Secret Dishes

Not content with the menu and not friends with the chef either? Refer to our nifty guide of off-menu dishes offered across city restaurants.

June 29, 2011 1:37 pm by

Gnocchetti sardi pasta with grilled vegetables and Pecorino Toscano shavings at Two One Two Bar and Grill. Photos: Sheena Dabholkar.

Can’t find anything you like on menu? Before you walk out of the restaurant, check with the manager to find out if they serve any off-menu items to please the occasional fussy customer. These dishes could be seasonal specialities or fall-back items to prepare in case something on the menu isn’t available. Most often, however, they are items that were removed from an older menu but are still served on request for loyal patrons. You don’t have to be best friends with the chef to be in the know, just refer to our list of off-menu dishes across city restaurants, below.

Surf and turf revisited, Two One Two Bar & Grill. Rs3,500.
Sauteed Maine lobster with Angus tenderloin and Hollandaise truffle sauce.
12-A, Hornby Vellard Estate, opposite Nehru Centre, next to the BMW showroom, Worli. Tel: 2490 1994.
“Our off-menu items change on a weekly basis. These dishes generally depend on the seasonal availability of European ingredients and my own innovations. It gives me a chance to revisit the classics. Our other popular off-menu offerings include fresh Piemontaise cherry pie with caramel sauce; Atlantic black cod fish with pan seared foie gras, Bordelaise sauce and fresh black summer truffle, and gnocchetti sardi pasta with grilled vegetables, fresh pepperoncino and Pecorino Toscano shavings.”—Alex Bignotti, executive chef, Two One Two Bar and Grill.

Diced chicken in black pepper sauce, Mainland China. Rs450.
Shalimar Morya Park, off Link Road, Andheri (West). Tel: 6678 0011.
Suburbia Mall, Sixth Floor, Linking Road, Bandra (West) Tel: 3265 8852.
Shop No.1, Second Floor, Block A, Sobo Central, Tardeo, Hajo Ali. Tel: 3222 1038.

“Both the chicken in pepper sauce and the corn cubes used to be on the menu. After we revamped our menu, something we do twice a year, we anticipated that guests will continue to order both these dishes as they were very popular.”—Nripendra Chauhan, general manager operations, Mainland China.

De-shelled crabs in butter, garlic and kaffir lime, Busaba. Rs550.
Mandlik Road, near Indigo, Colaba. Tel: 2204 3769.
Mathuradas Mills Compound, next to Blue Frog, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel. Tel: 6747 8971.

“Our off-menu items are dishes that used to be on the menu at some point. They were bestsellers then and we still get frequent requests for them. In addition to the crabs, guests ask for the steamed tiger prawns in lime, chilli and garlic, and the lamb in three flavoured sauce with sweet basil.”—Nikhil Chib, chef and owner, Busaba.

Grape and Brie quesadilla, Fenix. Rs550.
The Oberoi, Nariman Point. Tel: 6632 5757.
“All our off-menu dishes are hot sellers from our previous restaurants including Tiffin and Kandahar. Tiffin was an extremely popular restaurant so we expected that once it was replaced by Fenix after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, regulars would ask for Tiffin favourites. In fact, the quesadilla is so popular that we’re considering putting it back on the menu. We also get frequent requests for the lobster Thermidor, stir fried Asian vegetables with tofu and togarashi (a Japanese seven-spice blend) also from Tiffin and the prawn biryani from Kandahar.”—Matthew Cropp, executive chef, The Oberoi.

Vanilla bean and rum millefeuille, Theobroma. Rs850 for a kilo.
Shop 24, Cusrow Baug, Colaba Causeway. Tel: 2288 0101.
29/30 Link Square Mall, near KFC, off Linking Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 2646 9010.
“Millefeuille is not on our menu because it has a limited shelf-life and has to be consumed fresh. We also get inundated with orders for the chocolate marquise. A Mumbai bakery called Bombeli’s used to serve it sometime in the 1970s I think. A lot of my customers would ask me for the marquise, but since I had never tasted it, I had to recreate it based on how it was described by different people who had eaten at Bombeli’s. Again with the marquise, you have to order it by the kilo. At the restaurant, we take orders for chocolate silk, which is basically different flavoured chocolate ganache. We make chocolate with whisky, chocolate with hazelnut and chocolate with raspberry. It’s priced at Rs80 for an 100ml serving as it’s made of Belgian chocolate. Our oldest customers ask for the chocolate silk. It used to be on the menu but we discontinued it as it didn’t have too many takers.”—Kainaz Messman, chef and owner, Theobroma.

Jeera aloo, Punjab Grill. Rs375.
Level 3, Palladium, Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel. Tel: 4347 3980.
9, Gulmohar Road, Juhu Supreme Shopping Centre, opposite Sujay Hospital, JVPD, Juhu. Tel: 4243 3100.
“In our Mumbai restaurants we get a large Gujarati crowd who prefer to have potatoes or paneer with their meals and hence we prepare jeera aloo and mattar paneer almost four times a week. Another popular item is the chillah, a type of paratha made out of gram flour. We also serve chicken curry and kadhai gosht should guests ask.”—Zahir Khan, executive chef, Punjab Grill.

Penne in pesto cream, Salt Water Cafe. Rs320.
Rose Minar Annexe, 87, Chapel Road, near Lilavati Hospital, Bandra (West). Tel: 2643 4441.
“We often get requests for creamy pastas either in tomato cream sauce or in pesto cream, especially from the kids. But it’s sad if people judge the food based on these dishes. We don’t like to deny our guests anything but at the same time, diners should realise that a lot of thought goes into planning menus.”—Gresham Fernandes, group executive chef of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which owns Salt Water Cafe and the Mocha chain of coffee shops.

Fried prawn chung fan roll, Royal China. Rs395.
Behind Sterling Cinema, Hazarimal Somani Marg, Fort. Tel: 6635 5310.
192 Turner Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 2642 5533.

“Our vegetarian chung fan was very popular so my chef came up with a non-veg version by adding prawns to the dish. When I tried it, I was certain that people would love it. Since the menu is already quite extensive, we haven’t included it but we are considering adding it at some point.”—Neville Vazifdar, owner, Royal China.

Masala pomfret, Frangipani at Trident, Nariman Point. Rs950.
Trident, Nariman Point. Tel: 6632 4343.
“All our off-menu dishes are old favourites that we’ve had to retain. The pomfret is prepared with red chilli paste, tamarind water and is accompanied by potato mash and a kasundi sauce. The gustosa pizza (ham, onions and mushroom) is also quite popular. I’m thinking of adding the Malabar fish curry and the pomfret back on the menu.”—Ameya Thakur, sous chef, Frangipani, Trident, Nariman Point.