What: TAG GourmArt Kitchen by Ranveer Brar
Rating: 4 / 5
Where: 1st & 2nd Floor, Kamala City, Trade View Building, Near Gate 5, Lower Parel
When: 11.30 am to 11.30 pm
Cost: Rs 2,500 for a meal for two, with one drink each
Every vegetarian restaurant enthusiast in the city seems to be talking about this place. Many meat eaters we know aren’t disappointed by it either. The restaurant’s official name is TAG (The Amateur Gallery) GourmArt Kitchen by Ranveer Brar. It’s a bigger mouthful than many of the dishes on the menu, and this is a very good thing.
The daytime menu starts with four soups, then goes on to six(!) pages of small plates, punctuated by a compact selection of sushi and flatbreads, before heading right to dessert. It’s a menu that allows two of us to eat ten things at lunch, and still not roll out belly first.
Have soup. The chilled melon gazpacho with a swirl of tart tofu cream is light, sweet, savoury, and exactly what a 38ºC April afternoon wants. Or have a cold plate of hand-torn burrata. Put a lush bit of the cheese on a piece of the twig-thin curry leaf ciabatta, and balance it with green tomato chhunda and peppery arugula. This is the thing with TAG: every element is meticulously composed, good enough to have on its own. In the roasted pumpkin salad, toasted quinoa is textural magic when paired with yogurt-sesame dressing and buttery pumpkin.
For chaat, TAG has crisp, chutney-drizzled kale fritters and filo squares wedged into a bed of spiced riced potatoes, alongside a rosette of yogurt espuma. It begs to be Instagrammed, like everything else. Even the garnish, bright, spicy, earthy, chewy, brunoise-sized nibbles of beet, demand attention. Mantu, tortellini-like dumplings, are served on a hearty lentil-tomato sauce under tangy yogurt, stuffed with minced veggies.
The restaurant’s substantial name tells you exactly what to expect. Step off on the first-floor bar, look around at the current exhibit of photographs by school children. Upstairs, a cool sunlit room balances the natural with the man-made – wooden tables and acrylic chairs, dangling Edison bulbs and graphic art, well-stocked bookshelves under etched reflective copper.
We didn’t love everything we tried. Reflections, a cocktail with rum, pineapple and blue curaçao, is the colour of a mossy lake, and tastes of tacky Tiki bar tipple. The konyakkuyaki, inspired by Japanese takoyaki, only reminded us of a bonda with chutney.
At TAG, a flatbread adds heft to a meal. The spinach, garlic, parsley one is an excellent bet, light yet satisfying.
Have two desserts, they’re as inventive as the rest of Brar’s interpretations. Purple cabbage and cranberry panna cotta has sweet balsamic pearls on it. A chocolate fondant sounds boring until its molten centre is revealed to be redolent with thyme, and the vanilla ice cream it hugs contains a touch of pepper. Indeed, there is plenty to talk about.
(HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals)