Friday, March 25, 2016

Olive Redux



I remember coming to Mumbai 10, maybe 12 years back and being taken to Olive for a fancy dinner. Even back then, the partially open air Mediterranean restaurant on Carter Road defined luxury dining. I remember eating a spinach ravioli on that first trip, drowned in a brown butter sage sauce, the taste lingering months later. I went back occasionally for a Sunday brunch or a drink but over time, the menu started to look ready for a redo.

That menu revamp has happened this month with the arrival of the super cute chef Rishim Sachdeva. Having worked with the likes of Marco Pierre White and even in the Fat Duck Kitchen, Rishim describes his food as modern. Not Italian although there are tons of pastas and pizzas there; not Mediterranean in particular, just modern food done well.

We start off with an excellent minestrone that comes blanketed with parmesan, both in melted and crispy wafer form. A kale and strawberry salad follows - the chef explains that the strawberry vinegar is homemade - but the salad is truly made by gnocchi like pillows of goat cheese. For the mains, the chef brings out polenta in a sauce bursting with fresh vegetable flavours.

In fact, I realise the whole menu seems to focus on fresh flavours as I try the sexiest version of cauliflower I have ever seen. Its barbecued, pureed and fresh cauliflower, interspersed with dates, burnt cream and cocoa nibs. It's a starter but it could be a pre-dessert, a prelude to what comes next. What comes next in our case is a glass of yogurt sorbet, topped with flavours of milk, reduced or transformed into crisp wafers. It's a modern dessert but I can see it's not a dessert to everyone's liking which is why there seem to be safe chocolate and strawberry options on the menu.

While all the change I have noticed is good, some Olive traditions remain. The chicken skewers could never be taken off the menu I think, and my friend pronounces them excellent. Also present is the signature plate of olive oil, vinegar and tiny bowl of olives that greets you when you first sit down in the candle lit place bursting with dating couples and ladies on their night out.



And among all this talk of food, let's not forget the special guests who have popped up at Olive for 3 weeks, all the way from Philadelphia. 1 Tippling Place proudly takes its place among the top 24 bars in US. Head bartender Myles, who is currently manning the bar at Olive, explained to me the difference between craft cocktails and the regular pub fare. It came down, I think, to creativity but also to the attention to detail they pay each drink with homemade syrups and bitters and large chunks of hand cut ice. Myles then wandered off to make me an indulgent drink full of gin, lime, lemon, champagne and just a hint of lavender. My friend got something pink, with berries mushed in. The drinks don't stinge on excellent quality gin so for our next rounds, we requested Myles to go alcohol free. He came back bearing house made ginger ale that sparkled with spicy ginger and had none of the syrupy feel your commercial ginger ales do.

The 1 Tippling Place popup is on for just another week so you really need to rush that trip to Olive. Thankfully, the fresh new menu and chef Rishim Sachdeva are here to stay.

No comments: