Masque is the Secret Tables pick in Mumbai.
It is outrageously expensive by any standard but makes one pale in India. The Times of India journalist, Rashmay Uday Singh sums it up perfectly: “We come away with our palates singing and our wallets stinging.”
It is a great night, despite this, with inventive and delicious food. The wine pairing (accompanied by the sommelier) was extraordinary. Alas, whilst I noted the food, I was a tad lazy with the wines.
I am leaving tonight to fly back to Oz, and we think a 7.30pm booking will be fine but not really taking into account the chaotic state of Mumbai traffic – there and to the airport.
To the restaurant it’s a fabulous ride through alleys and neighborhoods bursting with life, families, restaurants and the blinking lights of Diwali. We believe that we’re being taken into white slavery (top candidates we know we are for the geriatric-loving pashas) as we wind through darkened lanes, twisting and turning and find it hard to believe that this is the suburb to have a fancy-pants restaurant.
Lakshmi Mills used to be the textile area and so is still gritty and grotty. Surely only the courageous venture here. The sign for Masque is trendily subdued but it’s the only place with a doorman so that is a giveaway.
It’s a 10-course-no-other-options deal and we match it with the wine pairings.
Chef Prateek Sadhu is from Kashmir.
His menu is that modern suggestion of flavours – a guessing game really and a matter of trust for the diner – but he’s young and earnest and grows his stuff locally and organically so we put ourselves in his hands.
We start with champagne (the champagne helps with the trust issue) and are led into the calm and pristine kitchen where sous- chef prepares the Masque version of Mumbai street-food classic pani puri – a crisp sphere hollowed out and filled with potatoes, chickpeas, a sweet-sour mix of tamarind, jaggery and a liquid blend of coriander, mint and garam masala.
Oyster – huge like a Belon and sweet like a Sydney rock oyster with Nasturtium and a fragrant nasturtium oil/ Pasqua 11 minutes Rosé from Verona Manta Bun (think a corn Madeleine) with Kohlrabi
Next Eggplant in a crisp dhosa-like tulle cigar| with Kashmiri chilli-spicy but with the luscious ness of the eggplant coming through.Tomato | Marigold – a masterpiece of seasonal sweet tomato with marigold vinegar, beetroot soup, cumquat and fresh marigold petals
Kalari | Tzir Czot / Touraine Domaine Jacky Marteau Sauvignon Blanc from Val de Loire– buttermilk foam with sous-vide sweet-as-can-be pea pods from Jaipur, sous-vide egg, turnip juice and crispy morels
Kuladi buffalo milk cheese with radish in a soft rice pancake / Two Faces Washington State Riesling
Mackerel | Buckwheat – Mackerel with mackerel purée with chili, lime and garlic and buckwheat- a fishy delight with the balance of favors, rich, unami, sour, spicy, nutty and oily- all mixed perfectly / a Garganega-Chardonnay blend from Veneto
Peas | Morel
Lobster | Coconut – The sous-vide lobster was perfect, sweet, delicious and delicate with just a hint of curry leaf in the coconut milk and paired with Kashmiri Kaplon bread with homemade whipped butter – the star dish of the evening. We were so caught up in the experience that sometimes we forgot to take photos.
A palate cleanser – Tamarind sorbet with mulberry purée and parsley ( it looks like a four-leaf clover but tasted like a delicate parsley and strangely this worked with the tartness of the tamarind and the sweetness of the juicy mulberry
Pork Rib | Chorizo / Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz Mataro – three types of radish with pickled beetroot and turnip, millet – Bill’s versión was with the roast pork in a velvety chorizo sauce -the pickles and radish were a perfect foil to the richness of the pig, Served with baby carrots, beetroot, turnip, garlic, zucchini and chives. My version was just minus the pig, as you can see, but a more generous serving of millet – like a green version of Esau’s pottage but more delicious ( in a worthy vegetarian way)
Pomegranate | Black Pepper / Domaine Sigolas Mezzo Apiliotis from Santorini ( the Mandilaria grapes are sun-dried 10-12 days then aged in old oak barrels for 24 months) -another tart/ sweet combo with pomegranate-orange granité, dried pomegranates and a subtle black pepper and vanilla cream
But wait – that’s not the end of the desserts
Apple | Smoked Vanilla – smoked custard apple tart with passionfruit cream. I find this smoking fetish just a tad wanky and doesn’t really add generally but the tart and cream were good.
Variations of Pondicherry Chocolate (passionfruit | hazelnut | pear & chilli) – chocolates that appeared when we thought we couldn’t eat another thing – but of course we did. Delicious, subtle, zingy. (It is a little hard to quell the superlatives)
Kahwa – a take home gift (very much à la mode in the flash US restaurants) a fab cashew shortbread that I was extremely thankful not to have confiscated when I went through security at Mumbai and which I happily and greedily ate during my lengthy transit at Honkers.
Masque Restaurant Unit Gala (G3) Laxmi Woollen Mills, Shakti Mills Lane off Dr E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai