In a NUtshell:
An interesting, beautiful, concept restaurant that serves French and Bengali cuisine, lovely drinks, has warm hospitality, a super fun to read, chatty menu card, good French food (mumbai has better) and undoubtedly the best in town Bengali food that is ahead of competition by thousands of miles.
Address & other details: Mustard
Meal for 2: ₹1500 onwards
Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
The people behind mustard are marketing geniuses ….. one had to be really absent minded to miss posts about this new restaurant on the social media. Posts by them, the people involved and probably hundreds of social media influencers, many of whom were invited for a free meal and write about it.
I was probably invited too (has been ages I checked email inbox) but as per the principle followed at Yummraj.com, we chose to go in anonymity and we paid for our food. Once again we got convinced that our 7 year resolution of being anonymous and not going on invites give us a true picture of what a common person goes thru. The pre-dinner experience was a disaster.
It all started with booking. There was a phone number on Zomato which would perennially ring and no one would pick up. I went on chat with Zomato help desk to help do a booking and they could not help. For 2 weeks after the phone numbers were in public no one picked it. Also they were not open for lunch at that time but no intimation of that on Zomato. The restaurant opened for lunch a day after we visited – bad start to consumer experience. Am sure Zomato was not imagining and putting up such info on their own.
The first visit – that evening we finally got a seat booking for 2, we reached the restaurant and got to know that Hilsa is only for lunch. Zomato mentioned about a a monsoon menu in zomato which had ilish dishes in it. We also got to know that the lunch was to start from next day!!!! Huge miscommunication again.
We booked a table for 2 and got a confirmation. We were offered a high stool to sit. We requested for normal but were told that the same is not available. What if I were to go with my grandmother? Was I supposed to lift her and place her on the high stool? Logically this should have been mentioned at the time of booking.
The first guy who came to give us the menu card almost knew nothing and surely was just doing a job. He could hv been a helper at a car repair center or a peon at Aadhar card registration booth. I don’t know why such people were allowed to meet customers in a formal restaurant.
After giving us the menu card the guy said ‘My suggestion is to go for French as Bengali and other Indian u will get everywhere’. Really? Bengali and other Indian – as if they r homogeneous!!!! Outrageous.
The lady who Co-owns the place was doing her rounds that evening. We had some nice but little food chat with her. She suggested French as well, saying ‘it goes well on a Sunday evening’ and that made so much sense. She made quite a few suggestions and we blindly went for those.
The restaurant has few key people apart from the co-owners. 1. A French consultant chef who has curated the French menu and handed over post trials. 2. A food historian, journalist and amazing cook, and a consultant to this project, Pritha Sen has curated the Bengali food menu. 3. A full time chef who manages the kitchen on day to day basis. 4. A bar magician evegenya prazdnik, who has ‘shaken and stirred’ around the world for 14 years, stayed in 5 countries and is now based out of india.
The menu card is a book – it’s chatty, unputdownable, not boring to read a second time and is the work of a genius. Loved the info as well as the infinite sense of humour. It was actually awkward that both the times someone came to take the orders, we were not ready as we were immersed in reading the lovely descriptions of food.
Loved how dishes from 2 different cuisines sat next to each other on the menu card.
The French food was good but not wow. Nowhere compared to the wah wah we hv been hearing from all. Is it coz the curators were there during tasting sessions and everything was checked b4 serving, which was of course not the case for common people like us. Or did the human interaction with chefs bias some of the bloggers. I don’t know.
The Bengali food defined a new benchmark – deserves a food oscar. Bengali food at mustard is peerless – never had anything as good outside of anyone’s home. I guess it is an optimum harmony of recipes and curation by P.S. and the seamless implementation of the same by the team in the kitchen. Whatever it is, After that lunch it was like ‘P.S. we love you’
People in general were polite but not seasoned. Except a few, most seemed to b not aware of the food as much as they shud hv been.
In a typical pice hotel in Kolkata that always has people waiting, a guy cleans a table in less than 10 seconds. Guys at mustard need to b trained how to clean the table after bong food has been served – rice does not come off with dry hard white cloth. It sticks back. the guy was around for I guess more than a minute struggling to remove morsels of rice from the table!!!!
Beautifully done interiors – nice furniture that stands out.
