The egg came first, ending my eternal causality dilemma. A delicious cocktail of tender coconut and mango, served as a welcome drink in a mock egg shell. By the time the eighth course arrived, half of a minuscule bajra roti stuffed with caramelised onions and a dot of herbed butter, a tiny sprig stuck on top, I had realised the obvious. We would have to stop for dinner at some dhaba on our way home. This did not deter us, though, from admiring the burst of flavour in each tiny bite as it was presented on thoughtfully chosen platters. The waitress patiently explained how to eat each dish because the crockery was not china as we know it. Rasam was in a boat shaped tube with a small bada balanced on one end. The glass dispenser, perfectly designed to simultaneously deliver the rasam, vada and chutney in the mouth ! Herb oil dressing in a tiny dropper, lotus stem on a bed of radish dressing set on stone. I had never seen or savoured anything like this before. We were at a much hyped fancy restaurant having a long awaited 18 course meal. It had taken us two weeks to get a reservation.
As we were meticulously served course after course we started enjoying the indulgence. Mushroom soup served as chai where dried mushrooms were made to look like tea leaves, special treatment to truffle oil made it resemble powdered sugar and the mushroom broth was poured out of a kettle. That is attention to detail! We sampled varied regional cuisine and some international dishes, all with the chef’s signature twist. By the end of the main course we were pretty stuffed…..and we are big eaters! We sampled the five deserts nonetheless, which included miniature droplets of jalebi masqueraded as caviar, magical dark chocolate truffle suspended midair and the grand finale -candied oranges on a tree.
Priced at 3K per mouth ( after paying patronage to the farmer, feeding Gau Mata, and cleaning Ganga Mayiya !) it was a bit steep but worth every penny. We came away not just with a full belly but with some food for thought. Years of gorging on paneer tikkas and vegetable Manchurian had made us forget that hors d’oeuvre are meant to whet one’s appetite not fill the tummy! Here are the other lessons we learnt. Passion can transform a dish into a canvas, a dining table to an art gallery. Food tastes better when the portion size is small. If you eat slowly, time is a great filler!! We discovered a new way of eating. We saw, smelt, sampled, savoured and were surprisingly sated. Perfect for the connoisseurs and a good place to start for those who don’t understand food.
While confirming our booking the receptionist had curtly instructed on the dress code. Ladies could wear what they pleased but bare legs and open sandals were not acceptable for men. It was heartening to know that there are places where men, not women, have to follow diktats on attire. For me, that was truly the tiny cherry on the dainty cake!
( carried by the Hindustan Times on 11/5/2017)