Peninsula Next (Sion, Mumbai)

Right – I have had enough! The next “food critic” I see using the term “lip-smacking” for delectable food is likely to experience my full undefiled wrath! I mean it’s beggar’s belief that restaurant critics, even ones of notable acclaim, find it rather in vogue to use a phrase that seems to have its origins in an Aunt Bessy’s ham advert (2003) and which has since been re-hashed in a number of advertisements for fast food establishments. With an unthinkably vast lexicon to describe food – just type it in any popular search engine – this most ineloquent phrase is so needless.

On to Peninsula Next, I certainly wasn’t pulling out the list of superlative synonyms. The fare is decent, rather safe, but adjectives like delectable, ambrosial or celestial would be going just too far.

Mysterious would be an adjective to describe the Peninsula Special Mocktail. After an agonizingly long pause, the waiter informs me it’s made with pineapple juice, ice cream and khus syrup. It arrives, with a greenish tinge (I guess that’s the Khus Syrup!?), and streaks of what look like chocolate sauce down the side of the glass. It’s pleasant in a bit the same way eaitng a mars bar is; endorphins run to the brain upon that sugary high, but I have no ability to distinguish any flavours beyond that sugary hit.

I’m reliably informed the “Mixed Tandoori Platter” would be too much for a lone diner like myself; so I ordered it and almost finished it all, save for the mushrooms which I had no cares for. The mint chutney on the tandoori aloo deserves a special mention: it was zesty and rather delicious. The spicier red marinade on the baby corn, paneer and cauliflower was satisfactory, with a special mention for the freshness of the vegetables. The presentation salad, however, looked like a relic from a 1970s Chinese Restaurant, and would have been best omitted.

The Kabuli Naan was a delightful combination of cherries, dried fruit, coconut and chopped almonds. It would have been perfect had it have been cooked fractionally longer. The dough was still gluttonous and raw in places. Nevertheless, I can tolerate a bit of chewy bread from time to time when it tastes like this! The masala chai to finish the meal was a bit pricey at INR 160, but pleasant.

For many, I’m sure the place, being rather less trendy than many new establishments, would be a source of disquietude. However I rather liked the old school ambience, with the wood panels, proper table cloths and waiters in suit and tie.

I nostalgically look back at the days of gueridon service, proper Russian service, waiters in tuxedos, dimly lit rooms and starched white table clothes with envy. If there is something that average restaurants lack in this day and age it’s that very formality, that very pomp and ceremony. This is what used to make restaurant dining special, sacred and completely different from eating around the home dining table. Peninsula gave some passing nods to tradition and fine dining , but it still has further to go in both food and ambience.

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