Cutlery that I loved
Detailed description – in case u hv the time to njoy reading:
Starting the detailed description with day 2 as the read is way more uplifting and I am excited to share the story
Day 2 – Bengali lunch
We started with taka luchi. It was like a Sixer that went out of the stadium and landed on the next stadium. Ridiculously absurdly good. Perfect texture, perfect bite size, perfect softness of aloo and luchi. Beautiful balance of sweet salt and chilly and a nice after flavor. Rate it 4.95/5
Mishti doi – lovely potent drink with mishti doi in the base but the alcohol taste and flavor completely overpowered the flavours and taste of doi as if the latter never existed …. memories of it in terms of colour as seen with the eyes!!!! It had brandy, mishti doi, jaggery, aromatic bitters. As a drink rate it 4/5.
Mochar guley kabab was obviously made from mocha (banana flower – every fruit has goes thru a flower stage and so does banana. Bengalis, Assamese and people in some southern states eat it). The kabab had daal as a binding agent. The kabab was marvellous. It was lumpy, not like a paste and hence every bite was like a discovery. It had salt, sweet, sour and chilly. Different proportions of these in each bite made every bite’s texture different and also the taste. Kala jira flavor made its presence felt, in addition to ginger. This kabab can be termed saatvik or niramish (Bengali vegetarian) as it has no garlic or onions. Rate it 4.75/5
Shol peyanj was the first non vegetarian dish for the afternoon. Shol fish is not to be mistaken with ‘river sole’ fish. This shol fish looks like an eel or snake and is called snakehead murrel in English.
The Shol fish cubes were lightly covered with rice flour (I guess to help retain the texture and juiciness of a fish piece without skin) and tossed in onions and garlic. Loved the cubes of fish and the deep fried onions on top. Slightly crisp on the outside and juicy and flaky inside. Rate it 4.5/5
We asked for Hilsa (not on the menu) and we were told that there is bhapa Ilish Paturi. We opted for it. What came on the plate was the best ilish (Hilsa fish) that I have had in the last 3 years in mumbai!!! It was a large piece from a large fish. That ensured that the fish was adequately fatty and hence outstanding. The quality of fish was mind blowing good. The mustard paste in which the fish was cooked was perfect in everything except in salt. It was 90% optimally salted. Ignoring the salt bit, rate the dish 4.95/5. Considering the executional mistake, revise the final rating to 4.5/5
We then opted for a Bangla ghorowa maccher thala (heritage fish mezze platter). What appeared on the table was far from a traditional thali that I was expecting. It was a culinary marvel – Bengali food re created (with flavours, textures and taste intact), re plated and re imagined, that can be served at ease to anyone from anywhere in the world at any time – no feeling of heaviness after eating this. Small portions of 5 things with 4 pieces of Baqarkhani roti.
For the uninitiated, baqar Khani roti was introduced during the Nawabi rule of Bengal , named after an officer baqar khan. It’s a crisp thick bread, almost like a biscuit.
The following 4 dishes were a part of the platter:
Kumror chhyanchra – red pumpkin cooked with fish head. The fish head and pumpkin was slow cooked together for a long time and that resulted in a unique romance between them – the flavours of both intermingled. The pumpkin pieces were reduced to a mash and tiny fish head pieces were coming to the mouth along with super tiny pieces of fish head bones (not sharp). Loved it. Rate it 4.75/5
Loittya maccher jhuri was made from loittya maach (what is called Bombay duck in mumbai). For the uninitiated, Bombay duck is not a duck but a fish. The dried fish used to be sent by post (daak in Hindi) to different places from Bombay and hence the name Bombay daak, which over time became duck!!!!
Marvel on the plate. Once again fish reduced to a mash, spices and fish flavours intermingled beautifully. Thread like fish bones were all over the dish – that’s how it s supposed to b. Wow. Rate it 4.95/5
Chingri bata was steamed and minced freshwater prawns. This I wud say packed the least punch among the 4. It was very good on its own but lower on percentile!!!
The menu card mentioned mashed prawns but what came was minced. Loved the freshness, simplicity and just about everything about the dish. Rate it 4.25/5
Maacher dimer tauk was a sweet n sour dish made from fish roe (fish eggs). The texture was lovely. Each grain of the roe was independent yet they were soft. Great to taste. Rate it 4.5/5
Til badamer jhuri was powdered white sesame seeds and peanuts with chilly flakes. Very nice to have it just like that. Rate it 4.25/5
Chattogramer kala bhuna was beef curry in chattogram (bangladesh) style. Till date the best beef curry I have ever had was at my friend jamil’s relative’s house at Rajshahi, bangladesh. The first time anything came close to that 10 year old memory of mine was Kala bhuna at mustard!!! Wow.
