In the bright firmament of the restaurant scene in our city, there’s a brand new star and that is Smoke House Room. It sounds like a cliché to claim that it is a never seen before concept, but that really is the case. It is a small dining room – a 40 seater to be exact. The rest of the area is a cocktail bar. Smoke House Room exults in its degustation menus of which there are three: vegetarian, non-vegetarian menu containing no pork and the third containing all kinds of meats.
The dreamy all-white interiors are a neutral setting for what is on the plate. And that in turn is determined by what the chef has created. There are chef-focused restaurants in many parts of the world – in Asia, there are Sam Leong and Tetsuya. In India, Smoke House Room is the first of this kind. Chef Gresham Fernandes, one of the most talented young chefs in the country today, makes the extremely complex menus and cooks all stages of them with a small band of assistants. Exactly as it would happen in any international dining destination.
The vegetarian degustation menu, The Gatherer costs s 2,500, The Hunter which contains no pork is Rs 3,500 and the spectacular treat Smoke House Room Grand degustation that contains scallops, Angus, Foie Gras, black cod, mussels and much else besides, is priced at Rs 7,000. There is an adequate a la carte menu for those who cannot imagine themselves going through nine courses, but don’t expect to be able to sample the amuse bouches that are served to those opting for the degustation menus. I was served a potato and leek soup in a glass. Half the glass had cold soup and the other half had hot soup. Every sip would bring a clever juxtaposition of temperatures. That typifies the quirkiness of this restaurant.
In this day and age of television dinners, sms-ing while at table and driving to work with a coffee and a paratha in your car, it comes as a test of sheer concentration to appreciate the finer points of the dinner. My seared scallop with coconut and passion fruit ‘egg’ with tapioca and curried apple had several elements. The scallop was cooked so that the outside was seared lightly yet the inside was like melting butter. Paired with passion fruit gelee around which had been poured coconut cream atop miniscule beads of apple, the dish was perfection itself, but I have to say that it is best appreciated when you are concentrating on the food prepared by the chef and the wine that is paired by the in-house sommelier, Davide Zubani, whose approach to pairing is diametrically opposed to conventional wisdom.
My Grand degustation contained a wealth of tiny, perfectly plated dishes. It is beyond the scope of this space to describe them all, but the one that stands out in my mind is the gathering of mushrooms. Eight types of mushrooms: enoki, shemiji, porcini, wood ear, white fungus, shiitake, button and devil’s trumpet were arranged beautifully on a dish. Three types of butters were the accompaniment. And lest you couldn’t pick up each type with a fork, you are provided with a pair of pincers.
In short, it is brilliant and irreverent. And that is what keeps it from becoming pretentious.
3rd floor, Crescent at the Qutab, Lado Sarai
Tel: 29523737, 29523838, 8800777074
Open from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm to 12 midnight
Alcohol served; credit cards accepted
Meal for two: Rs 8,000 +