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Mumbai's best new restaurant
Our expert panel eschewed trendy eateries in favor of lesser-known new venues they believe will stand the test of time
Mumbai's best new restaurant -- Recommended: Punjab Grill
Think Punjabi food and what comes to mind are images of lush green mustard fields, dal makhani and tandoori chicken, accompanied by a Patiala peg or two -- a euphemism for an extra large measure of alcohol, named after the city of Patiala in Punjab.
But is it possible to turn this hearty cuisine from the heart of northern India into fine dining?
Yes, if you are a chef named Jiggs Kalra.
With titles such as "czar of Indian cuisine" and "tastemaker to the nation" preceding him, food columnist, TV show host, author, gastronome and the first Asian to be inducted into the International Food & Beverage Gourmet Hall of Fame, Kalra is known for being an innovator.
So when he put his 55 years of food experience behind Punjab Grill earlier this year, the difference was evident on the menu.
Kalra's tandoori delicacies include calamari, scallops, duck and lobster. His butter chicken is already among the best in Mumbai. And in winter months, he does a mean sarson ka saag, a Punjabi curry made from mustard leaves and eaten with makkai (corn) ki roti.
What gets Best Eats judge and food blogger Sanjiv Khamgaonkar drooling is Kalra's chaamp tajdaar. These baby lamb chops, marinated in a garlic paste with red chili powder and whole spices, are cooked with onions, then put into the tandoor until they're crisp and brown.
In true Punjabi style, the portions are large and fulfilling.
3rd floor, Palladium Mall, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel; +91 (22) 4347 3980. Open daily noon-midnight.
Mumbai's best new restaurant -- Recommended: Chez Vous
"For the sheer breath of fresh air it brings to the culinary landscape of Mumbai, Chez Vous deserves to be on this list," says Best Eats judge and food blogger Sanjiv Khamgaonkar.
Chez Vous serves solid Parisian bistro fare, with many slow-cooked meats on the menu.
Chef and co-owner Cedric Combe describes the menu as "a mix of traditional French cooking, with a hint of contemporary touches."
In 20 years as a chef, Combe has done stints across the world -- from Michelin-starred restaurants to simple bistros. He’s got a passion for sauces and an obsession with fresh produce.
His staff is often unnerved because nobody knows what's on the menu until an hour or so before the lunch service begins.
The lunch menu changes daily, but the dinner menu is shaken up only every few months. It showcases all the major food regions of France, from Savoie with tartiflette (potatoes gratin topped with Roblochon) to Normandie (Brie and Camembert cheeses) to Provence (king prawns flambé with pastis and ratatouille) and even the French Caribbean (stuffed crabs with coconuts).
The restaurant looks chic with white walls, black furniture and absinthe green as its color palette.
Absinthe also makes an appearance at the bar among other classic French drinks.
Cambatta Building, next to Eros Cinema, 42 M K Road, Churchgate; +91 7738 386339. Open daily 12:30 p.m.-1 a.m.
Mumbai's best new restaurant -- Recommended: Kala Ghoda Cafe
Kala Ghoda Cafe is a cool, bright and cheerful hangout serving breakfast, light food and a range of organic coffee and tea.
Part cafe, part bakery, part gallery, it gets the thumbs up from journalist and food writer Vikram Doctor.
"Kala Ghoda Cafe is, in its quiet way, really quite perfect," says Doctor. "Unobtrusive but friendly service and a simple menu perfectly executed."
He's particularly fond of the ginger cake and sweet potato salad. And he says the bread is "better than most bakeries that boast about their bread."
In the heart of Mumbai’s historic art district, Kala Ghoda is set in an early-twentieth-century barn -- two huge skylights flood the room with natural light.
10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort. Tel: +91 (22) 2263 3866. Open daily from 9 a.m.-11:45 p.m.; www.kgcafe.in
Mumbai's best new restaurant -- Winner: Indian Harvest
In her search to find new places run by people "who have a keen understanding of food and ingredients, a sound knowledge of cuisine and unadulterated passion to put the best they can on a plate," Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, Best Eats judge and food blogger, stumbled upon Indian Harvest.
Now she believes every food lover must make a pilgrimage.
Serving gourmet meals and set menus with dishes from across the country, Indian Harvest is elegantly designed with spacious seating, including Indian-style seating on the floor.
Munshaw-Ghildiyal's favorite dishes include kombdi patra hirvi chutney -- Gujarati-style patra leaves rolled in chicken, marinated in a Parsi-style patra ni machhi chutney, then deep fried.
She also loves the aloo makhana chettinad -- baby potatoes tossed in a chettinad-style thick gravy.
Food blogger and Best Eats judge Shanky agrees. He says Indian Harvest "does a truly outstanding job with contemporary Indian food."
Shanky's top dishes include narangi dopiaza and soup shots.
Gate No. 1, Acres Club, 411-B Hemu Kalani Marg, Chembur; +91 (22) 6516 9338. Open noon-3:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Closed Mondays.