are a pastiche of intoxicating edifices, its art deco and modern towers straddling old-world and new with effortless ease.

Encapsulating it perfectly is Indigo, that inventive, expressive, iconic, eclectic bastion of fine dining that ushered in not just the era of the chef-proprietor restaurant, but also of high quality fine dining that wowed an entire city. Housed in a bungalow frozen in time, this outpost of Indigo leads the great conga line of its namesakes that dot the city and there’s a good reason it is the flagbearer of this great franchise. It is not just the eclectic European-Asian cuisine that wows with its flavours and freshness, it is also the breathtaking al fresco rooftop dining area and beautifully laid out interiors that are less like a restaurant and more like that of a friend that has invited you into his home. A very wealthy friend, but a friend nonetheless.

The elegant interiors at Indigo
The elegant interiors at Indigo

Nevertheless, despite the gorgeousness of it all, it is the food that takes centerstage at Indigo, and the marriage of flavours local and global works spectacularly well. Making a beeline for this beautiful eatery on the very last day of Restaurant Week India, we seated ourselves on the deck upstairs with a tented roof that seemed to stretch never-endingly skywards. We were presented with a menu in due course, but there would have been no need to do so. I had already made my mind up on what to order before I even landed up here, and that is no mean feat given how amazing the selection on offer was. It was in my eyes the best menu during Restaurant Week India, bar none.

The Lobster Bisque that inspired Sade to sing 'Smooth Operator'. True story.
The Lobster Bisque that inspired Sade to sing ‘Smooth Operator’. True story.

We placed our orders and waited patiently for the food and Sarvesh to arrive, and we nibbled away on the bread basket while we did so. The melt in your mouth butter went perfectly with the crackling bread that was served to us, and we happily forgot about Sarvesh even as the Lobster Bisque came and went in a happy haze. Perfectly redolent of the sea, the creamy Lobster Bisque was rich, mildly fragrant and mildly spiced, but big on flavour. As wave after wave of red bisque washed over us, we were left swimming in a sea of happiness.

Check out those mussels! So much mussel, but no knockout punch for this Cochin Crab Ravioli.
Check out those mussels! So much mussel, but no knockout punch for this Cochin Crab Ravioli.

Some traffic, an amuse bouche, and a bisque later, Sarvesh walked in fashionably late (bladdy townies, I tell you) and set about diving headfirst into the menu. In some time, we were all ready for our second course and I opted for the Duck Confit with some Pappardelle, resisting the Braised Pork Belly that was like a Mermaid’s siren call for me, and I’m glad I did. This canard confit has quickly gone and pencilled itself into my “must have” dishes on a menu. This tasty, ever so slightly crispy and perfectly cooked unctuous leg of duck was indulgent and a big, fat blast of mellow flavours that made me see fireworks, proverbially speaking. The ribbons of Pappardelle complemented it perfectly with its understated, rustic elegance. A hit of arugula was enough to add just the slightest, lingering bit of pungency and this is a dish I would be only too happy to order time and time again.

Is it just me, or does that Crispy red snapper look like it's an island in the middle of a sea of curried corn?
Is it just me, or does that Crispy red snapper look like it’s an island in the middle of a sea of curried corn?

I chose to build a bridge between Europe and Asia for my third course, with the Cochin Crab Ravioli getting my vote, so to speak. Touted as the greatest thing since the birth of Tendulkar many moons ago, this dish didn’t live up to the hype for me. If anything, it was more Kambli than Tendulkar. The potential was clear to see for all; tender, flavoursome crabmeat swimming in a sea of saffron basil broth, with the meat tucked into tufts of pasta that should have been pillowy. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good, but I preferred the Miso Glazed Kingfish to it. The notes of lightly intense and heady umami coupled with wasabi crusted potatoes were an absolute winner for me. I hate to hear Yatin say “I hate to say it, but I told you mi-so”, but he’s right. Miso very often wins the day, even against mighty odds.

The delightful Chocolate fondant with ginger jelly and hazelnut ice cream. It was a bit of good cop, bad cop that made for a great dessert.
The delightful Chocolate fondant with ginger jelly and hazelnut ice cream. It was a bit of good cop, bad cop that made for a great dessert.

The responsibility of ending things on a sweet note fell on the imaginary shoulders of the Chocolate Fondant with Ginger Jelly and Hazelnut ice cream (I swapped out the passionfruit ice cream since it’s not a pet passion of mine). The Fondant was everything I expected it to be; gooey, decadent and oozing in the form of molten chocolate, but more remarkable still was the ginger jelly on the side. Like Peter Dinklage, it packed plenty of wallop in a bite sized package and put together this dish was akin to a great romance; hot, intense, lusty and at its core gooey. More amore, please.

Pretty, isn't it?
Pretty, isn’t it?

Indigo is like a beautiful lady that has aged gracefully and exudes more charm and oomph than when she was a younger dame. To visit her is to be in the company of something special, and it is something you are wordlessly reminded of through the little things that set the food, service and ambience at this outpost of Indigo apart from its peers. Indigo’s name might invoke hues of blue, but it still continues to paint the town red even after all these years, and it’s not hard to see why. Long may the grand old lady continue to entertain.

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