Here’s an astonishingly pretty restaurant in a notably unlovely structure. The exterior of the Bombay Art Society Building has been compared to a faceless robot with a skin condition on its back. Su Casa – a brand new restaurant by the folks who gave us Pali Village Cafe, and Pali Bhavan – is accessed via a driveway that goes around BASB to its rear; the somewhat hidden away eatery is as calming as the building that houses it is alarming. This is expected; the folks behind PVC and PB are known for creating seductive but still cozy spaces in unlikely spots, ones diners tend to quickly make their own.
Su Casa follows. It’s swathed in natural materials and textures: stone and wood on the floors, clay flatware, leafy potted plants suspended from the ceiling of a cool French-windowed dining room, bare wooden tables, and sun-drenched vertical gardens on the periphery of a large lightly tented multi-level al fresco section.
The press release said to expect European food at Su Casa, but there are several asides from the Americas and Asia. We suspect, this will work both for and against it.
Fans of PVC would know there is little to worry about here when it comes to technique; almost everything on the menu is prepared with a sense of confidence. Generously sized, green-on-pink prawns chermoula are so good, we licked the tails clean. Swiss fondue is a house rendition, spiked with herbs, more creamy than stringy. To dip: warm rosemary- and garlic-spiked root veggies, including yam, carrot and tapioca. These endow each bite with a heft that croutons could never. A beef tostada seems demanding in comparison; chewy strips of meat on a tortilla that’s been deep fried a while ago, its sweet grilled peppers only providing mild relief.
It’s with dishes like this one that questions arise. Why would you open a place that serves familiar European and international dishes in 2017, when they’re hardly as exciting as they were in 2010? It’s hard to be enlivened these days by a page of fuddy pastas (mushroom risotto, spaghetti aglio e olio) or a roasted tomato or mushroom soup. No matter how full flavoured, we’ve seen so many of them. Yes, there’s a three peppercorn-crusted grilled chicken breast, on cranberry and thyme jus you want to dip fries in. Of course, the wholegrain mustard seed-flecked filet of local red snapper on couscous and a ginger-orange sauce makes a fine meal. And what could go wrong with a pannacotta with its heritage from PVC?
Still, it feels like bets are being hedged in every way – there are baos containing tempura and falafel, tabbouleh with (what else but) quinoa. Indeed, service is prompt, the place sublime, and the food adeptly executed and seasoned – vegetarians, the shiitake and broccoli bao is pretty pretty good.
But you’re left with this thought: from the folks who give us such dishes such as caramelised apple tortellini with goat cheese, and paan leaf-wrapped kulfi, we expected unfamiliar flavours that would inspire a greater sense of wonder.
WHAT: Su Casa
RATING: 3 / 5
WHERE: The Bombay Art Society Building, Ground Floor, ahead of Lilavati hospital, Bandra Reclamation, opposite Hotel Rangsharda, Bandra (West)
WHEN: 11.30 am to 1 am
COST: Approximately Rs 2,500 for a meal for two with a drink each
CALL: 2651 5511 / 22