The wait has been long. The drinks, food and ambience at Toast & Tonic have gained cult status in Bengaluru and food aficionados in Mumbai were getting impatient.
Chef Manu Chandra has been lauded for being a chef par excellence with his ingenuity and even more so with local produce. Millets, Bengal’s gondhoraj lemons, nolen gur, gobindobhog rice, freshly pressed mustard oil and hot chilies from Nagaland gain favour in his list of ingredients. Chandra has a soft spot for food from the North East and ‘loves’ bamboo shoot because he believes it has a distinct umami.
Yes, we were waiting and most would even brave the impending Mumbai monsoons as Toast & Tonic opens in BKC today.
We will share with you the highlights of the meal from the preview:
Home-made shrubs aka flavours for their drinks and Ms. Rose & Col. Cucumber
Served in plump wine glasses with fruits, spices or herb infused ice-cubes, it has never been more fashionable to sip on gin and tonic. Gin and their in-house flavoured tonic comes with options - The Herbalist (gin, basil and orange tonic water, served with coriander-orange ice), Gin-tleman’s Tonic (gin, jasmine tea, elderflower and grapefruit tonic water, served with rose petal-cucumber ice), Ms. Rose & Col. Cucumber (gin, rose petal and cucumber tonic water, served with rose petal- cucumber ice), Monsoon Star (gin, star anise and pear tonic water, served with pear-spiced ice) and Vanillin (gin, vanilla and cinnamon tonic water, served with pear-spiced ice).
Guided by curiosity, we had a go at each and Vanillin was a clear winner. Vanilla and cinnamon is a potent combo and the aroma is enough to get you intoxicated, even when the gin does not significantly contribute.
Naga Chilli Wings
The formidably spicy Naga Chilli is a must-have ingredient in most meat dishes of Nagaland. These are your regular chicken wings but the crust is infused with Naga chilli, lending it a strong flavour. We assure you that the quantity of this ingredient was carefully controlled but you will taste and enjoy the spice.
Soft Eggs and Andouille Sausage
Homemade smoked pork sausage and soft boiled eggs served on millet flour bread slices. So comforting!
Seared Pork Belly
It's the first dish you see in this story and the glaze is seasoned with mustard. We believe that the meat was allowed to cook in its own fat which made it slightly crispy and the cabbage slaw tossed with red wine vinaigrette could be a star dish in itself.
Bajra and Ricotta Gnudi
We were told that Gnudi is like Gnocchi, except the ricotta cheese and bajra have replaced potatoes. These pillow-y dumplings were artfully served on creamed amaranth and spinach with homegrown herbs.
Soft Shell Crab
Oh, the sauce! A Singapore-style sauce with mild flavours of coconut, peanut and chili. Paired with sesame crusted mantous, the idea is to dunk the bread till it fully absorbs the sauce, break a piece of crab meat and eat till you crave the next mouthful. It's perfectly legit to forget your table manners for a dish as good as this.
Caccio e peppe
Translated as cheese and pepper, we were told that this is a variation of Aglio E Olio. We were quick to predict that it might not be as exciting and would miss the drama of its trendy contemporaries. We could not have been further from the truth for that was the champion dish of the evening and deserves repeat orders. The non-vegetarians on the table briefly forgot about their food as they surrendered to Caccio e Peppe. (Think, the iconic scene from Ratatouille where the critic is transported to his mother's kitchen). What's the secret ingredient? Mustard oil instead of olive oil!
Expression of Jaggery
Toast & Tonic's signature dessert is the jaggery infused pot du crème with broken pieces of banana-jaggery bread, drops of jaggery syrup accompanied by coffee cardamom ice cream. The sweet spot is that the mishti-doi-esq flavour of the pudding is perfectly offset by the ice-cream. The other dessert, simply called Brownie, was moist, rich in chocolate and was polished off in minutes.
The elegant styling and contrasting flavours will please and surprise you to start a conversation about food over an unforgettable meal experience.
Address: Unit 1, Ground Floor, Jet Airways, Godrej Building, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai
Price: INR 3,000 plus taxes for two including a drink each
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