September 2013 archive

3 of the World’s Most Unique and Luxurious Dining Experiences

3 of the World’s Most Unique and Luxurious Dining Expeirence

People don’t choose to eat at high-end restaurants for a simple, traditional experience — they want to be impressed, awed, and transported. There are now countless restaurants across the world whose haute-cuisine chefs prepare culinary delights that would please the palette of any choosy gourmand. But what elevates a restaurant experience beyond an enjoyable meal to an unforgettable event? To really make a mark on the international dining scene today, restauranteurs are coming up with new and innovative concepts for restaurants -interesting aesthetics, locations, and philosophies that challenge the status quo of fine dining. These restaurants offer diners unrivaled experience in both cuisine and luxury; read below to find out more about 3 of them.

1. Dum Pukht – Mumbai

Diners at the ITC Maratha in Mumbai can experience a journey to the past in Dum Pukht – an award-winning restaurant that celebrates traditional Indian dining of a bygone era. Dum Pukht pays homage to the slow-cooking method called “Dum”. Dum was developed in response to the ruler Awadh commissioning the construction of the Bara Imambara as an employment scheme. The cooks fed the newly employed workers rice, vegetables, meats and spices that were slow-cooked over a fire in large dough-sealed vats. This dish is the food around which chefs at Dum Pukht’s center the items on their menu.

There are several Dum Pukht restaurants in India, but the Mumbai outpost is particularly transportive. The décor reflects that of a dining room from one of India’s golden ages: marble floors, pristine white walls, gold leaf embellishments, crystal chandeliers, with blue and gold ornamentation. Dining here is like taking an exquisite journey back in time, and the food and drink list aren’t soon to be forgotten.


2. Sea  – Anantara Kihavah Villas, Maldives

 At the luxurious Anantara Kihavah Villas Resort in the Maldives, you can find Sea; one of the world’s most upscale dining experiences in one of the most unusual locations. Sea is just one of four restaurants in the resort’s outstanding dining complex, but compared to the other three, this dining experience is unrivaled, particularly because of its location (as its name suggests) deep under the sea. Sea is one of the world’s first underwater fine dining experiences, where diners descend into the depths of the Indian Ocean to eat a first-class meal on the ocean floor. The dining room at Sea is surrounded by panoramic glass windows so visitors can take in the beautiful tropical marine life and coral as they dine. While the location can’t be beat, the menu is even more outstanding. The dishes rotate depending on what ingredients are freshest for the season, and the restaurant offers a Mediterranean lunch buffet and a lavish four-course dinner daily. Sea is also known for its wine list, featuring over 250 bottles from all over the world.



3. Aer – The Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai

High atop the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai is Aer — a breathtaking lounge and restaurant 34 stories into the sky offering unrivaled views of the city of Mumbai. Aer covers the entire rooftop of the hotel and is completely open-air. The atmosphere at Aer is very trendy and chic; the furniture is minimalist, and the low-lighting lends the space an elegant and romantic feel. Many people mistakenly believe that the star at Aer is the cocktail menu; but the international tapas menu is one of the best in the city. Diners rave about the whiskey smoked salmon and prawn and ginger dumplings in an aromatic broth; there is also a huge selection of meat-free options for the vegetarian guest. An experience at Aer is unlike any other in Mumbai; packed nightly with beautiful people eating, drinking, and dancing to music spun by the famous DJ Fatbat, the restaurant feels more like you’re at a European hotspot than a hotel in Mumbai. There is a cover charge to get into Aer for any non-hotel guests; but the price is worth it, since dining here offers some of the best city views and most elegant ambience of any haute-cuisine restaurant on the continent.


(this image is creative commons)


On the menu

Anyone who’s ever run a restaurant can tell you that customers come back for the food as much as they do for the experience

Writer: Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

Mumbai - Nido

Nido, Mumbai

When the owners of newly opened modern-Italian restaurant Nido in Mumbai suburb, Bandra, brought architect Ashiesh Shah on board to do the interiors, the brief was pretty crisp: not conventional, quirky, yet completely habitable, an all-day oasis off the city’s busy streets, an alcove that people could get lost in. Shah’s initial concept for Nido’s design began with “a white squirrel, a woodland character that we originally wanted to base the premise around”. Anyone who has been to the restaurant since has noticed the many, many influences that have followed. It’s crammed, museum-like, with “antiques and wares”. There is a ceramic bathtub converted into a flower bed, silhouettes of birds behind lit, oval enamel lamps, wooden stag heads hanging by the entrance. Ostrich eggs form part of a display, as do the planters made of computer monitors. Topiary rabbits sit under bell jars, as filament lamps on pulleys are strung across the ceiling. No two tables or chairs are alike. Shah says that with Nido, they “took a completely new direction by restructuring a page straight out of an 18th-century tale and creating a narrative with the design”. It’s a narrative that eschews minimalism–which is rapidly becoming an untrendy cliché–and adopts extravagant maximalism.


