When Tuesday nights begin to feel like Friday, it is a sign of a job well done.
There is a different kind of buzz in the back lanes of Worli, which, for quite some time, have lacked a space to match the allure of its coastline. Slink and Bardot, Mumbai’s first fine-dining French cuisine restaurant, slips perfectly into that spot. The tasteful interiors, bathed in a calming shade of turquoise, at once create an atmosphere for a languid, sensual meal that comes from a marriage of fine ingredients with fresh produce, and of course the French touch.
Co-founders Nick Harrison and Chef De Cuisine Alexis Gielbaum are the perfect hosts, their love for French cuisine is matched by an understanding of the Indian passion for honest food. When it comes to food, we’re much like the French—food for us is an experience, with the flavours and delicate techniques passed down generations, still rooting us in faraway lands that we belong to. At the heart of our love for food are memories and sublime cultural influences—of mother cooking with fresh ingredients, of families eating together, of our unhurried ways and love for the basics—crucial insights the duo gathered during their tenure at Delhi’s French cafe, Le Bistro du Parc. So when chef Alexis mentions that they “want to break down the idea of French food as being elitist,” so people can pile the dishes on the table, savouring the flavours and conversations without bothering about the hierarchy of courses, we know we’re in a for a good time.
Located at Thadani House, a quaint bunglow that stands defiantly close to the Worli coastline, Slink and Bardot is wrapped in a pastel green exterior that piques your curiosity, but leaves you unprepared for the sensory overload of its interiors. Old-fashioned botanical motifs are interwoven with contemporary patterns to create a charming design tapestry, a theme that blends delicately into the little niches in the dining rooms, and just as effortlessly in the casual, laidback lounge area. Designed by Pavitra Rajaram, the head of visual merchandising at Good Earth, the interiors are at once relaxing and chic, creating a mood that prepares you for a fine dining experience that lies ahead.
Every kind of cuisine has found its spot in Mumbai’s spirited food scene, barring French cuisine, which hasn’t covered much ground here. Apart from a few popular items that share space with Italian and other European dishes, French food has largely stayed off the menus. Our search for a Charcuterie for instance, ran into a void. So when we spotted the Charcuterie at Slink and Bardot, we promptly added it to our must-order list. We realised too, as the dishes arrived, that the pocket-friendly prices come with the assurance that the plates will be bite-sized.
No matter how old we get, we all carry a primal desire for French Fries (INR140), an offbeat choice at a French restaurant given that they were invented in neighbouring Belgium. Nevertheless, the soft, comforting potato wedges arrived piping hot, with dips that melt on the tongue, while we awaited our main nibbles. The Provencale Vegetable and Goat Cheese Terrine which arrived next combines the fresh texture of goat cheese with flavours of sundried tomatoes, avocado and basil, encased in zucchini spaghetti. It’s an easy choice for vegetarians, and heightens the expectation for the next course.
The charcuterie (INR 310) is a picnic dish comprising bread and meat that I had last had at a charming village called Sete on the French Riviera. Slink and Bardot retains the essence of a traditional picnic board lunch, even though some of the meat was too chewy and the bread a little too ruddy. The slight disappointment of the Charcuterie vanished as soon as we tasted the Chicken Liver Parfait (INR 280) with its smooth texture elevated by the use of an inspired carrot and apricot chutney and a cocoa nib jam. Definitely the star of the menu in our opinion.
The Tomato and Mozzarella Tart (INR 280) looked like a dream but the combination of tomato and sautéed spinach and olive oil ice cream was still too tangy to enjoy. The tart was offset by another classic French dish, Brie en Croute (INR 280) with delicate layers of filo pastry drizzled with lavender honey, encasing rich brie, that we wished we could eat forever. The Buffalo Cheek Bourguignon (INR 480), on the other hand, was too chewy for us and the Belgian Pork Belly (INR 340) was good without being exceptional in any way. If fish is your preferred protein, the Steamed Rose Snapper is a good choice, it comes with a side of zucchini spaghetti, truffled dijons, Pastis, an anise flavoured spirit, and fennel sauce. Alexis makes it a point to mention that all the ingredients, except some of the cheeses, are locally sourced, and the fresh-flavoured fish bears testimony to that.
It was time to wrap up the meal with a dessert, and the Balsamic Glazed Pineapple (INR 240) came highly recommended, for its interplay of sweet and sour, warm (pineapple) and cold (limoncello ice-cream). But the tartness of the fruit left us completely underwhelmed. Thankfully, the Dark Chocolate Tartelette (INR 350) rescued the dessert section for us, to some extent. It’s probably not a great idea if you’re considering going here expecting a selection of fine French desserts.
Divided into Light and Fruity and Dark and Moody, we tried a drink each from both these sections. The Sitting In An English Garden Waiting For The Sun (INR 490) with Tanqueray, lime, cucumber juice and lavender bitters was a refreshing drink that had a good and mild taste without any ingredient overpowering any other. The other drink, Barrel Aged Old Fashioned with Bourbon, Martini Russo, Maraschino and Chocolate Bitters was a great choice as well. Overall, the bar section left us feeling merry.
While Slink and Bardot floored us with some dishes which clearly emerge as the heroes of the menu, we could also spot a few weak links. The drinks were on point while the desserts were mostly a miss with us. Connoisseurs of French cuisine will undoubtedly appreciate Slink and Bardot for upping the ante, but casual diners might be left thinking of reasons that merit a repeat visit. A few smart tweaks and some wholesome desserts that redeem the French reputation for desserts, are much needed. For now, we rate Slink and Bardot 3 out of 5.
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