With fresh catch readily available, thanks to Mumbai’s proximity to the sea, there are a few restaurants in the city that have managed to constantly provide great seafood options for experimenting locals. In keeping with this, Toast & Tonic, the renowned New York East Village-style restaurant and bar co-owned by restaurateur Chetan Rampal and chef Manu Chandra (of popular restaurants like Monkey Bar and The Fatty Bao) has now unveiled their own seafood festival, ‘Fresh Off the Boat’. The restaurant is already popular for their house-cured chorizo and clams, and the 10-dish festival menu is a welcome addition, jam-packed with food inspired by ports around the world. On through the month of March, there is talk of it extending to April as well.
Created by Chef Chirag Makwana, the festival finds inspiration in the shores of Italy, France, Sweden, Peru, and Japan, and recreating the most popular dishes of the land with a clear Indian insight makes this menu stand out. Indian ingredients like Bhavnagari chillies and kalonji are used liberally to herald a new idea. We’ve picked out five of our favourites that really epitomise the vision, give or take an oyster.
The T&T Seabass Ceviche, a Peruvian delicacy, is raw seafood cured in citrus juices and local seasoning – we were impressed by the attention to detail here. The kokum coconut sauce added a gentle flavour and was topped with fried onions. The charred Bhavnagari chilli salsa alongside the sorghum crackers added a punch to the dish.
The Lobster Roll is a sandwich native to Maine and is a popular snack, but this time around, it was reinvented with a Naga chilli aioli, sweet potato chips, and purple cabbage slaw to infuse a more local flavour into it. The aioli was pungent, spicy, and consumed by flavours.
The all-time favourite Frito Misto from Italy was easily the most favoured dish because it was a crunchy addition to the meal – who doesn’t love batter-fried seafood? The snack is served with house-made mustards and tomato sofrito. The flavour was most delicate.
The best bit on the menu was the original Oysters Rockefeller, created at a well-known New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s in 1899. The decadent oysters are baked in their shells, with a mixture of finely chopped greens and copious amounts of butter. Here, the players are local greens, amaranth leaves, and a gin hollandaise, which added a spritz of Indian-ness without compromising on the original flavors.
Our favourite dish on the menu was the Grilled Tiger Prawns, served with tomato butter, pearl millet risotto, and smoked fish croquettes. Sublime and spicy, this dish was like comfort food to warm up our day. The flavour-infused prawns fit in perfectly with the grainy millet that is soaked in seafood spicy sauce.
Other menu also includes Kalonji Crusted Seared Tuna with pickled fennel, avocado, roasted beet gel, and Gondhoraj lemon; freshly Shucked Oysters served with a cucumber and grapefruit mignonette; and delicious Cold Ramen (Hiyashi Chuka) with Bangalore ham, shrimp, house-made sambal, fermented radish and a soy, ginger and scallion broth. We found that the French classic of fish wrapped in parchment with aromatics is the inspiration behind the Red Mullet en Papillote, served here with sautéed amaranth, squash puree, braised red cabbage and sun-dried tomato and raisin pesto. The Salmon Gravalax on the other hand is cured with spices like coriander seeds and caraway seeds, and paired with mustard hollandaise, avocado, smoked tomato sofrito, and is served on sourdough toast.
A word on the drinks on offer: Pick from a range of gin combinations – floral, fruity, spicy and herb-infused – that you can pair with everything from Beefeater to Botanist. The perfect drink to accompany seafood here is the Grass is Always Greener, which uses lemongrass, and The Herbalist, a gin, basil, and orange tonic water with coriander-orange ice. Gin-tleman’s Tonic and British Raj are other worthy contenders.
Unit#1, Ground Floor, Jet Airways-Godrej BKC Building, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra-East, Mumbai
For reservations: 022 26534722/+91 7777 049774 or book online at: www.toastandtonic.com
Fresh off the Boat Menu: Monday to Sunday 12:00 noon to 12:30 am
Price: Meal for two, including drinks, Rs 3,000 + taxes