Quarter past pretty: Roshini Bajaj Sanghvi reviews Dine
Skip the pasta and the poutine, bookend a meal here with oysters, smoked butter, goat cheese and strawberries.Updated: Apr 13, 2018 22:00 IST
- Where: Royal Opera House, Girgaum
- When: 10 am to 11.30 pm
- Cost: Rs 2,500 for a meal for two
- Call: 83291 10638
- Rating: 3.5 / 5
Here is a single steamed oyster, ready for a drizzle of spicy-sweet smoked butter sauce, balsamic-wine-soy-shallot dressing, and lime juice. A blue summer sky darkens over the lush canopy of trees and chirping sparrows. The branches are strung with lights.
We’re in the shadow of a gloriously restored baroque early 20th century building. Dine at The Quarter is so pretty, so atmospheric, it’s easy to ignore the blare of Mama Parmanand Marg and Warekar Bridge beyond the walls of the Royal Opera House. (Not as easy to ignore are mosquitoes that heartily dine on diners, and the odd but persistent housefly.)
Dine is only a quarter of The Quarter, the others are Drink (the wine and mozzarella bar), Live (the jazz club), and Cafe (for coffee and sandwiches), all housed within the opera house complex. Some of its menu draws inspiration from American Creole cuisine, the food of jazz’s birthplace. There are oysters, shrimp and grits, clams (with heirloom tomatoes, bacon and fried bread), jambalaya, and beignets.
There is also a vast selection of safe staples – salads and sandwiches, pasta and poutines. The best among these are Neapolitan pizzas. A wood-fired oven at the far end of the al fresco space delivers pliable pies, their charred edges holding in a runny but robust sauce.
The buffalo mozzarella on a margherita could be from Bangalore or Gujarat, the tomatoes from Pune. The plump, delicately sweet oyster is from Goa, its good-enough-to-drink-up butter sauce gets heat from Nagaland’s bhut jolokia chillies.
Dine sources all its ingredients within India, so on the silky slivers of mustard-flecked duck carpaccio are shaved shards of Pondicherry parmesan, poised on a bouncy pile of arugula, orange segments and capers – this is a plate of complementary contrasts.
Not quite the wild mushroom poutine, which is just fries, grated cheese, and a pile of mushrooms in a cream sauce that blankets the dish and most of its flavour. Linguini with pesto, avocado, and cherry tomato is well made, but feels like incidental music between arias.
Thankfully, the dessert menu has nary a fondant in sight. It includes apple cider cake; strawberry and chia pudding; and goat cheese pudding with strawberries. We choose the last one.
The set, lightly savoury-sweet, aromatic pale pink custard with the gentle tang of goat’s milk cheese and strawberry puree has a surprise crunch from the berry’s seeds. Our finale proves what we suspect – Dine succeeds when it’s being operatic. Skip the pasta and the poutines, bookend a meal here with oysters, smoked butter, goat cheese and strawberries.
(HT reviews anonymously and pays for all meals)