Smoke House Deli reminds us of one thing and one thing only – walls with refreshing calligraphy and a love for wholesome food. Many will agree that its signature white, cool interiors dating to pre-Instagram times have seen many a chic and buzzing gatherings. Now the team at Impressario, who have given us stellar (and memorable) places including Salt Water Cafe, Mocha, and Social, have rewound to that moment and thrown open the doors to Smoke House Deli that’s going to fit the Instagram era beautifully. The Deli at Phoenix Mills, Mumbai, is revamped, and features a curated wine list alongside old favourites.
But first, the decor must be applauded. The elegant white walls feature artworks that are purely culinary inspired – quirky, hand-drawn illustrations by artist Priya Dali showcase everything the new Smoke House Deli stands for – fresh, seasonal, local produce, and the wholesomeness of farm to fork. Federico Fratarnale, the artistic brain behind the design agency Restore, who has worked on these interiors, calls it a perfect example of purity of purpose and simplicity of thought. The lighting is warm, and the inspiratory motif of 2.0, “The cat’s finally out of the bag”, finds expression everywhere – there are tiny feline statues placed all over.
Not surprisingly, this idea of purity and simplicity trickles down to a pared-down, effortless menu in the newest version. There’s some Asian fare, a sprinkling of healthy, and a whole lot of food from Delhi with meats and whatnot. If you’re ever stuck with friends or family who cannot agree on where / what to eat, head to Smoke House Deli.
There is however a definite tilt towards the healthier. Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD of Impresario Handmade Restaurants, insists that this time this visually stimulating destination is a mindful champion of healthy, organic cuisine alongside its older, much-loved dishes. Grilled Chilli Crusted John Dory and the Baconator Burger were my favourites and this time around they rub shoulders with vegan, gluten-free, and keto-friendly options. That means free range organic eggs, signature thin crust pizzas, handmade pastas, single estate cold brews, fresh fruit salad bowls, and tried and tested sandwiches – a new world that suits our busy lives.
I started off with a crisp Peri Peri Grilled Chicken Pizza, which was light and ideal as the first order. It was then the turn of Grilled Prawns in Butter Garlic Chili and a Spanish Omelette – both starters offered a unique taste and twist to the conventional small plate serve. I’d only wish that the prawns were a bit warm considering that they were already cold by the time they reached the table. Next up, Crispy Panko Chicken Tenders, which in my opinion, is set to be the favourite for lunch-goers. I then tried the Fiery BBQ Chicken Wings, classic SHD style wings with a zing of spice and tenderness of chicken, just the way it should be. Again, another perfect, comfort dish that one gravitates towards. And that right there is Smoke House Deli’s draw – it offers a certain kind of homegrown, home-made food that is comforting especially when you stop by on a working lunch.
For the main course, I wanted to test SHD on how tenderly they cook their meat, so I ordered a plate of Wild-Caught Grilled Tiger Prawns. Being a larger prawn, it was cooked well and stayed impressively tender (sometimes size can change the flavour). I finished off with a Baked Berry Cheesecake and a Dark Matter Crème Brulee – both staples with a good fan-following in their earlier avatars. The cheesecake was sponge-y, while the Crème Brulee was a burst of sweetness after a nostalgic meal – definitely a winner. We also heard that the new menu includes flavourful artisanal ice cream in all popular flavours, something I plan to try the next time I visit.
Smoke House Deli’s menu is quite large and it caters to a wide range of different tastes. And it’s this variety that really grabs you. And now with an impressive wine list and a pret bar to accompany it, it’s only a matter of time that it attains cult status as a whimsy destination for comfort food lovers once again.
Where: Phoenix Mill Compound, High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Contact: 022 2493 3222; +91 8879 651172
Opening Hours: 9:30 am to 12:30 am, all days
Recommended dishes: Grilled Chilli Crusted John Dory and Grilled Prawns
Price: Rs 2,500 for two people (approx.), exclusive of taxes
Noise Level: Moderate
All images: Courtesy Smoke House Deli