Thursday, 26 May 2016
Aquafire, Vile Parle East, Mumbai
You can practically hear 1000 exclamation marks at the end of the response for the question to any Mumbaikar, 'Will you come to Vile Parle East for lunch/dinner' :D This reminds me of how Grandmama's Cafe changed the face of Dadar East as this was the same reaction everyone gave when people made plans in Dadar :P Well, that is how the perceptions go. Some places like Bandra, Andheri, Churchgate, Kala Ghoda are 'happening' and places like Vile Parle East are not! I am glad to report that Aquafire is definitely capable of changing it for better :)
A sneak peek into some new dishes they are considering of introducing in the menu brought some hardcore foodies to this superb place situated like a calm oasis. Very elegant contemporary ambiance welcomes one, something I am told looks like a fairyland at night, absolutely not hard to imagine considering how beautiful it looks even in broad daylight. Comfortable seating and gorgeous bar area too. I am definitely coming back to enjoy the afternoon buffet as I have heard extremely good things about the Indian dishes especially. Even at first glance, it is apparent this is one rare place which one would never expect in 'Vile Parle East'. Here is a toast to demolishing pre-existing biases and prejudices :)
Menu for the day included some exciting discoveries for us as we tasted one amazing dish after another, not a wrong note in between! Started with Pinacolada Strawberry Mocktail, something that instantly refreshed us on the sultry afternoon with perfect balance of sweetness and little acidity mixed with mild creaminess. Something to reorder again & again. A while later, we gulped down warm Coconut & Curry Leaf shots. Sounds interesting? It tastes even better :D Looks like a creamy frothy concoction, it is very much like the Kadhi in Gujarati Thali, except that it has a beautiful coconut & curry leaf medley. Now what could top that you ask? Well, wait for the crunchy Lotus Stem Crispies. These are delicate lotus stems deep fried and sprinkled with various spices making them the perfect chatpata crunchies for any snack time. Also had the pleasure of having Bhindi Kurkure that are already among Aquafire's bestsellers and are much denser in flavors. Lotus Stems are more subtle on the palate and thus my favorites :)
This was just the beginning of something special as Gandhari Kebabs made their appearance. Now I know Gandhar region is actually Kandahar region in Afghanistan and common perception is that all signature dishes from Afghanistan-Iran-Iraq area have nuts/ raisins/ cherries in them, so I expected this to be a kebab stuffed with dryfruits maybe. Oh boy,was this the surprise of the day as it turned out to a kebab stick with sugarcane in it! Imagine eating a Kebab and the sweet sugarcane breaking the monotony, what a pleasure. Definitely my favorite of the lot as everyone knows how I am blessed with a sweet jaw :D
A note here about the service as they went above & beyond what was expected from our side :) The tasting menu had mainly non vegetarian main courses but when they saw that 2 bloggers were vegetarian, they ensured that we were not left wanting in any respect even though we had no issues! They were swift, warm, polite, co-operative and it was just like extended family taking care of us. Memorable indeed. We had the pleasure of tasting their signature Veg Biryani which was fabulous. As I have complained many times, many places serve Veg Pulao in the name of Biryani which I am not a fan of. Here we had really delicious Biryani which was not even heavy on the stomach, something worth being thankful for during these extremely hot summer months. And the raita served alongside, looked like a piece of art and was delicious, perfectly mildly spiced and not sour at all (a common problem with raitas in many restaurants). We also chanced upon tasting Paneer Tikka with Tulsi & Dhaniya and Cottage Steak in Herb Sauce with Vegetables & Mash. Being a Paneer lover, I was in love with them at first sight itself. Tasting them just made my afternoon even more beautiful with such tender, melt-in-mouth Paneer pieces, perfectly marinated for the Tikka & elegantly served in the Steak format with veggies & mash. Delicious, Delectable, Dazzling in every sense of the word.
Our non-vegetarian compatriots were served some beautiful dishes too, the special mention for their presentation proving that even a hardcore vegetarian like me was admiring them :D They looked delicious and our friends confirmed that they tasted even better. They had a chicken dish with a sweet & spicy Mango Jalapeno sauce. If you are a non vegetarian, this is a MUST-HAVE. I just tasted the Mango Jalapeno sauce and couldn't stop eating it. I can imagine how amazing it must have tasted with Chicken. For that matter, I could drink this sauce by the gallon ♥ There was a fish dish they had too with a Coffee Cumin sauce which again pushed the boundaries for innovation & deliciousness. These are some masterchef worthy dishes, I tell you :)
I was wondering how would the desserts round make us hold on to our hats. Well, they did and how. First we gorged on some smooth and flavorful Mango Ice-cream with fresh Mango Cubes, with none of that icy or artificial texture. Pure bliss, especially during summers :) And then we had the decadent Seven Layered Dark Chocolate Pastry with Creamy Vanilla Ice-Cream. When I say dark, I mean Daaaaaaark. The kind of chocolate that makes one go yummmmmm, not a soul ready to stop eating it to say anything :D Just when you would think, okay, that is it, now there can be nothing to top that, comes the final attack on our palate (in the best way possible :P) by Hazelnut, Almond and Butterscotch Pastry with Coffee Liquor Reduction. Explosion of true flavors, crunchiness and gooeyness. Best way to end a truly gastronomical delight session on a lazy afternoon.
Watch out peoples, Vile Parle East is a happening place yo :D