Mumbai - Aoi

Aoi, Mumbai

Design is increasingly becoming part of the dining experience in India, as important as the food, sometimes even more than it. What’s on the walls can often be wilder than what’s on the menu. We can have a tomato and lemon-grass soup and a Greek salad in a Smoke House Deli in Khan Market, in a room where the grandfather clock, the bookshelves, the fireplace, are all sketched out with permanent marker on the walls. We can have Mexican bhel or chicken mole at Loca Loca in Bandra, where the ceiling is made of bright, hand-strung yarn, the wall depicts a Havana street scene, and the plush, deep, aged-red-leather chairs are by a muddle of Bharat Tiles mosaic. Even within Mumbai, the new restaurant design philosophy leans towards uber-posh (Ellipsis), or arty and whimsical (Aoi), or plain bizarre (Jamjar Diner). Sometimes there’s a little bit of all three (Pali Bhavan). Conservatism is boring.

At The White Owl, a brewery and pub in Lower Parel, the brewing tanks behind the bar look like an industrial installation. A bicycle and some spare wheels, wound with fairy lights, are attached to the wall. Every piece of furniture is handmade, even the chandeliers, made from used motor tyres. There is PVC on the cinema chairs, a wall installation of vintage out-of-use switches. “We wanted to engage the city,” says Noorie Sadarangani, owner of design firm Obataimu, which was brought on as a creative strategist to design The White Owl. “We wanted it to be young, non-threatening, not pretentious, comfortable.” Words that could very well be used to describe a person.


Mumbai - Jamjar Diner

Jamjar Diner, Mumbai

Young restaurateurs getting into the business, want, more than any other quality, a restaurant with soul. With the food scene exploding in the country–most city websites and newspapers review two to three new restaurants every week–design creates personality, and cuts through rapidly increasing clutter. So restaurateurs bring on designers who draw influences not just from architecture and interior design, but the city’s and the country’s cultural landscape, its food, music and fashion. “There is a huge spike in the confidence levels in our work ecosystem in the country,” says Ayaz Basrai, founder of design firm The Busride, which has designed the Smoke House Delis across India, Smoke House Room in Delhi, as well as the Jamjar Diner, Café Zoe and others in Mumbai. “Our design influences don’t need to come from the outside anymore. We resonate with progressive agendas and people who further the scene right here.” Among Basrai’s sources of admiration and inspiration are audiovisual collective, B.L.O.T., and chef Gresham Fernandes.

For Shama Shah, the Japanese eatery Aoi in Mumbai was her second restaurant project after Lemongrass. Shah made the switch from being a set designer for films and commercials, and Aoi’s whimsy and dreaminess make a surreal scene, like something from the movies. Her influences came from the origami her mother taught her as a girl, and the Manga novels her husband is so fond of. “I wanted to make an installation of cranes in flight as a feature and add function to it, turning it into a light,” Shah says. A Manga illustration of a wistful Japanese girl with floaty, flowing hair covers one wall, and lit fabric origami cranes dangle from the ceiling. While designers find inspiration within the country, and in faculties outside their own, the appetite for high design, and the rejection of conservatism, or even boring elegance, comes from a fast-shrinking world. The new generation of restaurateurs and diners is well travelled, and informed by its exposure to international design sensibilities. “You are no longer in competition with the country, you are in competition with the world,” says Rohan Talwar, owner of Ellipsis. “The amount you spend on the interiors, [the return on the investment] may not be quantifiable immediately, but it helps you create a reputation, and reputation pays off in the long run.”


Ellipsis has been designed by Thomas Schoos, whose portfolio includes Morimoto in Napa and Tao in New York. “I wanted a high-end place, but I also wanted a place that felt like you’re sitting in someone’s home,” Talwar adds. “I spent what I needed to spend to make sure the place was what I wanted.” Words like mood, personality, soul, give direction to new restaurant design. The designer and the restaurateur want the diner to feel a certain way on entering their restaurant. They want it to be evocative. “Design is not about nice tables, chairs, and chandeliers,” says Riyaaz Amlani, MD, Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which owns the Smoke House Delis, Smoke House Room, and others. “Design is about bringing out an emotion. You choose where to go depending on the mood you’re in today–dressy, casual, quirky…. You have to pay attention to the property and see how it wants to be designed.”

The questions we ask are no longer about how much must be spent, or what the food is going to be like, or what the theme of the restaurant will be. Before a restaurant is designed, the team dreaming it up is more likely to wonder: How hard does the design need to work? What does the space want? What do we want the diner to feel?

Find out more in the September-October issue of Architectural Digest, out on stands now.

