Phone: 022 68493448
Address: Taj Santacruz Hotel, Domestic Terminal 1B, Luxury Arcade, Vile Parle East, Mumbai, Maharashtra India
Time: 12 Noon – 2 AM
Meals for two: Rs. 4,000
Cuisines: Lebanese, North Indian, Iranian
Facilities: Full Bar Available, Dance Floor, Nightlife, Serves Cocktails, Live Entertainment, Valet Parking Available, Indoor Seating, Table booking recommended, Smoking Area
Never mind what Shakespeare said about “Whats in a name?” Sometimes, it’s the name itself which magnetizes. Mashhad, named after the second most populous city of Iran, opened up in Santacruz and had us dashing there to check it out. It claims to serve Lebanese, Persian and Indian fare. And I requested a trio of dapper and sporting foodies to go ahead and start ordering to enable us to accurately check out the service and the food. These three friends travel to eat (and were just back from Barcelona). Aptly enough, Vishwa Naik is Muscat born, loves Lebanese food, knows it really well and finds it as satisfying as Indian.
Ali Kader studied in London and then Atlanta and has dined his way through 60 countries.
Aazaish Bhanji, having dined at superlative restaurants for seven years in London while studying finance and economics, loves Korean and is known for his steak grilling prowess. They very sportingly went ahead and ordered the food only to find that the service was dismal, but improved when I landed up in the restaurant.
Mashhad, Vile Parle East, Mumbai: Decor
You have to walk through miles of corridors of the Taj Santacruz to get to Mashhad. Elbow your way through wedding receptions and what nots. No! Mashhad is not a part of the hotel but a stand-alone restaurant. It’s dark green velvet and cream sofas, marble flooring and woodclad walls shimmer under a chandelier. A well-stocked bar and space for a dance floor is bathed in psychedelic lights.
Mashhad, Vile Parle East, Mumbai: Food
Our meal takes off on a good start and then begins to nose dive. We wade through exotic sounding dishes — Asheh kado halvai dizi, kufteh tabrezi and so on. After eating our way through the menu, its only three Middle Eastern dishes that pass muster. The mezze with a choice of fattoush, baba ghanous, hummus shanklish, mohammara labneh d toum served with pita bread delivers the perfect combination of flavor and texture. The chellou kabab hits the sweet spot; it’s plump, mildly spicy and mellow with rice. Badam jaan moist and juicy aubergine is yet another winner.
It’s the Indian kababs that are well-marinated and succulent. Coming up tops is the butter chicken with just that right spike of Kasturi methi and the jousting of sweet and spicy notes.
Mashhad, Vile Parle East, Mumbai: Minus Points
The location, which necessitates walking through the crowded corridors of the Taj (especially during the wedding season), is a pain. As is walking out of the restaurant to go to the restroom. Steer clear of the seafood; it’s overcooked and chewy. Jujeh kabab is flabby and infused with Indian spices and flavor. Many a dish not available (no baklava and no gulab jamun). Pomegranate hot juice with nuts is over the top sweet. And the colored lights and music and slideshow make it an uncomfy dining experience.
Priced on the higher side, the starters average Rs. 800 while the main course goes to Rs. 1100 each.
Two visits: One on a weekend night with loud music, colored lights and a slideshow, and the other on a weekday, sans music and sans diners, too. Though the concept of Persian, Middle Eastern cuisines is loaded with promise, it begins and ends with the exotic dish names. Except for a couple of Middle Eastern dishes, the rest fall flat. Many have Indian overtones. Although not exceptional, it’s the Indian dishes that are the ones worth trying. The seasoning of the Middle Eastern dishes at Mashhad tip over into the chaotic and need to be executed with precision to be authentic. Hopefully, Mashhad will get its act together and live up to its name.