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Critic's Review

Updated 1 hour ago

  • Food
  • 90% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 70% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 70% Complete (success)

I am rejoicing. Saffron returns to its original glory. I had reviewed it when it had just opened 11 years ago, (helmed by Chef Surjan Jolly). I am happy to report that on an unannounced recheck round, I found it better than ever. Gone was the confused flabby menu of Hyderabadi, Malabari, Awadhi and more. In its place is a leaner, focused and delightful menu with only true-blue Awadhi dishes (with an exception that proves the rule). The young Shahnawaz Querishi (from the same gourmet Lucknavi family that reigns supreme in the ITC kitchens, Sun-n-Sand and standalone Kakori Houses too) has been creating magic past few months here. He not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens (Arabiya and Tunde Kebab) but also khada and khushboo masalas like khus ki jad, pipri, kachri, pather ke phool to Mumbai. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the softest Galouti and Kakori Kebabs, even the plump Murgh Nawabi is perfectly soft and tender. He uses NZ meat for the rich Burrah Chaanp and he meticulously pairs the meats with the perfect roti. I use the yeasty yummy Khamiri Roti to mop up the gelatinous Gosht Paya ki Nihari, the many layered Varqi Paratha with Koh e Avadh. The moist, subtle and flavoursome Dum Biryani is gently perfumed with Meetha Ittar from Aminabad. Thanks to the Executive Chef Himanshu Taneja, the exception of Peepay Chholey and Aloo stuffed Amritsari Kulcha delights. Dal e Khaas is just that. My only crib is that the vegetables are too cashew rich, be it Subz Peshawari or Bharwan Aloo. But that Shahi Tukda with its whisper of crunch and Rabadi delights. All this in the contemporary Indian off-the-lobby restaurant of the JW Marriott, with its interactive kitchen. Worth a visit.

Note: The Set Menu allows you to savour all of the delicacies for a fixed rate — `1,800 for vegetarians, `2,100 for non-vegetarians and `2,400 for seafood.

Updated 1 hour ago

  • Food
  • 80% Complete (success)
  • Service
  • 80% Complete (success)
  • Decor
  • 60% Complete (success)

The parameters of judging a restaurant are always the same. Be it as jury chairperson of this region for "World's 50 best" "Asia's 50 best" or "Times Now Foodie" or this column. Food, Service, Ambiance, price points remain constant. But to check "consistency" (most important). I eat several times at the same restaurant, book in my guests name, send them ahead and go unannounced.

I do the same tonight.

Having opened in London in 1963 and magnetized the who's who from Sofia Loren to Princess Diana, Lorenzo Berni set up his iconic outpost in the Taj Lands End last year. I dined soon after it opened with Jaideep Mehrotra and Safdar Bandukwala and we were disappointed. Teething troubles? I wait and dine again. This time with a well-traveled, foodie twosome. Having dined at Lorenzo's, in its heyday, on innumerable visits to London, this gorgeous grandma teams up with her reclusive Hollywood writer/actor Grandson for an incognito visit to its Mumbai avatar, to check out if the old magic still survives. This grandma loves food, travel, people - and at 81 she has all the time to enjoy all three, preferably with her Grandson. Her joie de vivre bubbles over (please see photo) right through our fun-dinner and I receive the reactions of two generations.

Decor

It's a boxed-in, first-floored space with delicate, pretty white trellises, marine-themed touches like shells and lanterns. It harks back to the decor of its erstwhile predecessor "Pure", except for some blue paint at the back of the upscale restaurant starkly contrasting the white and black striped walls and a few new paintings complete the unimaginative decor.

Food

The old-world robust Italian fare made to Lorenzo Berini's recipes hits the sweet spot between simplicity and sophistication, and does so now much more ably than it did a few months ago, when I encountered erratic food and slow service. Most of what was flawed has since been fixed; what was good has remained so or become better. Many a classic Italian dish here, including the Veal Shank Ossobuco, butchered, seasoned and cooked in a flavourful fashion that took us

back to Milano. The Sea Bass does a deft, unusual seesaw between heartiness and delicacy. Exquisitely fresh Carpaccio di Salmone , Focaccia Tartufata which was soggy earlier, is flavoursome and crisp now. Super Spaghetti schillaci (Lorenzo's personal favourite) with basil chillies and tomatoes, okayish Breaded chicken Pollo Milanese. Tiramisu has the perfect texture, flavor and temperature, the crepe perfumed with Kahlua is a must try too. The sorbet and basil gelato gets grandma's thumbs up.

Minus Points

In spite of the sea facing location of this ever-popular hotel, it's a pity that this first-floored restaurant is boxed in without any windows. At a restaurant of this stature, the bread cannot be as humdrum as it is or the Salmon overdone and flaky. The Risotto with Prawns can't have such an unfocused taste, Fettuccine al Ragu be so bland in spite of the minced lamb. The Melanzane alla Parmigiana has to be richer and juicier and not over salted. More vegetarian dishes are needed. I am informed that the restaurant is in the process of adding more.

MY POINT

London's once iconic Lorenzo comes to Mumbai. Even though many of its robust Italian dishes rise far above average and some don't reach that bar, it has an unlaboured panache that (despite the boxed in decor) makes dining here a pleasant experience. It may not recapture the glamour of its London flagship, but it continues to promise about as much pleasure in the present as it did in the past. Lorenzo Ahoy!

Note: The wine list is well-priced, navigable by the novice and know-it-all alike. We polish off a bottle of Bibi Graetz Casamatta.

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