Two of the restaurants which featured right on top of the list when I wrote about burgers in Bandra were Riyaz Amlani’s Salt Water cafe & Rahul Akerkar’s Indigo Deli. No surprise that these two spring up once again while I write about my recent risotto experiences in Mumbai.
I was never a big fan of risottos. Cheese, wine, rice…intuitively the dish sounds like a sure winner. Yet, most risottos that I have had here tended to underwhelm me. I would find them too stodgy and under-flavoured. Then I recently had two that knocked my socks off and left me with big happy smiles. Interestingly both were vegetarian risottos.
Button mushroom & shitake miso risotto at Salt Water Cafe, Bandra
The first was at Salt Water Cafe a few afternoons back. Over the years Salt Water Cafe at Bandra has become one of our favourite restaurants in Mumbai. Probably would feature in our top 3 here along with Ling’s Pavilion and Bhojohori Manna. I have not written a standalone post on Salt Water Cafe it in a while but that’s what happens when you have an oldish blog. You might have written about some of your favourites a while back as is the case here.
What works for us in SaltWater Cafe? I like the ambience. Casual, spacious, airy, sunny, relaxed and yet leaves your with a feeling of being at a special place. We even have our ‘spot’ there. Like our spot at Candies, this too is the table by the door and the window. We love the service at SWC. The fact that the staff knows us to the extent that they don’t need to ask for our names while entering our loyalty points tickles me no end. Plus they give me us the large table that we like if it’s free even though it’s often just the two of us. Moreover they are quite well versed with the menu here and can answer any questions that we have on it. Most importantly the food at Salt Water is uniformly good. We have our favourites here such as the grilled John Dory and the mushroom soup which delight us every time. And then there are times when we order something fresh off the menu and feel very happy with our new discoveries. The food is always plated elegantly here leading to a very complete gourmet experience.
The shitake and button mushroom miso risotto that I had a few afternoons back at Salt Water was one such riveting dish. I am a slave to bold Asian flavours and the pairing of the Japanese miso sauce with a very Italian dish was the genius of the young chef Grisham Fernandes at work I am sure. The sort of pairing that needs a good understanding of ingredients and a trust in one’s gut feelings. There was no way I could say that the risotto was underflavoured. In fact the way the cheese of the risotto came together with the miso flavours had Anna and the King written all over it. I am talking of cross pollination of the West and East here before you point out that the film in question was set in Siam. The button mushrooms were interspersed through the dish while the grilled shitake lay in the middle in Oriental splendour. Each bite of the shitake enticed feelings of sheer ecstasy. I was rarely ever as happy with my choice of a dish as I was with the miso risotto at Salt Water Cafe. An Italian purist would probably be repulsed by this combination and perhaps a Japanese one too but you know what, etymology aside, this was one hell of a dish. Inspired stuff.
Wild mushroom red wine risotto, Indigo Deli, Palladium
The other risotto that I really liked was the wild mushroom risotto that I had at Indigo Deli at Palladium recently.
We are quite fond of Indigo Deli too. We go to the one at Palladium when we are at Phoenix Mills and occasionally to the one at Bandra. We’ve often found it difficult to get a place at the Bandra one though and rarely end up going there except if it’s around 5 in the evening. Well, they must be doing good business. Actually it’s not easy to find a place in the Palladium one either or the Colaba one for that matter. This time we left our names at the Palladium Indigo Deli while I went scouring the mall on a Saturday looking for shoes as most of mine, specially the sandals and keds, had given way after rain soaked monsoon outings.
We hurried back to Indigo Deli when they called us after a table opened up. Like in the SWC, outing, K went for a grilled chicken and both times was happy with her choices.
I chose the wild mushroom red wine risotto. I had tried this earlier in the Bandra Indigo Deli opening and had liked it.
Like the risotto at Salt Water, the Indigo red wine risotto had some pretty strong flavours going for it too. The base was of course very European here. The tanginess of the wine was quite discernible. What won my heart here was the bold and sharp cheese motif that distinguished the risotto. If you are a devotee of sharp cheeses, like I am, then this risotto will make you happy. Here, all the mushrooms were finely chopped and interspersed though the risotto. If the bites of shitake were heady in the Salt Water risotto, in the Indigo Deli one you looked forward to biting into the bits of morel mushroom the most. All in all a very competent and satisfying dish.
Interestingly both the risottos that I liked are coloured ones and not the classic white or creamish ones. Which makes me wonder whether I will ever come across a classic white risotto here that can evoke the same levels of passion in me.
I sure am looking forward to being pleasantly surprised and you will hear from me when I am.
By the way if you are at Palladium you must pick up the macarons at the Le 15 Patisserie Store. They match up to the best I’ve had and K who has macarons in France dotes on the dark chocolate ones at Le 15. There’s an outlet at Bandra too but I pick them up only if I go to Phoenix to balance out ones indulgences. This is what we had for dessert after Indigo Deli