Arth offers plush interiors to go with its prices, but little of note on the plate | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Arth offers plush interiors to go with its prices, but little of note on the plate

Traditional recipes are cooked in a gas-free kitchen, but the presentation is more remarkable than the flavours.

mumbai Updated: Sep 09, 2017 11:51 IST
Antoine Lewis
Sumptuously designed Arth in Khar offerse a variety of nooks for the well-heeled. The food, though, feels dated and unmemorable.
Sumptuously designed Arth in Khar offerse a variety of nooks for the well-heeled. The food, though, feels dated and unmemorable. (Aalok Soni / Hindustan Times)
Arth
  • Rating: 2.5 / 5
  • Where: 604, PD Hinduja Junction, Khar Pali Road, Khar
  • When: 12 -3 pm; 7 pm - 1 am. Mon closed
  • Cost: Rs 4,000 for two with one cocktail each
  • Call: 95940-60038 for reservations

Arth has been designed to impress. A tall, thick door heaves open to the hostess’s desk and expansive lounge. Shiny black-and-white flooring calls to mind a gentleman’s club, though the gold-rimmed black pillows on chaise lounges, bronze side tables, faux trophy animals and chandeliers betray a more Trumpian aesthetic.

It’s lunchtime and the temple of gaudy ostentatious-ness is empty. In the night, I’d imagine it’s filled with a congregation dressed in designer shirts, carrying designer bags, wearing designer shoes and trading tales of the Croatian coast.

A spiral wooden staircase leads up to the dining area, full, with noisy children running around. Even though natural light floods in, the space seems dull. You get the feeling it too would be more elegant at night, in the yellow glow from the many chandeliers and bright display kitchen.

Arth in Khar gets a lot of natural light but you get the feeling it would be more elegant at night, in the yellow glow from the many chandeliers and bright display kitchen. (Aalok Soni / Hindustan Times)

Chef Amninder Sandhu’s decision to opt for a gas-free kitchen is laudable, as is the research that has gone into working ingredients like tengamora (roselle) from Assam into the menu. Both would have been more meaningful if they had found expression in the food.

Topped with ruby-red pomegranates, the rhododendron seekhs on a wooden stave make a pretty picture. However, they taste more like a light, beetroot-rich version of a hara bhara kebab. The rhododenderon tag remains something of a mystery.

Arth’s rhododendron seekhs taste like light, beetroot-rich hara bhara kebabs. What prompted the rhododendron tag, we still don’t know. (Aalok Soni/ Hindustan Times)

Arth does an unusual version of pathar ka ghosht, in which thin slices of meat are replaced with soft, chunky pieces. Clearly too much tenderiser has gone into the marinade, for the mutton comes apart too easily.

Our charcoal bharta is closer to tasty masaledar than smoky baingan. Unmoulded into a deep soup bowl with two thickish phulkas resting on the side, it’s not impressive plating.

The Oriya deomali mutton is pulled out of a smoked, hollowed-out piece of bamboo and arranged on a bed of jasmine rice, the curry from the bamboo then poured over it. The presentation was memorable; sadly, the flavours were not. (Aalok Soni / HT Photo)

The meats, though, are presented with flair. The skull cracker arrives in a soup bowl, where a cloud of meringue is cracked open and a perfectly cooked lamb brain lifted out and placed on two chochors, a sort of Kashmiri bagel.

From a glass beaker, the thin gravy is then delicately poured over. The combination of chewy bread, creamy brains and mildly spiced gravy is divine.

Arth’s skull cracker is a brain preparation that arrives under a cloud of meringue and is served on Kashmiri bread. From a glass beaker, the thin gravy is then delicately poured on top. (Aalok Soni/ Hindustan Times)

There’s a touch of drama to the Oriya deomali mutton curry as well. A skewer of tender mutton pieces is pulled out of a smoked, hollowed-out piece of bamboo and arranged on a bed of jasmine rice, the curry from the bamboo poured over it. However, the curry was too lightly spiced and not particularly memorable.

The Telugu paper sweet, with its fine layers and powdered-nut filling, is a great idea. But take one spoon and you realise it’s a messy dessert best eaten over the kitchen sink, where the delicate rice flakes can fly where they want.

Arth’s Telugu paper sweet, with its fine layers and powdered nut filling is a messy dessert best eaten over the kitchen sink, where the delicate rice flakes can fly where they want. (Aalok Soni/ Hindustan Times)

Our plate of jalebis with rabdi is left mostly untouched as we find the jalebis taste over-fermented. This does not go unnoticed and we aren’t charged for either dessert.

Two years ago, Arth might have been considered cutting-edge. Today, it’s just another new-age Indian restaurant with fancy plates, but for the rich and fabulous.

HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals