ANURAG MALLICK & PRIYA GANAPATHY try out the innovative Indian flavours of Peninsula Restaurant at Saki Naka in the less-explored side of Andheri
Remember picking up an album, book or DVD you knew nothing about and discovering it to be a real find? Peninsula is that sort of place. We didn’t know what to expect as we climbed to the first floor restaurant. A tall stone deepastambha (pillar lamp) framed a traditional ornate door. Subtle mauve and lavender tones contrasted the creamy walls adorned with mirrors and antique brass curios of betel nutcrackers and quaint combs.
We settle down under a beautiful chandelier and take a cursory look at the extensive menu. One could really go on a binge here. Thankfully, they give us a tablet before the meal (a digital menu on a tablet)! But before we get too busy with status updates on FB, the signature drink Peninsula Colada arrives, a smoothie served straight in a whole pineapple shell! One sip, and we are teleported to the Caribbean isles.
In the past few decades Peninsula had made quite a name for itself. The first restaurant was started in 1989 by the Shettys, originally from Mangalore who resettled in Mumbai. The excellent fare was so much in demand the owners had to open two more eateries in Sion. Eventually, a full-fledged hotel was started in Saki Naka and the popularity of the Peninsula brand led to the recent rebranding of their Indian fine dining eatery to a multi-cuisine restaurant!
The Colada gave way to Cranberry Delight, the perfect accompaniment to the complimentary starter of Chinese Bhel – a Sino-Indian snack of fried noodle, spicy masala and Chinese sauces served in a noodle basket. Such innovation and definitive presentation had become Peninsula’s hallmark – like Sangam kebab, mutton seekh wrapped in chicken and Naram dil kebab, mashed cottage cheese coated with cornflakes and deep-fried.
Buddha dumplings, a dimsum with Chinese glass noodles, shitake mushroom, button mushroom and babycorn. Chef Crystal Mendonca explained the nuances of each dish. We opted for Paneer Salt n Pepper and Kadak Masala Roomali, a massive roomali masquerading as a wok-shaped masala papad. The crispy roasted base was a brilliant touch, as papads tend to get soggy!
We were barely halfway through it when out came the Mix Non-veg Platter – a tantalizing assortment of Murgh Reshmi Kebab, Murgh Tikka, Nizami Sheekh kebab, Tandoori Prawn and Tandoori Fish. Seafood buffs can enjoy a coastal spread stretching from Mangalore to Mumbai, with Machhli Sarson tikka, Tandoori jal pari (spiced pomfret) or Goan Fish Curry.
For the main course, we went for Kundan Kaliya, a spicy mutton gravy, Dal Bukara and Sabzi Dobara, a veg combo in red and green gravies, perfect with Cheese Garlic Naan and Reshmi Paratha, a delicious cross between a lachcha and a roomali! Clearly vegetarians won’t feel out of place as Peninsula has a separate kitchen for its Gujarati and pure veg customers.
At the pretext of checking out the private dining area with low seating and plump cushions, we managed a catnap, before drifting into visions of dreamy deserts. Gulabjamuns on a bed of boondi swamped in rabdi baked brown to perfection, with a generous sprinkling of dry fruits. Except, we weren’t dreaming. Madhur Milan, an amazing amalgam of rich flavours was so sinfully good it ought to be illegal!
Peninsula regularly hosts food festivals. So far, patrons have been treated to Mexican, Awadhi, Punjabi, Biryanis and various theme feasts. Their Independence Day special offered a tricolour buffet while Onam sadya was infused with Syrian Christian & Moplah cuisine, dressed with vegetable carving of Kathakali faces, served by stewards in mundu and white shirt!
The verdict? We were definitely returning for a rejuvenating weekend getaway – unlimited beverages and multi-cuisine buffet, with choice of one treatment at the spa/salon. All for Rs.1,111. After all, the best part about making a serendipitous discovery is doing it at a bargain!
Peninsula Grand Hotel, Sakinaka, Andheri (E), Mumbai – 400072
Phone: 022 28519191, 66249100
Cuisine – Delicious Indian, Asian and Continental fare with a creative touch
Cost – Meal for two Rs.1500 without alcohol
Wheelchair Access – No
Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This article appeared in the December 2012 issue of India Today’s Travel Plus magazine.