The motive for dining out varies from the most common ‘celebrating an occasion’ to the usual ‘got bored eating at home’ to ‘trying something new and exotic’ reasons. To elevate your mood by dressing up to dine out, look forward to a get-together of sorts, the idea of not cooking at home which ensues cleaning up – all lead to restaurants for fun, enjoyment and relaxation.
In earlier days it used to be just going out to eat but now times have changed with chefs becoming more innovative not only with ingredients but also keep re-inventing on unique ways of serving food on the table. Glistening thalis with silver-plated katoris in Gujarati/Rajasthani eateries, banana leaf service of South Indian joints or stoneware service of hi-end restaurants are passé.
Today, food served in restaurants assume artistic proportions in their presentations. So much so that you don’t feel like eating them but just go on ogling at those beauties. Visual appeal precedes palate pleasers as Nikesh Jain, owner at Restaurant 29 in Cumballa Hill says, “When the dish is brought to the table, guests first devour it visually. Though taste cannot be compromised upon, visual impact plays a big role to generate temptation.” Keeping this in mind, he pays a lot of attention to food service. For instance, Kesar Malai Peda at Twenty Nine comes in banana leaf cones on a see-saw-like contraption. They also serve starters called Four State Platter (4 different states) on a unique rack.
Pa Pa Ya, the Asian cuisine restaurant in Palladium, Lower Parel, transports burgers to your table on a mini truck, Sushis on a split-level platform and their Wasabi Palate Cleanser is a treat for the eyes. A D Singh’s Parsi outing SodaBottleOpenerwala serves dhansak, kachumbar and rice in a 3-tiered tiffin carrier reminiscent of train travels of yore when our naanis so lovingly packed lunch for the journey. Their Kheema-Baida is presented in an aluminium plate and drinks are served in glass jars.
When it comes to beverages, some restaurants are not far from being experimental with Patiala glasses
and coconut shells being replaced with more striking service. TheWhite Owl Brewery in Lower Parel serves its craft beers in mason jars with eye-catching images of owls staring at you. Social in Colaba serves drinks in Paua bottles, reminding you of the catchy Katrina Kaif number. The Bar Terminal in Sobo specializes in molecular gastronomy and promises to enchant you with smoke spewing out of Smoked Berry in a large flask-like glass. One Street Over presents cocktail Spiced Moscow Mule in a copper mug with handle and Painkiller in a masked pirate jar.
Zorawar Kalra’s Masala Library at BKC takes the cake where exemplary food service is concerned. Sev Puri comes to you riding a miniature hand rickshaw. Jalebi Caviar with Pistachio Rabdi and Saffron Foam is charmingly presented on a large white shell. Punjab Grill’s dessert platter comes with litchis, attractively designed seasonal fruits, ras malai on a bed of ice. Down The Under presents rotis and naans on a winnowing fan.
Self-confessed foodies Kalpana Parikh and her friend Shobha Wadhwani feel, “We make it a point to check out new restaurants for their innovation in dishes and food service. But we cannot be taken for a ride with just unique and beautiful presentation. At the end of the day, the dish must be tasty!” However attractive-to-the eye-presentations may be invented by the culinary authorities, nevertheless, flavour and good taste cannot be flouted where food lovers and gourmets are concerned!