‘If you don’t like my pie, you are not welcome next time!’
Coming from the co-owner of an upscale restaurant, that’s sassy! And that’s one of the reasons why The Sassy Spoon at Nariman Point stands out amongst many other restaurants in the city that offer modern European food in an elegant setting. Cheerful, bandana-ed Chef Irfan Pabaney was probably only half-joking when he said that. Because the food that he and the ‘Cordon Bleu-d’, pretty co-owner Rachel Goenka put up at this toasty restaurant is bold in its flavours, happy in its portions and unapologetic in its quirkiness!
But Sassy Spoon is more than the sum of its Chefs and their prized experience of working alongside some pretty big Indian and International chefs. There are undertones of personal wacky food experiences and inspirations here. There is a playful pulse on the city’s taste buds – mixed metaphors just belong here ;) And at the centre of it, there is an enormous amount of… heart! With all that going on, chances of your NOT loving the food are pretty slim, what say?
But Irfan and Rachel don’t leave things to chance. Yes, they are quick to experiment with flavours and textures. But these experiments are very often vetted by foodie friends, famed gourmands and food aficionados of the city… and sometimes, by people like me who live to eat, and tell it like it is.
Take for example the humble Goan Poi, a traditional bread from Goa, freshly baked here and now the hero of the bulked-up sandwich section. Like others, I loved the cute little Pita-like bread pockets, especially the Crumbled Cottage Cheese with Sriracha Mayo filling. But the Crispy Chicken filling felt a bit incomplete… some fresh salad leaves? Or a sauce maybe? Chef Irfan agreed, and promised to tweak it into shape…
Then there’s the Mac and Cheese. Hang on, before you run for the door, at least give the big, cast-iron skillet one last look. Because this ain’t no ordinary Mac and Cheese here.
It could be a Minced Beef Spaghetti with Smoked Scarmoza waiting for you on the gleaming, distressed-wood table. Or a Goa Sausage topped with Mac and Queso, served bubbling from the oven. Enough to get you back from that door and dig in.
And then stay on for maybe a South African Bobotie or a Spinach and Feta Flatbread. So, is the Bobotie any different from spicy Biryani in Mumbai? Is the Flatbread any different from a fresh, crusty pizza slice? Not really. But do they taste good and make you roll up your sleeves and jump in? Oh yes!
And that’s exactly what the chefs would have you do. Call the cuisine ‘eclectic European’, call it ‘country-style’. But if it makes you want to eat more, and come back for more, then the chef’s job is done! Well, almost… because Rachel feels her job is not done until she has filled you to your gills with her glorious desserts from a proud, 3-page dessert menu. I only had space for one, but I ended up trying FOUR desserts – the Seven Textured Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake, (which is the best sin to sin on, methinks!), the intense Lemon n Thyme Cheesecake (I love lemony desserts and liked the sharp lemon hit), the Plum and Almond Tart (homely and nice) and the signature Sassy Stacks (light Red Velvet squares, perfectly paired with a mugful of… Cappuccino Foam!)
What I like about Sassy Spoon is its openness. Not just the openness of space, with a high ceiling, and a giant wall full of pre-loved trunks that make you want to grab one and set sail on a cruise ship! It’s also the openness with which the Chefs view food per se, listening to what people want and like, taking in honest opinions, giving it a bit of their own cheeky personalities, and thinking up palate-pleasers that leave your tummy tickled pink! Mixed metaphors again? Well, blame it on the sass here!