Living in Mumbai, bumping along Goliath highways, it’s easy to forget that this city was once made of islands, and still is cradled and cut by water. So much so that beachfront eateries get us every time, the excitement of being that close to the water, you’d think we were landlocked. There’s Salt Water Grill in South Mumbai, where you actually get close enough to the beach to feel the sand between your toes, and Vie Deck & Lounge, which, despite its address on Juhu Chowpatty beach, doesn’t appreciate folks turning up in flip-flops. The latest addition to the list of sand-crusted contenders is Aurus, Home By The Sea, which has opened just up the Juhu beach road from Vie. From the outside, Aurus, (quizzically, it’s Latin for ‘made of gold’), is hidden behind a brick-coloured wooden frame, no name board, no jazz.
The good stuff
For a restobar perched on the edge of the beach, this joint is pure opulence. There are two sections: one within, one without. Inside, with plush chintz on the wall and crystal candelabras, you feel like you’ve stepped into someone’s boudoir, rather than a seaside eatery. An April evening in Mumbai is still windy and temperate enough to be comfortable, so the seating outside is open, yet far from the salt sprays.
The ‘New World’ cuisine basically comprises fusion dishes. The Lemon Grass rubbed King Prawns with Wasabi Foam (the chefs quote Ferran Adria as an inspiration) and Oven Roasted Baby Lobsters with Red Pepper Jelly are excellent appetizers. The seafood is done just the right shade of pale with a tinge of spice, but go light on the sauces, they are a little too partial to mayonnaise, and the sweetness can overwhelm if you dunk pieces into it. A number of Aurus dishes are grilled on lava stone, which are—technically—stones made of volcanic material, but the readymade version used in our restaurants are just reusable smooth cooking stones. They can be heated and used under a traditional grid surface as an avant garde option to the usual grill. But lava stones, along with the escargot, make for exotic menu copy.
The not-so-good stuff
Aurus is clearly an evening hang-out, but if you get there well past the sunset hour, keep a miner’s hard hat ready. The lighting is soft, and the ambience so moody that you need a Bright torch-topped pen to read the extravagant menu. Thankfully, the waitstaff, (in Lounge columnist Narendra Kumar-designed outfits, but who could tell) is very helpful and keep an eye out for patrons holding their menu cards too close to the eye.
This is an upscale eatery and prices reflect that. If you’re out for just drinks, two rounds for a couple can easily set you back over Rs2,500. The vegetarian appetizers are under Rs300, while the non-vegetarian choices are priced according to the dish, for instance the tiger prawns are Rs895, without taxes. The entrees also veer upwards of Rs495, depending on the choice; a rack of Australian lamb is Rs1,295 plus taxes.