Super duper curry with sweetness from slow cooked caramelised onions, a ‘fat full’ gravy with robust flavours of meat and spices, soft and perfectly cooked beef pieces – I shamelessly licked off every drop off the plate disregarding what people from other tables wud think if they see me!!! Rate it 4.95/5
Super loved the daal and the spinach with bori (vadi/ lentil dumplings) along with Kala bhuna. The ghee rice / pulao was excellent to taste and had nice flavours. It was 95% optimally cooked.
For dessert we had Pantua. Usually pantua is round in shape but here it was elongated (like a lyangcha). When I go to Kolkata these days I find it hard to get good pantua (different from the ubiquitous gulab jamun). So thought of trying out here. Loved it. It’s exactly the same that I remember from 30 years back when some small neighbourhood shops still used to sell good pantua. Avoidable for those who dislike ‘too sweet’ in their sweet. By definition this dish is unidirectionally sweet. Rate it 4.5/5
Kheer komola was a very interesting dish that I have not had as good in years – almost like home made. Reduced milk with a tad sweetness. Lumpy, unruly, unpredictable bites or slurps (as they may be) ….. rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of Bengali food at mustard averages out to 4.6/5
Wud go to ‘oh Calcutta’ mumbai again only if mustard refuses to give us a seat. Hope mustard management realises that all dinners Can pre planned from a week b4 and hence keep 2-3 tables free for first come first serve unplanned walk ins (here high stools wud b absolutely fine).
Day 1: French dinner
B4 we started our meal, a bread basket was served. Usually restaurants flex their muscle on this one and try to impress. Most breads in the basket were ordinary. The one that stood out relatively was the multi grain one.
We ordered Baked mussels dieppe style, based on recommendation. The Mussel tasted more like prawns than mussel – the texture had got changed, the strong flavour of mussel had been reduced dramatically. Must mention that we r among those beings who enjoy mussels just steamed as well, and hence were looking forward to a strong flavour which most other good baked mussels are able to retain.
If we think of this as a general seafood dish, it tasted good but not great. The crumb on the top also took away a lot of character that the mussel wud hv had. It was distracting in terms of both taste and texture. The dish reminded me of the American popular dishes where most things get bread added to it or deep fried. Rate the dish 3/5
Next dish we had was Oxtail ravioli. Outstanding to taste, intense flavours, super soft ravioli and lovely filling. Oxtail did not scream out – could have been any other good meat. Am specially a fan of oxtail due to its amazing texture but the same got lost in the ravioli. Loved the dish. Rate it 4.5/5
What turned out to be a rockstar that evening was oeufs brouilles a la moutarde – Mustard Scrambled egg. This was the best egg dish I have had in this decade. This was also the best dish I had that evening. The eggs beautifully incorporated the flavours and taste of mustard while remaining creamy, super soft and an indescribably good texture. Young strands of asparagus added to the joy. Rate it 4.75/5
Scallops a la plancha were juicy, soft, flavourful and best in teems of taste and flavours. The pieces of scallops were a bit thinner than the optimum size – I wud hv preferred 3 thicker pieces than 4 thinner ones as that would have been perfect bite size . While munching on a scallop, the bite size and hence how the scallop turns and squished in the mouth gives a different experience.
Home made Aioli (garlic, olive oil and egg yolk) was outstanding – finger licking good. The leek was very enjoyable. Superb in terms of taste and texture. Asparagus was good and crunchy. Overall, a great dish. Rate it 4.25/5.
For mains we had emince de Margret de canard – sliced duck breast. The duck meat was super juicy, was tasty but did not have not as intense meat flavor as we hv had in some of the best places.
Excess salt in the sauce of the dish – clearly an execution error rather than a planning mishap. The apple pieces with their sweet and slightly sour taste balanced the excess salt.
The dish was ‘almost there’ in terms of being excellent but missed out last minute. Rate it 4/5
For dessert we had soufflé glacé a absinthe – an iced soufflé with a lacing of absinthe, Baudelaire , Rimbaud
This tasted more like a watery ice cream with a sprinkling of fennel seeds. The liqueurs did not make their presence felt at all, it was a generally good tasting dessert and hence rate it 3/5.
Drink called mustard was a masterpiece. From the first sip to the last it impressed. Flavours of mustard were incorporated very well. Rate it 4.95/5
The bar chef also made a refreshing tangy mocktail that was very enjoyable. He just took a general brief and churned out something on his own. Excellent. Rate it 4.5/5
Overall rating of French food and beverages at mustard averages out to 4.1/5
Just the food averages out to 3.9/5
Wud less likely visit this restaurant for French food.