Impresario restaurants have managed to be in my favourite picks around the city for a long time. If its a casual meeting, Mocha Mojo’s wholewheat bagels and shakes. If I need a comfortable environment near work to have an intimate meeting or to work on some writing, it had to be The Tasting Room’s rustic wooden bench & table. And if I had to breakfast in Bandra, I’d head straight to Salt Water Cafe. Because of health issues and general time constraints, I hadn’t sampled their latest offering Smoke House Deli. And with a housefull film show that threw our evening off, we ventured into SHD coyly (we were dressed like village idiots) and prayed that there be a table for two. With a smile, we were led to our table.
First thing you notice is that the tables are spaced out and comfortable. So you get the buzz of being in a deli without really overhearing the breakup story from the table behind you or the sweet nothings from a table next to you. The clean white, red and black decor makes you feel comfortable and cosy.
Somethings on the menu make you feel like you’re coming home. The buttermilk apple muffin, for example, is my favourite comfort food on a rainy afternoon in Bandra (SWC, of course). The breakfast all day looks appealing but I wasn’t about to embarrass myself or the fiance with a demand for pancakes or french toast at 9pm. So, we got ourselves the Panco Chicken Strips for an appetizer and followed it up with a Chicken and Asparagus Salad which is a house specialty.
The better half wanted to eat some roast chicken but because he didn’t fancy the bones and skin version (we were informed as we placed an order), he went for the Peri Peri Chicken. “You can swap the mash for the wedges if you’d like,” our steward offered. This is what makes a huge difference. The steward was well-informed, was warm, intuitive and yet non-intrusive. The unfortunate thing about our dinner dates is that we can’t over order. He hates wasting food and I hate over-eating.
I got myself the regular Sula Zinfandel Blush (Wine lovers might frown, but I just love this wine, especially with a salad!) and for the want of experimentation, the better half chose an Orange Caprioska. The Panco chicken came with a lovely pepper-mayo on the side and though it was decadent (oh hello, calories burnt with a 7km run!) the chicken was every bit worth the fat content – crisp on the outside, soft, succulent inside. The Asparagus Salad, was more of a lettuce salad with the leaves outnumbering the spears by a vast majority. The tangy-sweetish dressing was perfect to go with the smoked chicken breast and the toasted walnuts gave the salad a great punch. The portion size was huge. I struggled to finish my salad (and mind you, I have a healthy appetite). The conversation on our table fell flat as we ate our mains.
With sounds of forks and knives clashing with the plates replacing those of giggles and talk about which movies we must catch up on, it was safe to say the food was good. Of course, I wanted to try some desserts, but there was absolutely no way I could eat another morsel. With a sigh, we called for the check and resolved to come back soon for the flourless tortes.
As we walked out of the busy deli, into the courtyard of High Street Phoenix, I really did wonder why we hadn’t come here sooner. Firstly, getting into Phoenix especially on weekends is a tedious business, what with a traffic jam that needs a 15-20 minute joyride up and down the slopes of the parking lot. Secondly, every single time we struggled to eat some place nice, the Deli was booked up and we weren’t patient enough to give in to the 45-minute wait for a table. Eating at Phoenix is a fun thing to do, but it is meant to be an impromptu meal. So you put your name down for a table and then go window shopping to work up an appetite. But Smoke House Deli is a place where you go with friends, on a meal-date which has to be pre-planned. And the prospect of rolling up and down the mall’s multi-storey parking lot just works against it. Parking issues aside, it was a lovely experience and I will go back!
Smoke House Deli is in High Street Phoenix.
A meal for two, with two drinks set us back by around Rs2900/-