If you pay attention, most restaurant menus follow a pattern or trend. They stick to dishes that have a universal appeal. While some dare to be different, take the risk and it ends up working well for them, most joints want to play it safe. You will find pasta, pizza, nachos and some oriental dishes all over. Even in cuisine-specific restaurants, they tend to stick to the same tried and tested dishes (for the most part). On our many rounds of reviews, we came across a few selective items that we noticed do not feature regularly on menus but, on the few that they do, are excellent! Here is our pick of dishes that are not commonly found on all menus but are worth eating.
Poutine – This classic Canadian dish of French fries, cheese curds and a light brown gravy is hard to find in the city. This is strange considering Mumbaikers have an eternal love affair with potatoes, which happens to be the base ingredient. Some restaurants have tried to replicate the dish: what used to be Café Mocha, owned by Riyaaz Amlani, had a poutine that featured on their menu and, today, his popular chain of restaurants Social features different flavoured poutines, but sadly neither are close to what the original dish is. For starters, there is no brown gravy; it is just French fries in a creamy cheese sauce with various toppings. While it is not the original dish, it is still a crowd-pleaser on their menu and not a dish you find easily elsewhere.
Bread Butter Pudding – There are very few desserts served at restaurants that remind you of something home-made. The trend is to have something elaborate and decorative, which is quite a task to replicate at home. Apart from chocolate cakes, apple pies and brownies that you see everywhere, not too many folks make a bread butter pudding. This humble dessert is a joy to eat and a welcome change from the tarts and pastries we are used to. Not the easiest dessert to spot, but the folks at The Pantry in Kala Ghoda appreciate this slightly underrated dessert and have given it its due by serving a delicious bread butter pudding along with a smooth vanilla sauce.
Chicken A La Kiev – If you grew up in the 90s, then one of the most extravagant dishes on the menu (apart from a steak) would be a chicken a la kiev. The kiev is a deep-fried plump bird stuffed with melted butter that comes oozing out the minute you pierce the chicken, and is served along with creamy mash potatoes and steam vegetables. Sadly, this does not feature on many menus but old favourites such as Gaylord or Gallops at the racecourse still proudly serve it.
Scones – What is possibly the best teatime snack is also the one thing you surprisingly cannot find in many cafés. While some do serve this teatime treat, it is not found everywhere. Scones are small cakes or quick breads that are lightly sweetened and are a lovely snack. They are best when they are freshly baked and some really good scones can be found at The Sassy Spoon or even Café Zoe.
Pimm’s – This is not a dish but a drink, and even though it might not qualify as a dish that you do not see often on a menu, it is definitely a drink you hardly ever see on a menu. This is mostly because it is difficult to source this brand of liqueur. Any upscale joint or five-star establishment will stock it, but if you look at regular bars, it is unlikely. A lot has to do with the inconsistency of importing the drink, but if you do get your hands on it, it is delicious. The new restaurant 145 at Kala Ghoda does a wonderful cocktail with Pimm’s in a bowl, as does District, the lounge bar at the Shalimar Hotel, where the Pimm’s is served to you in a hookah pot!
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Better known as the Tiny Taster, Roxanne is an internationally respected blogger and expert on the Mumbai food scene. She has hosted many events, including the Upper Crust Food & Wine Show and travels the world, sharing her knowledge and gaining more experience.