August 13, 2016 12:00:39 am
The Shamiana, in its new avatar, is a sight to behold. Gone is the stifling, low-hanging canvas that had been this Taj Palace restaurant’s take on the shamiana. Now, simple ceiling drapes in white and a modern colour palette of cream and wood-brown give an impression of a lot more space.
On the wall across from where we sat were framed photographs of memorable guests that have visited the restaurant since its opening in 1973. But there’s no need to feel intimidated by the restaurant’s iconic status — Taj has striven to make this newly imagined Shamiana much more approachable with its décor, a menu of favourites, and prices that are almost half than before. The food, however, remains as good.
There are now weekend brunches, a daily blackboard of dishes curated by Italian Chef Roberto Collini, and a live chocolate and pastry making counter. On the a la carte menu, two things stand out: “Via Bombay” regional bites section that includes the much-loved Keema Pav, Prawn Patio and Pav Bhaji, and a “Taj Autograph” selection of signature dishes from around the world such as the Chicken Bunny Chow from Taj Cape Town.
We began our lunch with the the Flowerpot Four-Dough Bread, which merges four types of bread into one chewy, freshly baked composition. Next came the spicy Glazed Nachos with jalapeno peppers, melted cheese, and refried beans. This was a classic comfort food from a menu that also includes Mac and Cheese and Khichdi.
For our main course, we had the fairly ordinary, but massive Vegetable and Herb Burger, that came with caramelised onions, lettuce hearts, gherkins, sliced red onion and burger sauce. The Roast Chicken Basket, served with steak fries, was more enjoyable.
Among the desserts, the Baked Almond Cake, with crunchy honey ice-cream and almond milk sauce, was so good that we could return just for it. Another favourite was the light and delicious V.S.O.P Chocolate Mousse, a classic baked madeleine with candied orange rind.
The Super Sundae fell a bit flat. It was presented in a red plastic box, supposedly to exude an “original” feel, but just ended up looking tacky and tasting ordinary.
Although open 24 hours, Shamiana would probably be best enjoyed during breakfast or brunch, or for a quick day-time snack. Its welcoming ambience has a lot to do with daylight that streams in and the breeze blowing in from the sea.
Address: Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Apollo Bunder, Mumbai
Meal for two: Rs 2,500 (excluding drinks, including taxes)
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