Veranda (Bandra, Mumbai)

It’s only on special occasions do I break the shackles of vegetarianism. Whilst i’m truly convinced by the veggie diet, at the same time I refuse to be a slave to it and suffer the crippling stigma of being “one of those guys”. After all as one famous chef notes:

“Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein”

I’m not sure exactly what the special occasion was on a Friday night at Veranda, perhaps it was a raucous catchup with another foreign friend that triggered these carnivorous cravings. Unfortunately, Veranda’s food left me with little desire to return to my former wholly non- vegetarian days.

The test tube shots of aam pana and dholka were a needless beginning. This amuse bouche had an abhorrent whiff of “trying to be too clever”. The result was a dish ridiculous in concept and equaly puerile in delivery. The waiter twisting the little test tubes from a contraption that looked like a hollowed version of a Connect4 board game is a complication I could do without.

The waiter as if enacting the bravado of Vin Diesel pitching a client in Boiler Rooms, boldly declared there was nothing unpopular on his menu.

The “reccy” of the tandoori chicken platter was a classic pump and dump strategy by the insiders of the kitchen. 3 pilfering pieces of chicken were served on a board. It tasted like thigh meat and the meat was of a darker hue, suggestive of inferior quality poultry. We were fleeced on this one.

The tandoori prawns were a a damp squib of dish: chewy, tasteless and most likely dug out from the bottom of a freezer. The lamb seekh kebabs were an improvement and a generous serving was enough to leave room for only one main course: butter paneer. The sub-par non vegetarian selection was not evinced given the frugality of the paneer in the dish and a sauce that missed the delightful creaminess of an excellent butter paneer

The venue at the bottom of The Executive Enclave is the sort of place people feel the need to dress up for. There was a young gent at the entrance sporting a velvet blazer two sizes too small (“tight is right” I hear you retort). The interior is cute, but thankfully not in a “try hard” or kitsch way. The tables are also sufficiently spaced so as to avoid the intimate details or bowel movements of the couple adjacent.

Abstract nouns like authenticity, genuineness are a long way from the lexical field for Veranda. Instead Veranda I would argue is a new age bastion of pretence, vacuity and doubtful culinary ability.

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