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Sette Mara Paints a Rich Tapestry of Levant Cuisine for Mumbai

The St. Regis Mumbai has relaunched Sette Mara with an entirely new culinary experience. Introducing Levant cuisine to Mumbai, Chef Ahmed Farhat’s flavorful menu is redolent of the Levantine traditions and culture.

LF Says: ★★★★★

Mumbai is no stranger to international cuisines. From the bylanes to towering seven-star establishments, one will find delicacies from every corner of the world – including Takoyakis and Schnitzels! However, there has been a noticeable rise in Middle Eastern cuisine, especially in the city’s fine dining landscape. So The St. Regis Mumbai’s relaunch of Sette Mara with a visionary chef and a refreshing menu is reason enough for all gastronomes to seek something they can appreciate.

Sette Mara Mumbai Levant Cuisine

Setting the Levantine vibe

‘Sette Mara’, or seven seas, brings the freshness and authenticity of the Levant region, which comprises modern-day countries of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and neighboring areas. The region, by the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, stands as the cradle of civilization and a testament to the diverse culinary heritage of the area. Influenced by centuries of trade and conquest, Levantine cuisine offers a rich tapestry of flavors and traditions.

Sette Mara is a wonderful Middle Eastern voyage. The ambiance will transport you to the ancient Levant ports. The vibrant yet relaxing shades of blue effortlessly bind the coastal commonalities of Mumbai and the Levant region. However, the most unmissable design feature is the colossal, and quite mesmerizing, astronomical compass poised on the dining room ceiling. You might also spot a vintage black almirah embellished in silver that simply elevates the Levantine vibe (do not hesitate to ask the staff about it, they will be more than happy to answer).

Sette Mara Mumbai Levant Cuisine

The Mumbai nostalgia also makes its presence known with the bar wall characterized by oversized matchboxes featuring vintage Bollywood photographs and recognizable city landmarks. Sophisticated yet warm, Sette Mara’s vibe strikes the perfect balance between a lounge and fine dining with its dark hues of burnished rusts, burgundies, and cinnamon tones. The resident DJ plays nostalgic dance tunes to house music. You might even find yourself grooving subtly to one as the cocktails hit you gently.

Negronis and more

Sette Mara’s list of beverages is extensive. However, among the range of handcrafted artisanal cocktails they offer, it is the variants of the classic Negroni that they prize themselves on. The Negroni is a timeless three-ingredient aperitif cocktail made of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, garnished with an orange peel or an orange slice. The menu serves an impressive array of this unfailing drink, including the Oak Barrel Aged Negroni, The Luxury Boulevardier, Sette Mara Aromatic Spritz, Turkish Old Fashioned, and Crystal Truffle Negroni.

Sette Mara Mumbai Bar Levant Cuisine

Going by the very sprightly bartender Dilwar’s recommendations, and my preference for gin-based drinks, he kickstarted my evening with the Pearl of the Mediterranean cocktail. The name does absolute justice to the presentation as it came in a large conch-shaped cocktail glass. Composed of Malfy gin, Chamomile, Cherry Liqueur, and Lime, this cocktail was refreshing and tropical, reminiscent of the balmy Mediterranean breeze. The combination of Malfy gin and Lime’s citric acidity is balanced well with the sweetness of Cherry Liqueur and Chamomile. I highly recommended this zesty cocktail.

My plus-one has a peculiar affinity towards tequila and was served The Contemporary from the menu. A sweeter cocktail as opposed to my citrusy one, The Contemporary is made of Patron Reposado – a Mexican tequila aged for four months in American whiskey barrels accompanied by Cinnamon Syrup, Carrot Juice, Orange Bitters, and Lime Juice. As I took a sip from the drink, much to the dismay of my guest for the evening, I could primarily taste the tequila and the carrot juice dominating the drink, while the cinnamon syrup and orange bitters added a nice touch of sweetened spice to the cocktail. It is ideal for those seeking stronger flavors in their drinks.

The taste of the Middle East

It was imperative, especially seeing the culinary range on the food menu, to stick to only one drink and preserve the appetite for the food. Inspired by the Levantine cuisine, Chef Ahmed Farhat has recreated the most ubiquitous Middle Eastern delicacies. While the dishes in Levantine and Middle Eastern cuisine are inherently similar, Chef Farhat informed that Levantine cuisine focuses on lesser spices, and has a coastal influence given the region’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.

