Food

Mumbai’s slice of Paris

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Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît promises uncompromising French classics with delicious cocktails

One step into Churchgate’s latest gastronomical addition, Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît, and we’re reminded of how constant change is. The same spot used to be Mocha (also owned by Riyaaz Amlani), while we were in college, and later at the woody Salt Water Café. Kamling, which used to be next door is now Foo, a buzzing new property by the Tham brothers.

Tipple tickles

For co-owners Nick Harrison and chef Alexis Gielbaum, Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît’s location — surrounded by iconic Art Deco buildings and a stone’s throw away from the sea — was love at first sight. “The outdoor seating area is right next to a footpath and reminded us of the street side cafés in Paris. There are hardly any other places in Mumbai who are privileged to have this kind of a set-up,” says Harrison. And while everything on the menu is authentically French, Harrison has made an exception with the cocktail offering, case in point, the Frozen Jackfruit Margarita (₹590). “We are a French bistro, but we are also in the tropics. And keeping the city’s humidity and heat in mind, I have included icy, frozen cocktails, which can be had in the afternoon too,” says Harrison adding that the place has been designed such that you can see the street even when you sit at the bar.

Other icy cocktails include Frozé All Day (₹650) made with Rosé, Aperol, strawberry, honey and lime. The bar menu also includes certain reworked classics (Kaffir Mule, Lavender Pisco Sour, Jager Negroni) and wine cocktails. Harrison and Gielbaum first met each other while working at different hospitality properties in Delhi and had always wanted to open a relaxed authentic French restaurant. “But when Riyaaz saw the location of Slink and Bardot [their flagship Worli establishment], he felt it works for a bar and lounge more, hence we ended opening Slink first,” says Harrison. Plush upholstered booths, vintage lights sourced from Chor Bazaar, a huge still of Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg from Bonnie and Clyde at the bar give the restaurant a chic old-Bombay vibe.

French fare

While Harrison had a fun time with the drinks, Gielbaum has deliberately stuck to French classics for the food – onion soup, coq au vin, ratatouille and boeuf bourguignon. And since the perfect, airy soufflé (which means breath in French) is so hard to find in the city, the owners decided to name the restaurant after the dish and dedicate a section to it. The motif of a cherub blowing a kiss is seen on the cutlery, and even as a sculpture as a play on the name. While the dishes might be 100 per cent French, Gielbaum has tried to keep his food inventory as local as possible. “We were conscious of keeping the pricing right and that can only be done when you source locally,” explains Gielbaum adding that they source black rice from the North East, cacao from Auroville, brie from the city, and kadaknath chicken for the coq au vin. “But the recipes are completely authentic, which was not easy to execute as local ingredients have different flavours, but there’s no compromise on that,” he says. The menu also has a good balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and certain dishes can also be customised to Jain versions. So while vegetarians can try the twice-baked Fromage Bleu blue cheese soufflé (₹350), non-vegetarians could pick Le Henri IV (₹420), a chicken and mushroom soufflé. A dish that Gielbaum seems to have had the most fun with is Carottes (₹420), where the chef presents carrots cooked in different ways, from cured to dehydrated, with carrot pesto. An appetiser that would work well with drinks is Pissaladière (₹380), topped with sautéed onions, red peppers, arugula and olives. And if you are looking for the perfect winter warmer, try the Soupe à L’Onion Gratinée (₹380, can be made veg too), a rich classic French onion soup with a luxuriously velvety texture that’s developed by simmering it for 12 hours, topped with croutons and Himalayan Gruyère.

One thing you cannot miss is the Homard Thermidor (₹1,400), a classic French lobster dish where the delicate meat is enhanced by a silken cognac mornay sauce and Champagne sabayon. Leave room for dessert, as in addition to sweet soufflé, there is Crème Caramel (₹280), Baba au Rhum (₹420, with pistachio buttercream and vanilla Chantilly), and Rocher Chocolat (₹420).

Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît; noon to 1 a.m.; Churchgate; phone: 8657512648

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:32:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/mumbais-slice-of-paris/article30404849.ece

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