by Mumbai Boss
3 October 2013
105 Apollo Street, Bombay Samachar Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai.
Open daily, from 11.30am-3.30pm, 6pm-midnight.
Is there something in the water at Kala Ghoda?
Drink up entrepreneurs! This neighbourhood's home to the spiffiest establishments in town.
It’s home to Kala Ghoda Cafe, Sabyasachi, Filter, The Pantry and, as of last week, the very elegant Nico Bombay, which looks like it came to us direct from Gramercy. It’s got the cheeriness of a friendly neighbourhood joint – on account of both the cement-tiled bar being the centrepiece of a narrow 1,500 square feet room (with only 11 tables), as well as the light (both day and night) that streams in through a large arched window. Yet it has the polish of something more grown-up. If Nico Bombay were a person, it’d be the sexy thirty-something you take home to the parents.
Owners Nico Goghavala and his wife, former VJ Kamal Sidhu, who ran a boutique hotel in Sri Lanka, did up the place themselves. A dicey proposition, but one that’s evidently paid off. This is a slick space, with an eye for detail – the cement tiles and cylindrical glass lights are both custom made – that’s largely missing in our restaurant industry. Inside and out, Nico Bombay looks pretty terrific, and is matched by a menu that’s executed almost as well by head chef Sinclair Pinto. He’s got the requisite CV gold stars: stints at The Connaught in London and Alinea in Chicago, and luckily, he’s managed to carry over the key compositions of a Michelin-starred meal without the ponce or price.
Take, for instance, the crab and pumpkin blossom beignet (Rs 350): a crab cake in essence, this is a golden-hued wonder, providing a velvety, succulent explosion offset by the crunch of crumb, tang of marmalade and a sprig of microgreens that for once had a purpose to play other than just looking pretty. The rosy cuts of veal tenderloin (Rs 400) were springy soft and topped with a mini drizzle of tuna tonnato dressing with subtle tang. Only the balsamic baby beets with caramelised walnuts and burrata salad (Rs 350) was a letdown, ruined by a wedge of cheese that was too hard by half.
The steady run continued with the pizza (or as they like to call it on the menu “Neapolitan flat breads”), the cutely named Enzo (Rs 600) that had shreds of pumpkin flower and bits of burrata as its key components. Here, however, the cheese played to character, melting once forked with the roasted tomato sauce in a luscious pool. This is a kitchen that evidently prides itself on its way with meats. They didn’t ask us how we’d like our beef or duck done, and whether this was oversight or cockiness, it’s to their credit (or luck) that all our chosen proteins – chicken, duck and beef – came out as we like them. The roast chicken (Rs 500) had all its juices intact, protected by its caramelised skin, the beef fillet (R s600) with crunchy baby carrots was just on the right side of medium, and the duck legs (Rs 700) with a pea puree, charred just so in their own richly-flavoured fat.
Spare room for the thick dark chocolate fondant (Rs 450), which is served in an espresso cup, and alongside a half scoop of chocolate mousse and strawberry granita. The considerable portion of crème brûlée (Rs 450) could have used time to rest, while the plate of caramelised apple balls on filo pastry, creme anglaise, apple cinnamon parfait and candied star fruit (Rs 450) was pretty to be sure, but had far too many disparate elements that didn’t seem to want to mix. If we had a kvetch it was to do with the weeness of the menu – one page, just seven mains, of which only two, pastas naturally, were vegetarian. Other than that, Nico Bombay gets it delightfully right, adding yet another badge to Kala Ghoda’s bragging rights.
This feature by Nayantara Kilachand was first published on the Mumbai Boss website.