Catherine’s – ITC Maratha (Andheri, Mumbai)

It’s 6pm in the evening and I’m frantically racking my brain for a casual dinner option near the International Airport. I am trying to fit in a dinner before flying back that evening to the motherland for a brief sojourn.

I remember Catherine’s. What a lovely name: Catherine. I say it again and my decision is made. Just based on the sound of that name, I think I could marry a Catherine if presented the opportunity. Its origins lie in the Greek word katharos meaning pure. Catherine of Alexandria, one of the virgin Saints, was probably one of the first Catherine’s in recorded history.

ITC Catherine starts off well with “The Final Redemption” – a virgin’s cocktail. It’s a joyous mix of oranges, slightly tangy and sweet in perfect proportion. She’s gone the extra mile and laid out the nuts, crisps and some delightful cheese straws (good thinking).

However it’s her punctuality I found the most infuriating. On a Friday, two staff are trying to cover the whole restaurant. A guest should never have to raise his voice or desperately wave for service. It almost felt like a History’s Boys rendition of Gracie Fields “Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye” with me clamouring for the attention of ever departing waiters.

The Penne Pesto Genovese takes between 35-45 mins to arrive. Catherine’s waiters, clearly from Venus, look at me like a Martian as I explain my pressing need for efficiency. I get some automated response about all dishes taking over 30 mins from ordering. I’m not quire sure how such a retrospective announcement is acceptable. It reminds me of the 5 minute dribble I have to endure as to why my Air India Flight is delayed by almost two hours…Yes I know the cabin crew also faced the same abhorrent Mumbai traffic, but unlike me, they weren’t giving it a sprint down Airport Road to make sure they were punctual. I send a Whatsapp to my family: “If I die on the flight, please make it known that airlines should be run in free markets and not by governments. Sadly, competition in the hotel space hasn’t lead to desirable outcomes either…

For heaven’s sake it’s pasta with a pre-made sauce and few veggies. Cooking time on pasta is around 10 minutes and surely an organised kitchen has its mise en place? My Uncle long ago was cooking up spaghetti on the Gueridon in front of German customers, such is the speed at which a decent pasta can be made.

I anxiously count the minutes go by anticipating a masterpiece of a dish. When it finally arrives, the delicacy of pesto sauce has been needlessly ruined with the addition of a blonde roux/cream (why do Mumbai restaurants always do this?). The veggies would have been more suitable in a stir-fry given that there’s some finely sliced baby corn, courgettes and peppers. The pasta is also a tad overcooked for my liking. Ultimately, it’s a heavy dish that I am unable to finish.

Now I’m frantically rushing to get my flight, marred with sweat and hacked off that ITC can’t rustle me up a quick pasta.

Oh Catherine you sound so enchanting with your sweet name and your wooden wicker seating in your airy conservatory, but you’ve kept me waiting, tantalised me for an eternity and then wholly disappointed when it got down to it.

Dare I say it, just like many other British females that have gone before…

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