THE CLEARING HOUSE
Rating: 4 / 5
Where: 13-15, Calicut Street, Ballard Estate
When: The Foyer: noon to 3 pm; 8 pm to 10 pm The Chamber: 8 pm to 10 pm
Cost: About Rs 6,000 for a meal for two with one cocktail each
Call: 6223-2266 / 67
As you slice into the belly of the plump burrata, a thick cream spills out from under the taut mozzarella skin. The richness of the cheese is tempered by the sharp sweetness of the tomato-thyme chutney topping and the smokiness of the accompanying arugula leaves. Every luscious mouthful is a complex combination of crunchiness, tartness and creaminess. The smear of basil pesto and olive tapenade on the plate seems redundant.
That the food at The Clearing House is visually stunning with intelligently crafted flavours comes as no surprise. Promoter Rishad Nathani and executive chef Nitin Kulkarni were part of the core team of Indigo, and the new restaurant reflects the finesse and sophistication that once defined Mumbai’s best standalone restaurant.
Situated at the edge of Ballard Estate, the two-room restaurant has come up in redundant portions of an operational ice factory. Its high ceilings and large rooms offer the one thing Mumbaiites crave most — a sense of space. The Foyer, the brighter, more casual outer room, will be open for lunch and dinner, while inside, the more sombre Chamber, with its booths and extended bar, will be open only for dinner.
There’s little to find fault with at The Clearing House. The service is impeccable, the music unobtrusive, and the tables far enough apart for privacy but close enough for there to be a lively conversational buzz.
The menu, best described as modern casual, sweeps across North America, Europe and Asia and cherry-picks and often fuses elements from the three regions, offering novel interpretations of classics. In most cases, this works rather well.
The addition of bitter-sweet, crunchy moong sprouts elevates the carpaccio-style rare beef tenderloin dressed with a tart Japanese ponzu sauce.
With the apple filo, crisp, apple dices are encased in a light, feathery pastry and paired against a delicately nutty-flavoured brown-butter ice cream and a bold, sharp cranberry compote.
The honey flan is a symphony of textures: a smooth mousse-like flan; crunchy muesli; sweet, firm figs; tart, soft sour cherries and a drizzle of sticky reduced balsamic syrup. Everything holds together harmoniously.
There were some minor flaws; we were served tortellini instead of ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, and the change in pasta meant a more generous filling, which made the dish rather unpalatable.
But if The Clearing House succeeds — and given its pedigree and the quality of food and service, it should — it could be a game changer in two ways. It could signal a return to upscale casual dining in the standalone space. And it could help redefine Ballard Estate as a dining destination.