-By Rashmi Uday Singh
We restaurant critics tend to lavish words like genius and inspiration only when traversing the starrier realms of our universe, like tripping out on Wasabi's 'Black cod' or Dum Pukht's fragrant biryani. We downplay the downscale, the everyday casual comforting fare, but let's remedy that right now. Let's pause to praise this whimsically done up, relaxed and well priced Smoke House Deli. Never mind if it's not so much of a deli as a cafe. It comes to Mumbai after having wowed Delhi.
Crammed into the cacophonic Phoenix High street mall, this all-white restaurant soothes. We all love the whimsical black and white doodles that cover every inch. Papier-mâche telephones and gramophones too.
Within Riyaz Amlani and Kiran Salasker's easy going cafe you'll find plenty to eat, whether you're hungry for something delicate or blunt. From the juicy tenderloin burger, the lamb burger, the hearty Panko chicken fried crisp to the delicate Iced chicken liver pate apple marmalade and Oak Ash Chevre, orange and walnut salad. Their all day breakfast (eggs Benedict and truffled eggs recommended) Peri Peri Rubbed Smoked Chicken are well made.
The star of the evening is the wild mushroom and artichoke crepes 'gratin' served with a fontina melt. Diane passes it around and everyone loves it. The Cambodian Basa enlivened with lemon dill is worth trying too as are the fruity and floral cocktails.
But as easy as it is to appreciate Smoke House, it is just as easy to oversell it. Smoke House has limitations, mushy mushroom risotto, overdone pasta, we couldn't summon much excitement for the roast chicken, the bread tucked in a mini sack on the table either. But ample redemption comes in the form of desserts, especially the perfectly made cheesecake.
We chat late into the night in this relaxed, comforting friendly restaurant. We leave with a satisfied feeling of having experienced the genuinely accomplished efforts of extremely savvy restaurateurs and the added satisfaction of not having gone broke in the process.
PS: You can buy their range of fresh pre-marinades and meats.
Review posted more than 6 month ago
Scene: Smoke House Deli, High Street Phoenix, Mumbai
Time: Tuesday afternoon on a cloudy Mumbai Monsoon day
Cast: My BFF D and I
The ambience of this European restaurant + delicatessen is very warm and inviting, despite the severely white walls, with food motifs here and there. It was a bit crowded when we got there and we had to wait for 5-10 minutes, despite having a reservation. Yet the wait wasn’t boring since I could feast my eyes on some of the deli’s offerings – a fine collection of wines and beers, cheese, olives, some delicious looking basa fillets... And oh, the dessert rack! I decided then and there what I was going to have for dessert, but more on that later.
So we were finally seated and handed the wine + bar menu. The water arrived and had a slightly lemony taste; so I looked around and saw jugs of water with slices of lime and some mint leaves – a nice touch! The bar menu is a bit limited, with pretty standard cocktails – the mojitos, the margaritas, the caprioskas... The wines are definitely not as marked up as at Spaghetti Kitchen next door. We ordered Chenin Blanc.
The food menu came with a separate appetizers menu and I ordered the Chorizo Piccante. Crisp slices of chorizo, perfectly flavoured, along with rosemary baby potatoes and caramelised onions – all flavours and textures complementing each other beautifully. The dish was accompanied by a generous bread basket, which I am told is refilled without being asked.
The other highly recommended dish at Smoke House Deli is the juicy beef burger.
For dessert, we shared the Flourless Chocolate Fudge, and that was the first time D & I stopped talking and just concentrated on the plate in front of us! Perfectly textured, with a slightly crusty outside and soft inside – it is literally to die for.
The rest of the menu also looks interesting and needs to be tested further! Will I be going back to Smoke House Deli? Duh!
Favorite Dishes / Drinks: Chorizo Piccante & Flourless Chocolate Fudge
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