Showman Chef Comes to Town
Chef Sabyasachi Gorai needs no introduction. Maverick chef associated with success stories, such as those of Olive Bistro and SodaBottleOpenerWalla , TV show host and now a foodpreneur, with his immensely successful restaurant Lavaash in Mehrauli, he is one helluva trending guy in the F&B industry, even having won a President’s gold medal as best chef.
So, when you are invited to meet him at the newly-opened Frio Bistro in Ga, where he is consultant chef, (he has a brand consultancy company called Fabrica) you drop everything and just be there. True to his hands-on, energetic TV show (urban Cook) avatar, I find Chef Saby as he is more popularly referred to as, in an apron and helming the action in the kitchen.
Saby played us the gracious host to the hilt, ensuring that we are comfortable serving us refreshing shooters of Gachibowli Gazpacho, that Spanish cool tomato-bell pepper-cucumber soup, with an interesting twist ( a wee bit of sambar masala!) served as an amuse bouche, along with some brilliantly crisp garlic bread, redolent of a dusting of peri peri chilli, just amazing and I am hooked, already!
That done, we munch on some thin crust pizza (fresh dough used only, informs chef), one with a topping of rather spicy but tasty chicken tikka and the other is a vegetarian artichokes thingie.
Seema Andhra prawns occupied centrestage next and for all the right reasons, the concept, plating and its execution, perfect! Grilled prawns inspired by seafood fron the Andhra coast and the Hyderabadi mirchi ka salan (was part of the accompanying dipping sauce) this one was a winner, all the way!
Chef Saby not only personally serves us but regales us with some useful information on the food and beverage industry, the need for cleaning up of its act, especially in India, be it growing fruits and vegetables organically or harnessing cooking oils, like mustard, sunflower and canola. In the same vein, he mentions how basa fish is doing an overkill in Indian restaurant kitchens.
Fish and chips is next and I love the fluffy, beer-batter fried fish (tilapia, no basa nonsense here) and the lovely crisp fat potato wedges. Saby talks to us about his roots in Asansol, a small dusty mining township in West Bengal and how the Armenians had colonised it some 200 years back, with some Armenian families still residing there. Lavaash by Saby in Gurgaon was conceptualised in 2015 as a tribute to the Armenian food legacy of lavaash or bread and has rare Armenian food.
In main courses, we are served Glazed Pork Ribs (which I skip as I am trying to avoid heavy duty red meat), Signature Truffled Mushroom Risotto (now this is a risotto worth talking about!), Podi crusted Grilled Fish with Yellow Curry Risotto followed by Hyderabad on a Plate, peanut-spice crusted confit chicken legs plated with curd rice risotto.
Okay, I would like to mention the truffle risotto as the most superlative, rightly deserving its signature tag on the menu, as it was quite simply divine. Not a drop of cheese or cream, the risotto was just perfectly creamy with the risotto coarse texture intact and the flavours of the truffle mushroom doing wondrous things to the whole dish. This is a recommended must try!
Next in my order of preferences was surely the Podi crusted fish, with a yellow curry risotto, which was again quite good. The fish came with a nice kaaram masala coating and garnished with a healthy green sprig of curry leaves and dried red chilli, and the risotto had a pan Asian sensibility to it, all of which went to make a pretty much interesting dish. Nice!
However, I could not somehow take a shine to the curd rice risotto, some things, I guess are best left in their classic form, for I wouldnt want to eat curd rice which had a chewy, uncooked texture, though the chicken legs were competently done.
Time for desserts, and Saby’s ability to stun one’s creative senses does not fail yet again. While we are served an assorted platter of their in-house specials, I would like to speak first of the absolutely brilliant Irani Chai Creme Custard inspired by Irani chai cafes in Hyderabad. The color and taste of the custard which I tried tentatively (quite frankly, no stomach left, alas!) was close to the Irani chai one sips out of chipped tea cups at Irani cafes. The Osmania biscuit crumble, son papdi flakes were the icing on the cake, umm custard!
The assorted desserts platter consisting of cherry chocolate cheescake, Frio’s signature tiramisu (magnifique!) and Khubani ka meetha pie also impresses, but not anywhere close to the Irani chai delight.
In the end, it was an afternoon which will remain memorable for ever, as one could get a glimpse to a rare personality who is part chef, part entrepreneur, part historian and part organic food grower. Chef Saby rightly deserves every bit of the food world’s critical acclaim.