A decade ago, the seven-course meal may have been a culinary luxury statement of sorts. But its demand seems to have diminished steeply since. City chefs are unanimous in their opinion that four-or-five course meals work better for urban diners who barely have the time to enjoy a long meal anymore.
"Most diners are too health-conscious and don’t want to eat much, even though the purpose of such meals is to be able to try more things, rather than eat a lot," says Tarang Joshi, chef de cuisine at Indigo, Colaba.
Executive chef Joy Bhattacharya from Trident, Nariman Point, agrees. "We get more requests for four-five courses. We also recommend diners to not buy into the idea of having seven courses at a premium price if they aren’t going to enjoy every bit of it."
At The Four Seasons, Worli, too, executive chef Clinton Cooper gets requests for seven-course meals only from hardcore foodies. "Tapas-style platters and sharing menus work better here, but set menus are trendy, so people like trying them," he says.
Some of those who do fancy the idea believe that seven courses mean too much food. But that’s definitely a thing of the past now. If you’re under the impression that by the fourth or fifth course, you’d regret paying for the final few, maybe it’s time to book a table and let the meal prove you wrong.
Planning the meal
Chefs take us through the basic guidelines they follow while preparing a seven-course menu:
Two hours and 15 minutes is the minimum time it should take. Anything less is a forced seven-course meal.
The average appetite is 500-600 gm per head, so design small portions.
Depending on the budget, use a mix of premium and regular ingredients. Value for money is also determined by factors like cutlery, crockery, flower arrangements, table setting etc.
Start with cold food and ease into hot dishes. An bite-size portion is served to get the palate excited and provide an idea of what’s to come.
The first and last two courses are usually vegetarian. If egg must be incorporated, a salad is the best place to put it in.
Courses don’t necessarily have to complement each other, but start with mild flavours and move to heavier ones for the main course. Go lighter towards dessert again.
An ideal course plan at most restaurants is: cold/hot soup — salad/pasta — seafood — meat main course — cheese — dessert. A sorbet is offered as a palate cleanser in between the two courses where the chef feels it’s most appropriate.
Taking the courses
To put all the theories to test, Chef Tarang Joshi at Indigo, Colaba designed a special seven-course lunch for us.
1st course: Chilled Tomato Basil Consommé, Mozzarella Spears
2nd course: Grilled Artichoke Hearts with Rosemary Aioli
3rd course: Chicken Liver Tortellini, Chanterelle, Cauliflower puree and almonds
4th course: Crispy Skin Snapper, Braised Radicchio and Orange Saffron Butter
In between courses: Lychee slush with Lemongrass Vodka
5th course: New Zealand Lamb Chop with minted peas, garlic custard and jus
6th course: Baked Brie with fruit and Nut Toast
7th course: Chocolate Fondant, Homemade Vanilla Bean ice cream and cherries.