You know the drill: a restaurant opens, you make reservations, show up, eat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Surely there's a better way to try something new? Actually, there is. Chew your way out of your comfort zone with six culinary adventures unfolding right here in Mumbai. Take a bite...
Try a pop-up restaurant
Best for: Those who like surprises and off-beat meals
Recently, culinary company Small Fry Co launched its pop-up restaurant, The Secret Ingredient, focusing on regional Indian cuisines such as traditional Assamese, Sindhi, Mangalorean, Bohri, or a complete Onam-special Kerala sadhya.
The Nomadic Kitchen, launched by boutique catering company Eat Drink Design, gives a modern twist to Western food. And at the Secret Supper Project, the venue is a mystery until the last moment, adding to the fun.
The Secret Ingredient: Rs 1,000-2,000 per head. Follow Small Fry Co on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
The Nomadic Kitchen: Rs 1,800. Follow The Nomadic Kitchen India on Facebook for updates.
A Secret Supper Project meal: Rs 3,000-3,500 (including cocktails). Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring home a chef
Best for: Those with big kitchens and bigger appetites
Why go out to eat when you can bring the chef home? New venture Hoppingchef.com will present 10 top chefs that you can choose for a bespoke meal in your own home (after browsing their profiles on the site).
"It could be a menu based on a single ingredient such as Schezwan pepper, or a menu that focuses on a specific theme," says Shaival Chandra, the site's co-founder. "We can even do a 12-course dessert menu plated like pieces of art."
Launching soon. Log on to www.hoppingchef.com and sign up.
Take a cook-and-eat class
Best for: Those who want to know how to do it right and eat it too
Birthday party with a twist? How about lessons in making cupcakes, fondue or sushi with friends? Culinary institutes such as Studio Fifteen and APB Cook Studio offer customised classes for groups. "A group of 12-24 comes in, learns to bake, makes party snacks, and then eats and hangs out," explains Pooja Dhingra of Studio Fifteen.
Love to eat but not to cook? Dhingra also conducts the bi-Dubious Dinners by chef Gresham Fernandes, who plates up an eight-course meal and shares details, such as the cut of the meat. And Rushina Munshaw of APB Cook Studio is launching a Demo-and-Dine series this October, where people will converse about food. "Some people would rather indulge in an intellectual conversation on food, instead of learn to cook," she says.
Log on to www.studiofifteen.in and www.apbcookstudio.com for updates Go on a food hunt
Best for: Hunter-gatherers who like to earn their supper
The Food Bloggers Association of India (FBAI) conducts a Food Hunt every two months in different parts of the city. Teams of four crack clues that lead them to restaurants in the chosen area, where exciting food challenges await them. This could be anything from making a salad, to guessing ingredients of a preparation, making creative shapes using noodles, or cooking a creative dish in a stipulated time.
The Hunt ends at the host venue, over more food and banter. "The idea is to give people something to do on a Sunday morning. The Hunt offers seven to eight distinct culinary experiences, and that’s exciting," says freelance journalist Bhisham Mansukhani, who is part of the FBAI community and a volunteer for the Food Hunt.
Rs 500 to Rs 650 per head. Follow FBAI on Facebook and Twitter for updates Order it prix-Fixe
Best for: The confused diner who just can't make up his mind
For those of us stuck in a rut or ordering old favourites and safe bets, a set menu is a great way to break free and get better value for money. Joss, Jam Jar Diner, Kofuku, Aoi, Mamagoto (Mama Tiffins), Neel, Mekong at the Palladium Hotel, and many others offer set menus.
You can also try a curated menu by Gourmetitup.com, a dining service that collaborates with over 100 restaurants in the city to design special menus at a lower price – a great way to try something new.
Visit gourmetitup.com; and follow the restaurants and hotels on Twitter and Facebook for updates on their set menus Wait for those magical weeks, then pounce!
Best for: Those who want to eat at fancy restaurants again and again without maxing out their credit cards
Restaurant Week India is held twice every year, in April and September, and allows diners to indulge in a fine-dine experience at a much lower price. The three-course set menus provide a slice of the restaurant’s culinary potential.
The Chef’s Table Week is held in July and in November. "This event is all about the chef, where he gets a chance to experiment with the menu and create six courses that he feels represents his restaurant. The diners also get a chance to interact with the chef about the food he prepares," explains Mangal Dalal, co-founder, Cellar Door Hospitality, and culinary consultant.
Register on restaurantweekindia.com. Chef’s Table Week will be held in November; meals are priced at Rs 2,500. Log on to chefstableweek.com
From HT Brunch, November 2
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