Inside Masque, Mahalaxmi | New Opening
It’s not an easy task to find Masque even with your map app on. Once inside Laxmi Mills, you’ll have to drive past Blue Tokai to see that there’s no board in front of its black matte exterior, lit in muted orange light. It’s an unassuming, discreet place from the outside, barely whispering its presence to those who visit for the first time.
On offer at Masque are three tasting menus. You can pick between a 6-course menu and the Masque Experience Menu, which runs 10 courses long. To get a quicker sense of the food, you can also pick 3 courses from the 6-course menu, although that’s a disservice to effort and attention that goes into each bite here.
We picked the 10-course Masque Experience meal and sat back in our comfortable chairs. The ambience is one of effortless, understated luxury. White marble floors blend with warm light, and a sculpture by Rathin Burman sets the tone for something this restaurant is doing: modernising Mumbai’s mill land.
The meal begins with pumpkin chips served in a log, as we wonder what the meal will be like, as the minimal menu lacks any descriptions or detail. Social media has been quiet with images as well.
The first course is a Tomato Tart, a delightful half portion on a bed of rustic, fresh pesto. Micro greens gently sit atop baby tomatoes in delicate shades of red, and the first bite itself lets you hear the farm-sourced ingredients do all the talking. In another era, this would be a simple dish. In our times, it’s bold to see a tomato taste like one of the finest tomatoes one can eat.
The meal moves swiftly, as we receive the fragrance from a Corn | Mole before we see it. Wrapped in corn husk, this finger-sized portion can quickly take one back to childhood, when corn was rustic instead of processed. Every bite has a refreshingly natural flavour, tasting like a monsoon treat from memory instead of a well-prepared, simple corn dish.
Our next two courses are made from ingredients from the Himalayas and Gujarat respectively. A warm sourdough with generous slices is prepared from mountainous rye comes wrapped in elegant grey cloth, accompanied with Goat Milk Butter. The Himalayan Rye | Goat Milk Butter is a hearty treat for its texture and temperature. The Gujarati-origin Lobster | Smoked Potato is a two-part delight, with the potatoes charred in a pit for 6 hours to taste like the smokey wonder of starch it is. The Lobster is exceptionally well prepped, and acts as a gently flavoured foil to the intense taste from the pit-charred potatoes.
The Kale | Burrata arrives next, which is a tricky dish at the best of times. Mumbai has had precious little luck with burrata, which falls flat when it isn’t fresh. However, this portion is nothing like that. The cheese is gentle, salty, and supple. A sprinkling of thin and circular sliced apples props this dish up from the sourness from the kale, making it a delicious medley of soft and crunchy textures.
The Japanese preparation of Pork Neck on a traditional, light pancake topped with a subtly sweet Okonomiyaki sauce is near-perfect, as Chef Prateek encourages us to eat it with our hands. It’s hard to imagine a juicier, more sublime portion of pig through the muffled appreciative nods on our table.
After a barrage of flavours, we receive respite in course number 7 from a Passion Fruit Sorbet, simply called Passionfruit on the menu. The colourful palate cleanser comes inside the fruit, placed in a bowl of ice. On taking off the top, you’ll see Rhodendron and Begonia petals contrasting with the cold yellow base. The textures from these also provide some exciting range with the subtle restraint on the bold flavour of passion fruit.
Another plate comes along, this time as Lamb | Purple Maize. A barely there reduction complements the meat’s primal flavour, something done rarely in our masala and sauce-centric restaurant landscape.
The menu is generous with dessert, occupying 3 courses. We begin the end of our meal with a Peach | Almond. The fruity ice cream is clinically measured and creamy, plated in elegant layers with the almond cookie and folded pieces of fresh fruit, all atop almond crumbs.
Buckwheat | Pondicherry Chocolate is a more nuanced dish than most, with assorted nuts, a cake infused with olive oil, and a bold cocoa taste. What’s admirable about this dish is the balance of this diverse group of flavours, something we’d imagine a lesser chef wouldn’t be able to pull off.
The evening ends with an Orange Doughnut, which is smaller than our palms. Instead of a topping, the citrus flavour is inside the bread. One bite later, it oozes out from a bread of gentle warmth, completely charming one’s tongue right at the end of a consistently wondrous meal.
Masque’s food follows the farm-to-fork concept, which is slowly catching the fancy of the country’s restaurateurs and select, experimental diners. Everything here is sourced from specialized farms across the country, handpicked by Chef Prateek Sadhu and owner Aditi Dugar as they travelled the country for a year before the restaurant opened. The pride in their ingredients is central to the experience, as every course is served with a small chat about their origins.
The restaurant is definitely a classy, bold step in making Mumbai’s food taste refreshing in a marvellous environment with a produce and chef-driven approach. We’d visit again in a heartbeat.
Mumbai Foodie visited Masque as guests of the restaurant.