We visited Ziya, a fine dining space at the Oberoi, as they’ve reopened their doors after an eight month hiatus. Here’s our account of the evening that showcased a great menu with social distancing and safety measures in place.
That unspoken grace and intimacy of fine dining was surely missed during the months of Covid, and every discerning Mumbaikar has been eager to re-experience that when the time’s right. Keeping up with the code of social distancing and the lockdown, most industries in the country merely lowered a gear in pace, but F&B and hospitality, understandably came to an absolute standstill. Every luxury suite and grand dining hall in the country was left vacant for months on end.
Today, as we dawn a new era of fine dining, it’s not only time for luxury restaurants to cater to their guests once again but to also be responsible for their health and safety while they dine. The Oberoi, making a renewed stride in health and safely of their guests have reopened their doors in accord with detailed and stringent measures as per WHO and Ministry of Tourism guidelines. Ziya, their brand of fine dining, is testimony of this ethos. We visited Ziya to experience their version of ‘safety-prioritized’ fine dining and try out their new A La Carte Shared Plates menu by Michelin-starred Chef Vineet Bhatia.
We saw this dedication to hygiene the moment we arrived. The valet sanitizes the outside of our car and the four wheels, so that no pollutants from the outside would piggyback on the tires and enter the premises. After handing over the car to the valet, he also sanitizes the steering wheel and gear stick, keeping it clean and ready when it’s returned to us. During this time, masks, shields and gloves are worn at all times. We also did a mandate temperature check here.
At a strict 50% capacity, it broke our heart to see a fine dining establishment like Ziya not have all their tables full. With about 20 tables, only a mere 10 were functional, keeping up with regulations. We wondered, in all the efforts of keeping us safe, what about the safety of the staff keeping us safe? We learnt from the management that every member of their working staff is a mandate resident at the hotel. On the job, they have regular temperature checks and almost everything is absolutely contactless. There was one particular detail that caught our attention in our conversation with the management, that was a simple expression of their dedication to safety – One of the staff members needed to visit his family just for a day. And upon his return, he had a 14-day quarantine and periodic tests done to ensure he’s ready and safe to rejoin service. Stringent yet definitely a standard of safety we can appreciate.
Let’s move on to the new menu at Ziya, the Oberoi. The A La Carte Shared Plates menu by Michelin-starred Chef Vineet Bhatia has been divided into three sections – Earth (Veg), Land (Non-Veg) and Sea (Fish). More so, they’ve also introduced QR code accessible menus and a spread of immunity-boosting, farm-fresh ingredients in their dishes.
We started off with Malai-chilli Broccoli Florets Red Pepper Cubes. Let’s be honest, broccoli hasn’t always been my favourite vegetable from the bunch, but the play of spices by the chefs at Ziya, certainly made for a light and great appetizer. Accompanying that was a plate of Charcoal Prawns, Pindi Hummus and Chilli Chutney. What’s interesting is that the charcoal wrap around the prawns adds a nice crunch to it on the outside, while the inside remains tender and delicately cooked. Although, the burst of flavor comes from the chilli chutney, don’t miss out on that.
Next up was some Malai-Kashmiri Chilli Lobster, Rosemary-tomato Pijja and a Lamb Galauti, Kheema Kulcha. Both extremely rich in ingredients, be warned. The lobster was undoubtedly tenderly cooked and had a delicate chilli flavor to it. You may get an aftertaste of the rosemary-tomato pijja though, for which you may need a glass of wine close incase you need to clean your palette. On the other hand, the Lamb Galauti was an absolute treat. It was minced well and the tangy-yet-subtle taste of spice was great.
Our final dish, the Rajasthani Lamb Chops, Dill Gatta. The two medium-sized chops were garnished very well and provided a nice taste to the meat as well. However, I prefer it well-done, so this wasn’t at the top of my list. We finished off with a Dates-Chai Pudding, Cardamom Ice cream, ‘Biskoot’ Wedge’. A welcome change from the kulfis on the menu. The ice cream was in the shape of a puzzle piece and rested over the date-chai pudding, it was certainly cute-looking and tasty at the same time.
Oberoi, as a brand, has always prioritized safety. More so, the commitment of safety, isn’t only towards their guests, but also their staff, which is something we appreciated. I believe their new service can give you that peace of mind that you’re safe to dine outside your home with social distancing in place. Their menu was well constructed yet simple, it was a perfect mix of easy dining and bold flavours.
Timings: Friday, Saturday and Sunday for dinner service from 7pm to 11:30pm.
Address: The Oberoi, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021.
Price: Rs 7,000 for two.
All images: Courtesy brand & Mikhail Gomes