March 23, 2007

Zest

Zest

Twenty four-hour restaurants are a novelty in that middle-class haven, New Bombay. Well, there are a few dives that stay open all night, once the lair of thirsty mildly anti-social elements, now also home to equally dehydrated call-centre kids. But a legitimately open fine dining establishment in a fancy hotel, one you can seriously dent the credit card with? Nada.
Well, gentlefolk, you and your expense account now have Zest, at The Park, in Belapur. Zest says it serves coastal Indian and Asian cuisine, and we took a while to browse through the long menu, with the aid of attentive wait-staff, and to scope out the buffet. The interiors are bright and shiny—too much metal and glass—and garish red-orange-and-white-patterned tiles cover an entire wall. The buffet occupies centre stage, a marble-topped ring choc-a-bloc with serving dishes.
The friend who’d opted for the buffet (Rs 625) circled his prey, then scorned the inviting salads and cold cuts and loaded up on the meat and a side-plate of cheeses.
The rest of the table went a la carte. The lager prawns (Rs 706) were delicious, large and succulent, with a lovely tamarindy dip. The Black Snapper (Rs 511) was well-presented, with a delicate flavour to the sauce, but the fish itself was unevenly cooked. We attacked the vegetarian Khow Swey (Rs 488) with relish; it was almost as authentic as the dish my grandmother, who lived in pre-war Burma, used to make. The Bheja Gurda Kaleji Kheema Fry with parathas (Rs 484), the menu confided, was from a recipe by an old man in Bhendi Bazar. It lives up to billing, but at perhaps ten times the price of the original, I hope that gentleman is getting a percentage.
Thanks to all the selfless sampling for the benefit of this review, we were too full now to order dessert. Instead, we nibbled off the eclectic selection on the buffet-eater’s plate. If the staff noticed this robust display of bad manners, they chose to smile indulgently; we did not get our just desserts in our bill. Clever folks. Because now we’ll be back. Peter Griffin
Zest, The Park Navi Mumbai, No 1, Sector 10, CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai (2758-9000). Daily 24 hours. Meal for two without alcohol, Rs 1,300. All credit cards accepted, except Diners.


Published in Time Out Mumbai, XXth XXXX, 2007.

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