Written and Content provided by Architectural Digest

Pearls of the Orient

Each week, we compile a few of our favorite reviews written by our members:


6 course Asian experience at Singkong


I’ve tried the 6 course meal @ Singkong already twice now and it’s really a mouth-watering experience. The Shrimp Nest tops my list served with sweet chilli sauce. The Chilli Basa in the starters also is excellent. The Cilantro seafood soup is just so yumm. Love the coriander flavours. For the mains I ordered Phuket style Basa and Hakka Noodles which was a good combination. The Prawn and spinach dimsum was well flavoured and light. The dessert topped the experience. The Mocha fudge created a melt-in-your-mouth moment and so did the layered Carrot cake. I love the ambience and the service too. Would love to visit the place once GIU comes with a new deal. – Suchita Murthy

Royal China 
Seafood DumplingWe had an amazing dinner last night – the dimsums were outstanding and the toffee banana dessert was superb. Anyone trying this must order the prawn dimsums, the sticky rice wrapped in a leaf and the chicken asparagus disum. Will definitely be going back soon. – Salona Joshi



Hakkasan 4 course experience

Stir Fried Chor Chong Chicken

In a nondescript commercial building in Bandra, on the second floor is a night clubby looking large space. Beautifully decorated, with tables and booths far away from each, conducive to quiet conversations. We chose drinks off the ala carte menu. The Berkely diaquiri was very strong and the Virgin Hakka was very sweet. The dim sum was brilliant. Hard to pick a favorite but we got seconds of the edamame dumpling and the chicken shu mai. The main course was delicious but not as memorable as the dim sum. The Asam sauce was more Indian than Chinese but tasty nonetheless. The tofu preparation and the chicken dish were our other favorites. The dessert was inventive and attractive but ended up being the weakest link. All the dim sum were exceptional in taste, looks and portions. The GIU meal is probably the best value for money in town. Unending starters and all the main dishes, 2 kinds of rice preparations and noodles are served. The service was fine but! not yet at a fine dining level – water glasses were not refilled, 2 dishes didn’t have serving spoons, a napkin that fell on the floor was taken away but not replaced. These little things were what kept us from having a complete fine dining experience but we will be back for the food and the GIU value proposition. (This review was co written by a regular patron of the Las Vegas outlet of Hakkasan.) – Rati Tripathi


When our Founders were invited to a Jacobs Creek Wine Tasting & Brunch

Our founders Kunal and Deepa Jain at the brunch

Our founders Kunal and Deepa Jain at the brunch

It was an afternoon filled with wine, great food and some interesting conversation when our founders Kunal and Deepa Jain were invited for the Jacobs Creek Wine Tasting Brunch held at the ITC Maratha.

Wine tastings and the secrets behind each made for an intrigued audience

Wine tastings and the secrets behind each made for an intrigued audience

The event was headed by Mr. Adrian Pinto, Senior Manager Wines and Mr. Steve Meckiff, Global Wine Ambassador – Australia.

Kunal and Deepa Jain with Mr. Adrian Pinto, Senior Manager Wines

Kunal and Deepa Jain with Mr. Adrian Pinto, Senior Manager Wines


There’s more to GourmetItUp than you thought!



We promised to give you the most exclusive & unique fine dining experiences in Mumbai. We know we are succeeding because our members are not only dining out more regularly, but dining in style and using our services in ways we hadn’t predicted.

Here is a new series where we document interesting ways in which our members use GourmetItUp experiences and associated services to supercharge their dining only so that you can try them out or create a new one of your own.

Untitled_sdasdasd1_copyRemember those exclusive menus you get while enjoying a GourmetItUp experience? GourmetItUp regular Siddharth Arya went to Quattro for the 6 course Mexican experience, to celebrate his birthday with his family and got that very menu for himself with a birthday message printed on it. You too can get your name, the reason you’re celebrating or anything else you like printed on the menu. The price can also be hidden upon request. Members have found these to be perfect for birthdays, anniversaries and while entertaining clients or friends.


vipmenus_copy.1Another member, Rajesh recently entertained a group of foreign business associates with a GourmetItUp experience and the special GourmetItUp menus without the price. So while his guests enjoyed a 6 course meal and lauded him for his hospitality, little did they know of the exemplarily affordable price he had paid. So next time you have a special reason to celebrate or show off, contact our concierge about our VIP menus for a nominal charge.


giftcards_copy.1Members have recently been using GourmetItUp’s Gift Cards as an easy and thoughtful gifting option. Sheetal and Nikhil gifted their newly wed friends GourmetItUp Gift Cards worth Rs. 10000. Now this lucky couple gets to enjoy a GourmetItUp experience at least once a month.  The festive season is approaching and with it comes the stress of figuring out gifts for family, friends & business associates. Relieve yourself from these societal pressures and the clutches of being seasonal Santa Claus by opting for GourmetItUp Gift Cards and give your loved ones the opportunity to enjoy an experience just like you have done.


willyoumarryme_copyRecently we got a call from a warm and friendly voice with a unique request. One of our members who requests anonymity, asked our concierge to help him choose a GourmetItUp experience with a quaint and romantic setting and asked us to pre-book a bottle of champagne so he could propose to his girl and ask her hand in marriage. While they had a memorable evening, we were delighted to be a part of this special moment in their lives.


We’ll be back soon with more ways that members are enjoying GourmetItUp. If you have had a special experience with GourmetItUp, write back and let us know what it was.