San Qi – Four Seasons (Worli, Mumbai)

Perusing the web, I see on a fasting website that a diet of “bread and water” forces one to differentiate between what one “wants” and what one “needs”. San-Qi’s Sunday Brunch forces its guests to reflect on this little nugget of worldly wisdom. I’m not sure how anyone would be desirous of anything beyond the simple confines of bread and water at this woeful attempt at a fine dine breakfast.

The bread with apricots and nuts, the warm focaccia and wholemeal sliced bread – the first installment along the dual level buffet procession – lure you into a false sense of security at San-Qi. The bread is delicious. By the time, the businessman, who I dined with, calls for the butter, I was already scouring the buffet in hope of finer things.

On the first floor, everything has a rather ghastly and generic “pan-Asian” air about it. A few notable abominations include spinach noodles in green tea and “soupy gloup” (the sweetcorn soup) which was like nose diving into a pit of quick sand. The samosas were the only hint of Indian cuisine I could find on either floor and were passable although excruciatingly dry, as they had been left sitting under the lights since the start of service I imagine.

More Asian dishes, which are brought to the table, are found lurking at the end of the first level counter. We collectively called for the salt and pepper potatoes and some more spinach noodles (this time minus the green tea). Sadly, these dishes took over 30 minutes to arrive and only after mentioning this several times to various different waitresses. This included the rather haughty but well spoken manager, who also proposed in a pitiful gesture of consolation if I would like some stir fried vegetables as well, which again arrived another eternity later after the other dishes.

In the interim, I found refuge in a bowl of penne with tomato sauce ( I didn’t realise pasta was now a pan-Asian speciality). I was comforted to see the packets of De Cecco on full display, but slightly irked by the rather oleaginous sauce. I can appreciate a rather lavish drizzle of olive oil when plating the pasta, but not to cook the sauce in pools of it.

The dessert counter bestows more atrocities on the obstreperous guests to be found in the Four Seasons. The puff pastry square with a raspberry topping is heavy and tasteless, despite being fervently pitched to me by the pastry chef as a “must try”. The Chocolate Soufflé, found in a self contained corner of the restaurant was without a doubt the most heinous and abhorrent dessert I have ever witnessed. I had seen the Soufflé ramekins lying around on the counter and had specifically checked with the man operating the dessert oven, like a railway boy firing a steam train, whether a decent Soufflé was even a remote possibility. “Yes Sir, Yes Sir” was the reply. The Soufflé arrived at the table, completely sunk, heavy and burnt.

At this stage, I must point out the obstreperous nature of the guests, who are found on the large table besides us. In curt imperative-filled sentences, these guests order waiters around like servants of a by-gone age from their burnished thrones of social sanctimony. Much to my dismay, I see they are served on time without similar mishaps of our own service. It seems such a travesty, that meekness really isn’t majesty when it comes to serving guests at San-Qi.

However it seems many establishments have forgotten that restaurant criticism is still the meek man’s parade of justice and remains one of the best ways of bringing such culinary chicanery to light.

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