With its sleek booths, wall-to-wall windows, plush carpeting, and pristinely robed tables, this elegant oasis in the Taj Hotel is as formal and traditional as one would expect. An odd mix of gourmands and hotel guests keep the vibe desultory inside, but by greeting each diner as they enter, the staff maintains a sense of refinery that is true to this contemporary Cal-Indian menu. The full talent of this kitchen is showcased at dinner. Courses, which arrive on charcoal-glazed ceramics, allude to Indian spices but honor outstanding skill and taste over drama or novelty. Lighter dishes cover all bases of flavor and texture as witnessed in a modern expression of chaat (carrots, peas, and tamarind tossed in "whey shorva" dotted with chutney); or spicy, pan-fried potato-corn tikkis lodged atop a bright salad of plum brunoise and cilantro. Dollops of tangy lime curd expertly complete this sublime, seasonal plate, while charred potatoes and leeks accentuate a decadent butter-poached Maine lobster. Just as slow-cooked meat dishes have an elegant undertone of garam masala, for dessert, tandoori strawberries with lemon ice cream may under-promise on paper but will over-deliver on taste and flavor.
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