Fratelli Fresh – The Renaissance (Powai, Mumbai)

There was one famous person (I forget his name) who said he judged restaurants exclusively on the quality of the bread and coffee. In that case, why did Fratelli Fresh think it acceptable to serve out some stale, cardboard-like, polenta sprinkled ciabatta at the start of the meal? I’m talking bread so dry that drowning a mere morsel in the small rammekin of olive oil was not enough to salavage even a minor glimmer of hope. The other bread – foccacia – whilst not as dry, still had a rather crisp (read stale) exterior as if it had been re-heated under a grill.
It’s not as if bread is expensive either: flour, salt, water and yeast in its most basic form. My ultimatum to restaurants across the land would be: employ a decent in-house baker/reliable external supplier or else serve no bread at all! In this day and age to be eating worse bread than our ancestors did over 2000 years ago is a crime!

If you can imagine for a moment, you had just returned from holiday, a family of around 8 turnup at your doorstep and you are expected to host them for a nice dinner. At which point, you frantically start scouring through your cupboards for food! Well…that’s how the whole experience at Fratelli Fresh felt. If we start in reverse with the cheese board, which for some reason they had to haul the chef out of his labyrnth to merely understand the request

“The cheese, fromage, cheese plate, cheese platter, Sir, selection of cheeses”

“You mean Panna Cotta?”

“No, arghhh. CHEEEESE”.

It was billed as having “onion” chutney alongside a selection of “Italian” cheeses. However upon arrival the onion chutney has been substituted for some offensive strawberry jam. Moreover, 2 out of the 4 cheeses are not even Italian: Danish Blue and Red Cheddar! Needless to mention a cracker biscuit broken into two was the entirety of biscuit selection.

The main courses presented another risibly unique discussion. From the main dishes, the waiter literally pleaded me with me NOT to have the “peperonata”. “No one likes this”, “it’s not good” he added. If that’s the case, why hasn’t it been taken off the menu? Given that the Zucchini Involtini was unavailable, I was left with one veg main course: the aubergine parmigiana. The aubergine parmigiana was 3 slices of grilled aubergine, a swoosh of tomato ragu and some cheese melted on top. It wasn’t unpleasant, but that’s not aubergine parmigiania or what you would expect for over 1000 INR. The portion size of the tagliatelle alfredo was better, but I’m not sure how anyone could bear wading through the play-doh like tagliatelle (the Brunette left half of the dish FYI). Perhaps a grating of parmesan might have been a nice gesture too? Or was that also banished in an effort by some miserly manager to keep costs down.

The Porcini soup was a grey, gritty mess – another act of shameful duplicity from the restaurant. Where were the “porcini chunks” that the menu talked about? Their very absence made me also doubt the presence of truffle oil, I certainly couldn’t taste or see any of it. The burrata was, perhaps, the only dish I could tolerate of the evening. The service was slow, inattentive and I think the fact I was asked if I wanted the bill after already ordering the cheese course, was testiment to the poorly run, confused state of hospitality at Renaissance.

Amongst the five star hotel chains in India, there are only a few who seem to truly understand European food and fine-dine hospitality.. It’s high time that such a respectable chain of hotels like Renaissance re-thought its continental cuisine in India, because if this was any reflection of the whole, it was a dismal and downright deceitful affair.

The whole experience at Fratelli Fresh was akin to the times where as a host you have a family of 10 turnup unannounced on your door step and in panic mode, start scavenging through your cupboards for something to cook!

No thanks…

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