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Lounge Loves | Chef-in-waiting

Lounge Loves | Chef-in-waiting
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First Published: Fri, Sep 09 2011. 09 34 PM IST

Updated: Fri, Sep 09 2011. 09 34 PM IST
The world over, Restaurant Weeks allow gourmands—the ones who’ve arrived and the ones who’re checking in—a chance at fine dining at the city’s best restaurants for a fraction of the price.
Mumbai had its first one in September 2010, New Delhi joined in for the second edition in February, and now Bangalore is all set to have its inaugural Restaurant Week—along with Mumbai and Delhi—from 19-25 September. Seven Bangalore restaurants, including Le Jardin at The Oberoi and Zen at The Leela Palace, will offer three-course prix fixe meals at Rs 1,000 per person and Rs 2,000 with wine pairing (excluding taxes).
This is a bumper edition for Mumbai and Delhi as well, with the number of participating restaurants almost doubling (to 15 and 13, respectively). If the novelty for prix fixe gourmet plates has worn out for them, the organizers of the “desi” Restaurant Week have introduced a prelude called The Chef’s Table Week from 12-18 September for these two metros only. This is one of those instances when the accessory is better than the real feature.
High tables: East: Pan Asia at ITC Maratha, Mumbai, is on the list for Chef’s Table Week.
The Chef’s Table Week has the makings of a gastronomic circus. Along with interactions with chefs, diners will get to experience a seven-course tasting menu in which chefs will have an opportunity to display their creativity and surprise their guests, taking into account whims, allergies and dietary preferences. As for Restaurant Week, the price will be the same across participating restaurants (11 in Mumbai, 10 in Delhi). Meals will be priced at Rs 3,000 for vegetarians and Rs 3,500 for non-vegetarians (excluding taxes and service charge). While the price includes a complimentary glass of Prosecco, you have the option of an alcohol-paired menu for an additional Rs 2,000.
“We’re only planning one table per meal at each restaurant, so you’ll have the chef’s whole attention,” says Mangal Dalal, a freelance food writer who co-founded Desi Restaurant Week Events Pvt. Ltd, which runs Restaurant Weeks India, last September, along with chef Nachiket Shetye of East: Pan Asia in Mumbai and former finance professional Azeem Zainulbhai.
One argument against the idea of a Restaurant Week in India has been that several restaurants included don’t present a “meal for a steal” proposition. At New Delhi’s Smoke House Grill, which is on the list for the second time, one of the best dishes, the Tenderloin Steak in Wasabi Emulsion, is priced at Rs 590 à la carte. Not exactly intimidating. Why wait for Restaurant Week, stress over bookings and hate your colleague who got there before you did?
The Chef’s Table Week holds tremendous promise as a first-ever experience. Imagine complaining to chef Manish Mehrotra of Indian Accent—for the sake of it—about the calories in his foie gras stuffed galawat and together finding a way to work around it.
As the newest entrant, Bangalore won’t enjoy the Chef’s Table feature this year. “We wanted to give the city the ‘real thing’ first,” says Dalal. Bangalore also has fewer restaurants than the other two cities. With restaurant prices differing across the country, the city’s relatively modestly priced fine-dining restaurants didn’t justify the Rs 1,000 prix fixe, Dalal explains.
Now, if being waited on by top chefs wasn’t enough, another new feature is the Kitchen Party (21 September, Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai; 22 September, Olive at The Qutub, Mehrauli, Delhi). The party is a ticketed event for Rs 1,500 where attendees get the chance to access the restaurant kitchens and interact with Olive’s head chefs, as well as guest chefs from other prominent restaurants in the city. The chefs will be dishing out hors d’oeuvres all evening and you can talk to them about what they are making, help out and even share a drink. It is, for all purposes, a cocktail party in a kitchen.
Here’s a chance to get drunk with your favourite food impresario. How much more exciting can it get?
Reservations for Chef’s Table Week (12-18 September) are already rolling. Bookings for Restaurant Week (19-25 September) open today.Visit www.restaurantweekindia.com for the list of participating restaurants and to make reservations.
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First Published: Fri, Sep 09 2011. 09 34 PM IST