Sette Mara Mumbai Lobster Hummus
Lobster Hummus at Sette Mara, Mumbai

Our selections for the evening were completely based on the chef’s recommendations, starting with the most proverbial Middle Eastern dish – Hummus and Pita bread. Sette Mara offers Classic Hummus, Basil Hummus, and Lobster Hummus. We tried the last one. The Pita bread was, indisputably, one of the best I have tasted. The softness and the texture of the bread make it a delicacy on its own. The Lobster Hummus combines two very strong flavors, and the crustacean touch elevates this quotidian dish. The taste buds will initially be met with the earthiness of Tahini and the smoothness of the hummus while the lobster’s sweetness lingers as an aftertaste.

The next dish was another staple with a refreshing take – the Levantine Falafel Shawarma. More like a pocket sandwich, this dish has a strong taste of Edamame as opposed to the usual chickpeas. The flavors were exceedingly fresh and the Iraqi Amba (a tangy condiment made of pickled mangoes found in Iraqi households) adds zing to this filling and very nutritious dish. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of inexplicable comfort and nostalgia while eating this. As superior as the dishes were, it almost felt homely. It is quite extraordinary how Chef Farhat has translated the authentic Levantine joy of shared meals, thanks to his Egyptian origins.

The Warq Enab, our next dish, is a quintessential Lebanese slow-cooked appetizer made with fresh herbs and spiced rice wrapped in lemony grape leaves. Chef Farhat has added a touch of pimento to this classic. Salty and piquant, the Warq Enab’s freshness shipped us to a quaint port-side eatery in the Middle East.

Sette Mara Mumbai Levant Cuisine
Classic Falafel at Sette Mara, Mumbai

The final dish (before the dessert, of course) was the highlight of the evening – the sizzling and splendid seafood platter ‘From the Ocean’. For someone who has grown up adoring seafood specialties, this was a very pleasant surprise. The platter was a complete coastal punch with its Charred Grill Rock Lobster, Tiger Prawn, Calamari, and Sea Bass accompanied by Spicy Harissa dip and Pita Breads. The smokey charcoal flavor had seeped into every component of the platter, enhancing the supple texture while balancing the brininess of the seafood. Small amounts of the Spicy Harissa dip will deliver the sharpness to your palate. This platter is filling, flavorsome, and a must-try for everyone who has been craving exquisite seafood for a very long time.

Despite our full heart and appetite, it felt incomplete to not end the evening with a dessert. For our chant du cygne, we could opt for something simpler like a sorbet or an ice cream, or for one of the elaborate Middle Eastern desserts like the signature Baklava or Umm Ali, an Egyptian pudding made of Buttery Croissants, Sweetened Rose Milk, Torched Cream, Roasted Nuts. But we decided to go for the best of both worlds with a Lebanese Ice Cream Sundae, and needless to say, we were not disappointed. Served in a waffle bowl, a scoop each of Pine Nut & Saffron and Turkish Coffee Ice Cream is topped with Middle Eastern elements like Lebanese cotton candy and Turkish delight. True bliss!

The final verdict

Sette Mara, Mumbai’s first ever Levant restaurant, exceeded my expectations.

Middle Eastern cuisine has a comforting nature and ease of eating. And Sette Mara has not only enriched the archetypal delicacies with Levantine flavors but also translated the unrestrained cheer of truly enjoying the meals, in a polished fine dining setting.

Sette Mara Mumbai Levant Cuisine
Levant Chicken Shawarma at Sette Mara, Mumbai

Chef Farhat’s rootedness in his culture is evident as you experience a full culinary journey from Egypt to the Maghreb region. From Tajine, the famed North African stew, the Egyptian Fatteh to the Tunisian-inspired Rubiyan Qalat Daqqa (a five spices blend with Tiger Prawns, made at Sette Mara with Levant seven spices), his curations are transcontinental.

While their specialties lie in the Negronis, the vast range of craft cocktails like the Shakshuka Mary, Sette Mara Saz-Arak, or Pistachio Daiquiri, is something to look forward to. They also have a separate section for Bloody Mary devotees and a small selection of non-alcoholic drinks for teetotalers.

Special mention goes to the very engaging and attentive staff. Overall, this sojourn of the seven seas in one refined setting was spectacular.

LF Says: ★★★★★

Coordinates: The St. Regis, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India