Bored from conventional food menu? Try this

Mumbai: For those bored of the everyday combo of dal, rice and chapatti, a unique spread of over 10 mouth-watering savouries, including beetroot risotto and five spice chicken, is on offer at an innovative culinary event here that provides small servings which are big on taste.

‘Small Plates Week’, which claims to be a first-of-its kind culinary discovery platform, features 15 of Mumbai’s finest informal dining restaurants offering unlimited small servings of the best dishes that they have to offer.

The 10-day culinary event, which began on June 17 and will continue till June 26, features a minimum of six vegetarian and non-vegetarian savoury dishes each and four desserts. Diners can order each small plate on the menu and re-order servings of any particular small plate they enjoy.

The concept of Small Plates Week is based on market trends showing an upswing in informal dining outlets offering ‘small plates’ on their menus through which diners can sample a wide variety of the restaurant’s culinary offerings.

Chef Viraf Patel, of Cafe Zoe at Lower Parel, who is participating in the event, says, “Small Plates allows an option to try out more dishes. If customers were to order our regular sized menu items, it would take a lot longer to try out all the dishes. Having guests try more dishes is the focus.”

Among the gourmet dishes offered by Patel are hot favourites like ‘beetroot risotto’, ‘seared tortellini’ (veggies, almonds & cream cheese), and ‘pulled pork in brioche’.

He says any cuisine would serve well as small plates. The trend has existed for over a decade in the West, but it’s been a tradition for hundreds of years in many countries.

According to chef Gracian of Worli-based AKA Restaurant, “The diner shall taste dishes that aren’t just run-of-the-mill. The focus is to expose our flavours and enable the customer to taste the new Mediterranean menu at AKA.”

Foodies can sample ‘Aubergine Ravioli’ (caponata and tomato ragout), ‘Chicken Liver Pate’- Red onion & orange marmalade, spiced apple chutney & toasted brioche, ‘Moorish Style Chorizo’- spinach, chickpea, cumin crumbs and flatbread, among the dishes offered by AKA on small plates.

Gracian says Mediterranean and pan-Asian food items serve best in the concept of small plates.

“The trend is awesome as it gives the customer more variety to try at an affordable price,” he said, adding “We need more initiatives like this and maybe even include a large plates week.”

Appreciating the concept, executive chef Prashant Puttaswampy, of The Fatty Bao in suburban Bandra, says “The diners can taste up to 14 dishes from the menu (of his eatery) and explore different flavours, techniques of cooking and choices in different meat and vegetables – all this without feeling overstuffed.”

He expected the restaurant’s succulent delicacies like ‘Five Spice Fried Chicken Bao’ -with lettuce, mustard mayonnaise and tomato, ‘Minced vegetables and water chestnut Dimsum’ and ‘Fatty and the Egg-Coconut cream and passion fruit puree with a twist’ (baked phyllo sheets) to be popular during the event.

“I think Asian cuisine works very well for small plates. The trend is picking up very well with most of the restaurants and chefs across in emphasising on small plates.

“The diner has a wider variety to choose from and its fun to share and explore different flavours with friends rather than having a conventional meal,” he said.
The event is the brainchild of Mangal Dalal and Nachiket Shetye of Cellar Door Hospitality.

“’Small Plates Week’ helps you discover restaurants through the nicest way possible – a menu covering 16 or so dishes that can be shared and repeatedly ordered,” says Dalal, Director of Cellar Door Hospitality.

“Underlying the current trend in the industry, small plates dining encourages consumers to have a more entertaining night out. A meal made up of small plates has some advantages it allows diners to experience a variety of savoury, sweet dishes and allows the restaurant to showcase dishes that give diners a feel of their culinary philosophy,” Shetye said.

“If your ideal dinner conversation involves talking to your friends about your food, then shared plates are perfect. ‘Small Plates Week’ allows diners to taste a variety of dishes and then ask for more of the ones they liked,” he added.