Food Review: Indigo
There was a time when Indigo was envied both for its food and concept. When it opened in 1999, it was the first of its kind—a posh restaurant and nightlife spot outside of a luxury hotel, with a decidedly old world Bombay aesthetic that didn’t veer into cliché. That a fine dining restaurant, housed in a leafy old bungalow, could sit only a stone’s throw away from the Taj and yet be such a worthy competitor to its eating venues was revelatory. And at the time, chef and owner Rahul Akerkar could do no wrong. The food, a fusion-y mix of Indian spices and European preparations, was inventive and more importantly, delicious. The service was always efficient and amiable and today you’re likely to see Indigo-trained recruits at restaurants all over town. In a sense, Akerkar released the floodgates for the dozens of other ventures that have opened since; something that unwittingly might have helped in derailing Indigo along the way. In recent years, the restaurant has been largely empty, the food inconsistent, and the décor in need of a fresh lick of paint and a few new works of art.
It’s a tricky (and expensive) proposition to revamp the interiors of a restaurant, and often the next closest and safest thing is to simply change the menu. Akerkar has managed to do that, while staying faithful to his style of nouveau Indian cooking that uses curry and coulis in equal measure. A caramelised onion flan for instance was garnished with freshly sprouted pulses, which offered a vegetal crunch to the velvety thickness of the sweet onions and rich Madeira sauce. The Canadian scallops with burnt almonds were lightly seared and tender, though there was barely a hint of the promised wasabi cream. Less successful was a chewy five-spiced quail that came with a delicious morel rice salad and pomegranate salsa. The main courses, though equally inventive in mashing together different textures and cuisines, were perfectly alright, but the not the kind of dishes—like say the cheese soufflé and lobster bisque from the old menu—that would necessarily bring you back without the incentive of somebody else footing the bill.
The four-mushroom ratatouille with a potato rosti was less a stew, and more a medley of diced veggies that were all but obliterated in taste by the mushrooms. The New Zealand lamb with barley, onions and an apricot marmalade, were succulent but curiously without much flavour. At nearly Rs2,000, the Chilean sea bass is one of the most expensive things on the menu, served on a bed of a Maharashtria speciality called aamti made using Akerkar’s grandmother’s recipe. The sea bass, a buttery white fish that can rival salmon in heaviness, was unexpectedly light, cooked just so with a mildly flavoured curry of vegetable drumsticks that tasted much like an under-spiced sambar. Was it Rs2,000 good? Probably not, and it almost had us wishing it had been served instead with a local fish like pomfret. Like at Hakkasan, goat cheese has been incorporated in a dessert, in a carrot cheesecake that was unpleasantly mushy. The mousse-like chocolate marquise was better, which came with white chocolate nougat, strawberry coulis and thick “baked” yoghurt that were all great. Overall, our meal was perfectly pleasant, if lacking in the satiating factor that eating at Indigo back in the day always delivered. That might be because the city’s restaurant landscape is now filled with several innovative enterprises to pick from. Akerkar, who once wowed the people of Mumbai with whatever he did, probably knows only too well that customers can be a fickle bunch, too easily swayed by the latest local branch of a foreign enterprise. Will these tweaks be enough to lure people back? Perhaps, but only until something snazzier opens in the vicinity.
A meal for two without alcohol costs approximately Rs5,000. All reviews are conducted anonymously.Tags: Indigo, Rahul Akerkar, restaurant reviews
Location4 Mandalik Road
Off Colaba Causeway
Phone022 6636 8999
HoursDaily, 11.30am to 3pm and 6.30pm to midnight