“You cannot get an influence from the cuisine of a country if you don’t understand it. You’ve got to study it.” – Chef Ferran Adria
‘OPA!’ is a very well known enthusiastic Greek expression commonly used to express some kind of celebration. According to ancient Greek philosophy, this word is known to have two sides. While one side refers to uplifting spirits, the other side refers to human awareness towards life’s potential and innumerable opportunities.
LOCATION & AMBIENCE:
Located on the seventh floor of the Peninsula grand hotel right next to Saki Naka metro station, Opa! exudes charm, elegance and glamour right from it’s entrance. The hypostyle dining hall spread across a vast space is divided into the lounge and the cafe areas which are separated from each other by an elegantly styled passageway displaying artistic arcades on top supported by sturdy pillars and lined by enclosed cabinets along the sides containing a wide range of cigars and other art work on display which are also available for retail. The cafe side, where we were escorted to, has a huge royal throne standing tall in one of the corners, plenty of fake palm tree plantations here and there that give the dining space a soothing scenic appearance. The heavy dining chairs and the stone engraved tables are brought in from Jaipur while the sheesha apparatus are said to be imported all the way from Dubai. Certain areas of the dining area have occasional special private enclosures on raised platforms meant for families or groups of 6, with comfortable royal seating around large dining tables with curtains. The dining area is dimly lit with plenty of artistic lamps and chandeliers. That this restaurant is designed by a Dubai based interior designer is very evident, as the mesmerizing interiors and decor are very reminiscent of the architecture in Dubai and are sure to transport you all the way there!
Their whisky based signature cocktail, the Opa! 300 containing passion fruit syrup, Jamaican flavoured breezer and sour mix had a very pleasant and refreshingly citrusy and sweet taste. The vodka based signature cocktail, Opa! Special containing Baileys, Kalhua, coffee syrup and some fresh cream had a very mesmerizing aroma of coffee and the fresh cream toned down the bitterness of the coffee and the coffee liquor making it a strong flavoured yet a well balanced drink. The Arak Shots that we tried next, were shots of a clear, colourless, unsweetened liquor having a mild aroma of aniseed that left a pleasing tingly sensation as it trickled down our throats. The Caramel Cappuccino that one of us tasted, received an affirmative nod as well.
Hot Mezze Platter
This platter comprised of long, well spiced, moist, tender, juicy and flavourful Adana Kebabs which also had wonderfully slight smoky notes; the well marinated, skewered and grilled chicken Shish Taouk Kebabs with diced bell peppers that had mildly spicy and tangy flavours courtesy the tangy and citrusy yoghurt based marinade that they were all dressed in; crispy, deep fried Falafel patties with a crunchy exterior enclosing a flavourful mixture of mashed chickpeas and subtle spices; a creamy and smooth Hummus made of well ground chickpeas seasoned with tahini, olive oil and sumac; another variety of Grilled chunks of Chicken which were a DISAPPOINTMENT due to their tough consistency and could have been more tender and juicy instead; generous amount of crispy French Fries served with lettuce, large green chillies, pickled vegetables; and perfectly baked Pita Bread which were adequately light, soft and well puffed up with layers of the baked dough beautifully separated from within to form a pocket.
Cold Mezze Platter
Yet another batch of baked and crispy fried Pita bread quarters was served with five different dips which included the soft, pulpy and coarse Baba Ghanoush made of roasted and mashed eggplants imparting a wonderfully smoky taste with a mild tanginess imparted by the tomatoes, a slight crunch imparted by the finely chopped onions and the olive oil binding these ingredients well together to form a paste; the Muhammarah or the hot pepper dip which had slight fruity notes with a substantial kick but completely missed out on the peculiar moderate spiciness and was overly tangy instead, hence DISAPPOINTING; a thick and creamy, yoghurt based dip with olive oil called Labneh with a very appealing mildly sour flavour; and two varieties of creamy and smooth Hummus of which ONE was overly tangy and a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT while the other tasted fine; some lettuce and pickled vegetables.
Deep fried panko crusted fritters with a crispy exterior were stuffed generously with perfectly soft, buttery and pale cream-coloured Brie Cheese with a pronounced aroma and a mild fruity, nutty and tangy flavour drizzled with very minimal but optimal amount of Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, enough to again impart some sweet and tangy notes and were served over dollops of a spicy and slightly tangy Jalapeño Relish that added a whole new dimension to the flavour of the dish.
Cushiony soft breads were stuffed with spiced, tender and moist minced chicken meat and were served with greens and a thick and smooth dip called Toum, which had a strong garlic-y and mildly citrusy flavour.
Absolutely juicy prawns were cooked by tossing them in a tangy, mildly spicy, flavourful and thick gravy along with some vegetables like tomatoes, olives, jalepenos and onions that imparted some crunch to the dish and were glazed with Arak that played a key role in enhancing the spices and making them more pronounced.
MAIN COURSE: 3.5/5
Fish And Chips
This was their take on the traditional English recipe comprising of beer battered Pomfret, fried to give a crispy, thin crust enclosing a juicy and tender meat within. The beer effectively gave a lighter texture to the batter and an orange-brown colour. It was served with a Tartare Sauce which tasted right with a mild hint of lemon juice BUT completely missed out on the peculiar rough consistency as the abundance of mayonnaise in it imparted it a creamy smooth texture instead. The thick, bright green and lumpy Mushy Peas would have been a better accompaniment had they imparted a slightly minty flavour to it. This one again came with a plenty of perfectly crispy French Fries which tasted TOO SALTY though.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
This was their take on the classic and rich English steamed dessert made with apricots and dates. Though the pudding appeared to be moist and sticky from the outside, it was quite dry from within. The piping hot pudding with a wafting aroma, rested in a pool of toffee sauce which was relatively runny instead of being thick, heavy and gooey, thereby FAILING to impart the much needed stickiness and the moist texture to the pudding. It was served with a scoop of creamy, smooth vanilla ice cream atop.
Chocolate Expresso Fudge
A rich, creamy, smooth, spongy, moist and literally melting in the mouth chocolate pastry was flavoured with Kahlúa to impart a perfectly bittersweet taste with a hint of coffee. It was served along with some white chocolate bits and dust that was drizzled all over the serving plate with a scoop of creamy, smooth, sweet and slightly nutty Hazelnut Ice Cream resting calmly amidst all the white chocolate mess right beside the pastry.
Rich and sweet pastries made up of layers of phyllo sheets rolled to form a cylindrical, crispy, flaky and sticky exterior filled with grossly chopped nuts like walnuts, pistachios, etc. sweetened and held together with honey that was not only used to bind the filling together but also so generously drizzled all over the crispy phyllo rolls, imparting it a deliciously sweet and nutty crunch in every bite. While this famous Turkish dessert is traditionally served with thick, creamy and rich Kaymak or clotted cream, here it was served with some fresh, light and airy whipped cream instead.
The service was very warm, welcoming, kind and polite. The attendants are not only cheerful, but they also give you good food suggestions. They still need to work on effective communication skills though. The PR Sneha and the head chef were wonderful hosts who ensured time and again that we were having a good time.
Beverages – 4.5/5
Food quality – 4/5
Food quantity – 4/5
Ambience – 4.5/5
Service – 4/5