To open a seafood restaurant in Mumbai is a brave move, given the city boasts of some of the finest fresh-catch eateries. Enter Zorawar and Dildeep Kalra, who decided to give the challenge a go and cause exciting ripples in the water. With a mission to serve the best of seafood sourced from across the globe, offer fresh produce from local fisheries, and present the country’s first champagne and caviar bar – they had a fair amount of work cut out for themselves. They greeted Mumbai with a wealth of seafood recipes that will keep your forks and knives busy.
We make our way through the restaurant washed in hues of blue, white and sea-green, and take in the clean and crisp design. A good glimpse of the spacious and drool-worthy kitchen, lets us understand that it is 50% of the restaurant layout. Bustling with a strong team of 28 chefs, this cohort is led by Chef Varun Kinger. A stunning display of marine bounty resting on a well-lit ice-bed piqued our interest as we took our seats. The ripple effect flows on to the steps leading to the bar area and is complemented by ripples on the handrail glass, giving a calming water effect. As we take in the aquatic-inspired décor of the space, we can’t wait to undertake the culinary voyage narrated by the warm and well-informed floor staff. Glass partitions, wall decals resembling ripples, optic fiber induced sunray-effects piercing through clear water, sea-urchin shaped artifacts and sea-green plates reminiscent of frothy waves mirror the menu beautifully.
Speaking to the gentleman of the hour, Zorawar, “R2O is about respecting the ingredient. We have spent over a year researching and developing the menu. We travelled multiple cities & countries, and met dozens of purveyors in our pursuit of finding the freshest ingredients. The journey to make this menu has been deeply fulfilling.” He speaks to us about their decadent and signature 15-course Chef’s Tasting Menu, paired with options of four top shelf wines or champagnes. The tasting commences with an amuse bouche of melon, Yuzu foam, and house-made caviar – setting the tone on a light & fresh note. The Cold Bar course brings with it a sweet and savoury Barley and Green Apple Waldorf Salad encased in a delicate squid blanket, paired with a glass of Moët & Chandon’s Brut Imperial. The artfully plated bite-sized portion is the right play of tang and crunch. The next segment of the Cold Bar course is another burst of flavour in form of the Shrimp Tartare in Mandarin Sauce, and ends with a Modernist Nicoise Salad, complete with a Kalra-esque gastronomical element — crystallised tuna. Whilst R2O kicks off on a promising start for seafood connoisseurs, the menu duly notes varied dietary preferences. Case in point: the sushi-inspired bowl of goodness in shape of the Japanese-inspired Mushroom and Truffle Pâté with Melba Crisps. Next up is a delightful Leek and Crab soup that kicks in warmth reminiscent of a winter afternoon. The richness is cut through by the sweetness and acidity offered by the fried crab sticks. As we scoop the bottoms of our shell-shaped soup bowls, we take a moment to appreciate the glorious circular bar, stocked with over 60 kinds of wines across the globe, and champagnes available in India. Best part? Also available by the glass.
We continue the gastronomic voyage with Mussels poached in Chardonnay, in a bed of paprika-parsley butter, blowtorched to smoky perfection. All ready to be mopped up with a hunk of focaccia, and washed down with a flute of Chartogne-Taillet Cuvée Sainte Anne Brut. Whilst the Sushi Taco with Avocado & Cream Cheese is an interesting idea on paper, it begs to be omitted from the menu which rests on the tenets of classical cooking. On the other hand, classical cooking is beautifully showcased by the plate of Textures of Mushrooms, that celebrates the principal ingredient in the most respectful manner. The pièce de résistance was the buttery and earthy Truffled Fresh Lobster, delicately topped with delectable black caviar. This fire grilled fresh lobster is generously smeared with truffle oil, served with lemon butter & leek and topped with parmesan and cured yolk. The Chilean Sea Bass cooked in sambal sauce melts in your mouth, the Belgian Charred Pork Ribs are succulent and falls right off the bone. Special mention to the maple and balsamic glaze – we suggest you bottle and sell this gem!
Whilst a temporary feeling of fullness waves over, our appetites are whetted again with the much talked-about main course — a Malabar Soft-Shelled Crab Curry served with a beautifully flakey Malay Parota. Luscious, velvety, gone in under 5 minutes, these are the makings of a dish that we continue to dream about and destroy many keyboards with drool. For dessert, we are served the Black Truffle ice-cream, drizzled with viscous chocolate ganache and topped with gold leaf. The dessert comes with a side of vanilla foam, meringue and sponge cake. Yes, the ice-cream is tasty, but is overpowered by the sweet foam with not much contribution by an otherwise-spectacular vanilla.
What is obvious through the 15 ambrosial courses at Rivers To Oceans is that the ingredient is the hero. Located in a city like Mumbai, where produce is celebrated with much reverence, R2O aims to please with showcasing the natural, the fresh, the ambrosial.
Head here: Level 1, Palladium Mall, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Timings: 12pm – 3pm and 7pm – 1.30am
Make a reservation by ringing: 022-49735025