Bollywood Cinematographer Sachin Krishn reviews Olio, exclusively for Travel Secrets:
If you take a bite of the food served at Olio with eyes closed, and have even a vestige the right side of the brain firing, you could probably feel you are out there by the Mediterranean, sampling some juicy, authentic Italian fare, complete with a violin playing softly somewhere out there around the cobblestone bend.
Open your eyes, and the reality hits you.
No. Life is certainly not that simple.
No, a short Uber ride from home does not get you all the way to the Wonderful West just like that.
Where you are in fact, is in a bright, somehow overlit space, in the heart of amchi Mumbai.
We occupy a little table for four in one corner of the hall that looks decidedly like the set of that revolving restaurant from the super-hit Amitabh Bachchan starrer Naseeb. The Johns and Jaanis and the Janardhans walk about smartly, their oversized uniforms fluttering about them as they do so.
The John dedicated to us seems like the smartest of the lot, and in English that extracts every ounce of juice from within his deepest reserves, he diligently mouths out the well rehearsed welcome speech as he seats us at our table efficiently.
The course begins with a large white bowl with a deceptively laid out poached egg right in the middle. Then John begins to pour a thick brown liquid over the egg from a steaming hot kettle, and Crema di Fungi…the cream of wild mushroom soup…is ready to be had. Rich. Tasty. A good start.
The plane to Italy is on the runway.
Pickled water melon and arugula follows. Goat cheese, apple vinaigrette and focaccia chips, all presented artistically, in a portion ample for two.
The flight takes off.
The Burrata (burrata cheese with beetroot coulis and tomato confit), Parmigiana di melanzane (baked eggplant, mozzarella, parmesan, pomodoro sauce and basil), and the Pollo tre senape (three mustard chicken with garlic dip) follow in quick succession…and by the time the last bite of the last appetiser is savoured, the match between appetite and avarice is well and truly on.
Feeling a severe need for something to take down this invasion of well presented, extremely delicious round of starters with, we order glasses of Italian red each, and two sips down, the flavours of all that we have just had, begin registering on the little grey cells with divine clarity. Excellent food, we decide….different, distinct, delectable.
The Naseeb set has meanwhile, been invaded by a birthday party. The flight that was cruising somewhere over the Middle East, suddenly crash lands into Ahmedabad.
The aroma of the main course arrives before the food itself does.
The Risotto al funghi (risotto with wild mushroom, black truffle essence) melts in the mouth with a bombardment of a thousand flavours. Grilled salmon follows. One bite, and we are already planning our next visit here, no matter the decibel levels around.
“Is it any better if we come here a little early, around seven…?,’’ we ask our John, who has just survived a precocious ten year old bumping into him with his siblings in hot pursuit.
Almost as if to divert our attention, he serves us the dripping-with- juice Lamb chops.
The stomach says ‘Stop!’.
The tongue, ‘Never!!’
By the time the digestive juices are attacking the chops inside our bursting bellies, the Tiramisu arrives as if to signal a truce between the need and the greed, and despite the taste buds having orgasmed multiple times in the last forty minutes, they spell ‘divine’ to the brain with the first touch of the creamy Tiramisu with potent Illy coffee buried somewhere deep inside.
The flight to Italy having resumed course now at Concord altitudes, we beg for mercy from our diligent host who is fast approaching us with another dessert that we now do not even want to look at. But once again, we are powerless to resist!
The Uber ride back home is quiet for both of us.
Don’t know about her, but the one question dancing around in my brain is, “Man, where did the flight eventually land?”
Somehwere midway between Mumbai and Rome, perhaps…where aural and visual senses keep you grounded, but the taste buds transport you straight to the Mediterranean.
Maybe that place, in a nutshell then, is Olio.