It seemed like I was in one of those reality show type of challenges at work yesterday. Of the ‘Amazing Race’ genre.
I had a meeting at Thane at 9.30 am and during the meeting we got to know that we had to airdash for a sudden meeting at Lower Parel at 2 pm. Now I always believe that an army marches on a full stomach. So I planned a food halt for my colleagues and me. Phoenix Mills seemed a good option as we needed a place where we could work too.
Within Phoenix Mills I chose Smoke House Deli, the new project of restaurateur Riyaz Amlani. Within the short time that it’s been in operation, Smoke House Deli has caught the attention of the chattering classes and I think it has won some awards too. I hadn’t been able to make it to the preview so this seemed to be a good op.
I tweeted wanting to know about its exact location and instantly got folks writing back. Turned out Smoke House Deli itself is pretty active on twitter. They picked up my tweet and began interacting with me so that by the time we reached and entered we were welcomed with a ‘Hello Mr Kalyan’.
The first thing that strikes you when you enter the Deli is its vast expanse, cheery ambience…bright yet not overtly so graphics, curios, shade lightings…a prominent black and white theme which is chirpy and cheerful…and as we found out, seats which are quite comfortable. A contrast to the other good spot at Phoenix, Indigo Deli, with its more adult sophisticated dark settings and backache inducing chairs.
We found a nice table to plonk ourselves at. The entire atmosphere was quite pleasant. It was a crowded Friday afternoon. The buzz was vibrant though muted and the music soft enough to enable conversations. The sort of place which made you wish that you didn’t have a meeting to rush to. Made you wish that you were carrying your camera though the ambient lighting made the blackberry do a decent job too.
The menu was extensive and since there were three of us we could try out a decent bit.
The one in our group who was ‘fasting’ called for a cheese platter, a smoothie and later, on tasting the fries from our burger, a plate of fries. I love this Western Indian concept of upvaas or fasting. If I could afford to gain weight I would do it someday. Though to be fair on Deepak we did have quite a bit of his cheese platter and were happy in the knowledge that he’d be presenting in the meeting while we could sit back and nod wisely.
Smoke House Deli kept tweeting asking us to try their green apple sangria but with a meeting coming up you could just long for the days of the Mad Men and call for a soft drink instead. I went for an apple and cinnamon ice tea while Chinmai went for a Kiwi cooler. Both drinks refreshing with the flavours balanced just right.
Once we finished the cheese, the two of us who were not fasting and were not vegetarian, then set on the other starters that were brought to our table. Assorted seafood fritter with a wasabi dip. The fritters were fine, nice batter, prawns…squids…basa…fried just right but it was the tangy and yet not overpoweringly so wasabi dip that lit up the dish.
We went for a tenderloin with emmenthal burger which was a bit of a dampener. The meat too chunky and dense. The emmenthal, while prominent in the menu, was barely seen and definitely not heard in the actual burger.
Our other dish was the pepper crusted John Dory suggested by a Hanisha on twitter. The John Dory was slightly opaque and inert in texture and taste. I think they did a better job of the John Dory at Some House Deli’s sister restaurant, Salt Water Cafe.
The dish was beautifully plated though and with the crunch of the beans and the piquant risotto the dish came together pretty well. The combination worked for us beautifully.
At the end the manager very kindly offered us some dessert on the house. I wish I had discovered food blogging when I was at college. But they had not even invented the internet then.
After much prodding we bashfully agreed to a cheesecake acting as if we weren’t three young to moderately young strapping men (one fasting) but figure conscious size zero Miss India contestants.
The baked cherry (I think so) cheesecake was on the one hand a bit too sweet and overpowering…but at the same time was pleasantly cool and had a nice lingering fragrance of vanilla which made us dig in for more bites than we should have.
If you were to ask me, Smoke House Deli is a nice sweet place but doesn’t necessarily set your tastebuds on fire. More Melanie Wilkes than Scarlett O’Hara.
Having said that I am going back there soon for a social outing.
Yes, like I said it’s a nice place.
Update 2nd April: Well the planned second visit didn't happen on the 1st. I'd tweeted in the afternoon requesting for a table booking at night. When I called to confirm I foud out that the tweet wasn't seen, the table wasn't booked. Apparently I had to call on the phone but noone tweeted in response to my first tweet asking me to do so. So went to Moshe's at Bandra and had an excellent dinner as one expects from them. Seems like Smoke House Deli's social media act is a bit inconsistent right now.
These are some of the tweets from last afternoon. Thanks for the directions:SmokeHouseDeli
It'll be a pleasure having you'll here. Drop in soon.
30 MarHanisha Lalwani
30 MarDhunji S. Wadia
30 MarRuhi Bhatia
@Finelychopped in the courtyard area, next to spaghetti kitchen and noodle bar and all.
In reply to Kalyan Karmakar
30 MarCoffee Bean