“Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.” – Shiv Khera
I’m pretty sure that thinking on similar lines, Mr. Sahil Tyagi, a second generation entrepreneur, was driven to open a lounge in Byculla, a locality that very much needed one. The name of this merely 3-month old restaurant, as unique or unusual as it may seem, simply supports the theme of the restaurant that encourages budding entrepreneurs to overcome their fear of failure and progress towards their goal with a lion’s heart!
The air-conditioned dining area is divided into adequately lit upper and lower sections with a large projector screen on one of the walls screening ongoing sports, bright blue couches lined along the walls, comfortable wooden chairs and wooden tables. The decor is designed thoughtfully to support the theme of the restaurant at certain places. The wall along the stairs lined by blue neon lights, for instance, boasts inspirational quotes by famous entrepreneurs like Azim Premji, Steve Jobs, etc and the framed photographs of lions in various poses on one of the walls on the upper level further encourage people to chase their dreams without fear!
The solkadi served in shot glasses was tangy-sour and refreshing. The prawns stuffed into the crispy puris were juicy with wonderfully earthy notes while the crispy sev, finely diced onions and tomatoes and coriander leaves also captured the essence of a chaat very well.
Pav Bhaji Fondue
This was a classic example of execution of a brilliant idea gone all wrong as the fondue albeit it’s optimally thick consistency, completely missed out on the characteristic moderately spicy and chatpata flavour of Pav Bhaji. The butter toasted bite-sized pieces of Pav (Indian bread) thoughtfully and interestingly replacing the regular croutons, sadly couldn’t turn this dish into a success on their own.
Mutton Kheema Cannelloni
Well cooked cannelloni with an appealingly chewy texture were stuffed with a flavourful, tender and moist preparation of minced mutton. However, the excess of cheese used in the sauce drowning the pasta so as to cater to the Indian taste, very effectively mellowed down the robust richness of the mutton preparation and made it excessively milky-sweet for my liking.
Chicken Kebab Sampler
While all the varieties of the kebabs in the platter revealed faint smoky notes owing to the charred specs on the chicken imparted by the tandoor, only the Pahadi Tikka with it’s fresh, earthy and minty flavour and the moderately spicy and mildly tangy Chicken Tikka were succulent and juicy. The Reshmi Tikka, on the other hand, grossly missed out on it’s creamy and melt-in-the-mouth consistency and was tough instead; clearly indicating that they were a tad bit overcooked.
Chicken Tikka Chaat
A combination of tender chunks of mildly spicy and smoky chicken tikka, sweet yogurt, fresh and minty green chutney, sweet saunt chutney and light and crispy cheeselings served in a martini glass that this was, it was a very interesting carnivorous twist to the routine chaat preparations that we all are familiar with!
Salt & Pepper Fish
While the uber crispy and thick battered crust let out a sharp crunch in every bite, it revealed Basa (frozen) having no inherent flavour and an extremely flaky texture within; this extremity of the varied textures of the battered crust and the fish within established a strong disconnection between the two and rendered it unappetising. Moreover, the tadka of spices on top was a completely failed attempt to impart some flavour to the otherwise tasteless Basa within.
The succulent and moist chicken easily separating off the bone wonderfully revealed a warm, zesty and mildly spicy flavour of the marinade along with faint smoky notes.
Lifafa Chicken Biryani
The thin, crispy and flaky baked phyllo parcel enclosed a mild, aromatic and flavourful preparation of long grain rice, all courtesy the aromatic spices used. It was delicately yet adequately spiced so as to render it a savoury taste without making it excessively and unnecessarily spicy. Another sign of this being a good biryani was the fact that the rice grains didn’t stick to one another.
The desserts, unfortunately, didn’t live upto my high expectations after a delicious and innovatively good meal of 5 hits and just 2 misses out of the 8 dishes that we sampled in total. A sharp sugary-sweet flavour quite effectively overpowered the flavour of the crunchy hazelnuts and the bitter-sweet flavour of chocolate in the Hazelnut Chocolate Dome. The Molten Lava Cake had complete potential to be a winner had it not been a bit undercooked and doughy in certain areas and had the lava within been more free-flowing and warm. The Tres Leches turned out to be a misnomer as it seemed to have nothing but alternating layers of cream and sponge cake which simply missed out on the milk-soaked texture.
The Appletini turned out to be a well balanced and refreshing green apple flavoured cocktail revealing faint fruity tones. The Tsunami with it’s sharp tang and faint bitter notes is sure to please whisky aficionados. By The Beach turned out to be tad too sweet a concoction for a perfect blend of alcohol and the other ingredients. The Seven Wonders wasn’t as potent as we expected a LIIT comprising seven varieties of spirits to be.
The service was very warm, welcoming and swift. The dishes kept arriving at the table at a steady and consistent pace that didn’t seem to be lacking throughout the meal. Mr. Sahil, the owner was a bright, cheerful and gracious host and so was the head chef Vishal, who was all ears to our food related queries and always keen on taking feedback.
With a good ambience, great service and a limited food menu with a dash of innovation, this lounge is one of it’s kind in a location like Byculla with reasonable pricing too! While the appetizers and the mains were simply great, they clearly need to work on their desserts so as to ensure a perfectly sweet ending to an otherwise delicious meal.
Food quality – 3.7/5
Food quantity – 4/5
Beverages – 3/5
Ambience – 4/5
Service – 4.5/5