With an innovative menu and a radical award winning design, Tote on the Turf has all the ingredients for a great night out
By: Lorraine Rodrigues
Posted on: August 10, 2010
Fabulous, innovative menus? Check.
Radical award winning interior design? Check.
A spacious bar with attentive and well-informed service? Check.
A sprawling 25,000 square feet of space to soak in all of the above? Check.
With all the ingredients for a great night out, it’s not surprising that even a year after opening, Mumbai-based restaurateur Rahul Akerkar’s brainchild, Tote on the Turf, continues to draw in the city’s discerning - and usually unforgiving - gourmets and party goers. And they’re not the only ones paying attention. This June, Tote won the Best Bar Award at the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards in London.
Divided into an al-fresco dining area, an elegant bar and restaurant and a hall for events, the restaurant’s Gaudi-esque columns with branch like extensions reaching up to the roof, all in white, are the most striking feature of the décor. Throw in the white iron chairs wrought in the same pattern, and you have a dining area predominantly in white, with an open, relaxed ambiance.
The abstract tree theme continues to the bar only in dark brown tones. This cavernous area with an arching ceiling also accommodates a mezzanine area with seating so spacious and comfortable that it leaves you with no choice but to sit back and enjoy your drink. If your friend’s on the opposite side of the table, you may have to shout across, thanks to the wide spaces in between.
…Which you probably won’t, because you’ll be pouring over the expansive selection of cocktails in their bar menu. We started off with Hoffman’s Concoction, a potent brew of coffee, orange, gold tequila. In other words, perfect for kick starting a night out.
By the time we moved to round two, the grilled quail with upma and rosemary jus had arrived. A fine accoutrement to this appetizer was Tote’s take on the classic Sangria - Red Wine, Tequila, Orange Liqueur, Grape juice and infused fresh fruits.
For the main course we decided to head downstairs to the main dining area, where their open kitchen allows you to peer in at the chefs-at-work. The all white décor, widely spaced tables and chatter lends this space a friendly gymkhana feel without losing its restaurant vibe altogether.
Our dinner sampled both vegetarian and non vegetarian sections. If you’d like to preclude your meal with a soup, Tote’s menu currently has three to chose from – Black bean soup served with tomato salsa, sour cream and nachos, Green pea Parmesan soup or the onion soup with a choice of Parma ham.
Notable in the vegetarian section were the corn and kaffir lime cakes, warm soba noodles and Thai green curry. But the variety of Tote’s dinner menu will be appreciated best by its carnivorous customers, who can choose from grilled red snapper in saffron succotash, braised lamb shanks in a wild rice stew and okra, barbequed pork ribs served with helpings of coleslaw, baked potato and corn bread.
Our vote goes to the charcoal-grilled tenderloin with peppers, sweet potatoes and olives, with the king prawns coming in a close second. The prawns were flame grilled and were accompanied by bok choi (also called Chinese cabbage).
A special mention needs to be made of their pizzas. Even a simple base, with roasted tomato and mozzarella served with basil and pine nuts, paired with a white wine of your liking, is an absolute delight at Tote.
We almost gave dessert a miss, but the fruit-infused menu evoked our curiosity and we asked for the white chocolate cream cheese fondant accompanied by burnt grapefruit and Campari honey. The delicate ultra-sweet casing gave way to a luscious white chocolate fondant inside, convincing us that skipping dessert, especially at Tote, is never a good idea.
For loyal guests of deGustibus Hospitality (the parent company run by Akerkar and his wife Malini), Tote’s menu is a well-thought addition to the Mediterranean fare at Indigo. But even for those unacquainted this far with Akerkar’s experiments in fine dining, we can’t think of a better initiation than Tote.
Coordinates: Mahalaxmi Race Course, Opp. Gate #5 & 6, Keshva Rao Khadye Marg, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai 400034, India
Phone: +91 22 6157 7777 (reservations & enquiries)