La Folie Lab (Bandra, Mumbai)

“All rules are to be broken”

I realise that I had previously tied myself to a mast over the fact that restaurant criticism would be best kept as a literary tradition. However, today I break my own rules with visual imagery of the revulsion I had at eating in the purportedly chic and exclusive La Folie Lab in Bandra.

“Flies are everywhere”

It’s early monsoon and the outside and inside of La Folie Lab are besieged by common flies. I’m talking swarms of pesky flies in the food preparation area, hovering around tables and on the dishes.You might be tempted to think common flies are harmless things, but they are in fact a major carrier of a plethora of diseases, from dysentary to TB. The staff also seem nonchalant to their presence. Flies feed on decaying food and dirty surfaces and if you go inside, it’s easy to see why.

The chefs clearly do not abide by the instruction “clean as you go along”. Dirty pans and bowls line the counter, as well as piped macaroon mixture left uncovered ready to be baked. This is la veritable folie (“true madness”). *Please refer to the fly photos below. The most embarrassing part of this folie is that the restaurant owners have chosen an open kitchen format. Quite frankly, anyone would have been better off not seeing the origins of such food.

Irate by what I saw, it’s difficult to objectively review the food. Anyway, the pesto pasta is average at best; the pasta was overcooked and the sauce was again made with roux/cream added. The tartines my companions ordered looked passable: basic assembled Bruschettas would be the closest approximation. At around 500 INR if I recall, they are not exactly substantial or memorable. The desserts were well made. Although the choux pastry buns on top of  the Chocolate Brest cake were tough. My other diners found the mango dessert too acidic but I enjoyed it. The oolong tea would have been nice served in a teapot, but the see- through mug was a quirky idea.

The service was abysmal. Dishes arrived completely out of sync. I had already finished my pasta dish by the time the tartines arrived. I really don’t understand the difficulty in catering to 20 covers when most of the food is an assembly job (tartines being the perfect example).

I overheard another diner complaining about her tasteless food and lamenting the fact that standards had been declining over several months. Clearly I’m not the only one… The waiter, who had once been helpful on an earlier visit, on this occasion, was morose and seemed to have lost interest. The waiting life is a tough racket (I have paid my dues in an upscale Chinese restaurant), but even a perfunctory thank you or sorry is not beyond even the most beleaguered waiters.

Overall, the experience, particularly the flies, is shameful for this calibre of restaurant. Admittedly the desserts, made in La Folie’s central bakery, were up to the mark, but the main dishes were overpriced and pedestrian.

After viewing the photos, the bottom line is: would you be comfortable eating and paying full wack in such surroundings?

If yes, you are a braveheart with few alternatives.

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