They once wowed us with their super location, pulsating ambiance and much-loved food. Both Opa at Juhu, that dished out some stellar Greek-inspired fare, and Zenzi Mills, the Lower Parel branch of Zenzi that was legendary for its China Box Fried Rice and sashimi, suddenly shut shop one gloomy day. But like the mythical Phoenix, both have now been resurrected from the ‘dead-restaurant graveyard’, but under different names and under different managements. I decided to visit each of them for lunch and here’s what I think about the ‘Replacement Restaurants’ that now go by the names of Trifecta and Zaffran respectively.
In its new avatar as a multi-cuisine restaurant, Trifecta brings under its roomy awnings a trio of ‘cuisines’—Indian, Pan Asian and Continental. Now, we all know that each of these so-called cuisines can be further subdivided into myriad others. And that’s just what Trifecta’s tome-like menu reflects. Read: a huge selection of dishes with distinctive yet classic twists on everything from starters to mains. The décor hasn’t changed much from its days as Opa with the same high wooden ceilings and comfortable coir rope backed chairs with large tables and couches that form the private banquet alcoves. The outdoor al fresco area is perfect for sundowners as you watch Juhu’s swish set… well, swish by!
The well-trained staff make great recommendations and are thankfully unobstructive and courteous to a fault. As for the food, let’s just say that you may need to visit the place at least three times to try it all. I loved the coconut-y velvet feel of the Chicken Laksa that was flavoursome and applause-worthy. The innovative Thai-style Cloud Fish was a light and surprisingly filling appetizer that had just the right hit of the famed (and dreaded!) Thai Bird-eye chilli. Succulent, moist and fall-off-the-bone tender is the best way to describe the Pork Spare Ribs that you have a choice of sauce to go with. I chose the sticky Chinese Hoisin Sauce and I still thank myself for that choice. Sublime.
More attention needs to be given to that misnomer called ‘continental cuisine’. The Seafood Bisque that I tried was as close to a bisque as Faridabad is to France. And I did find the seafood in it to be a tad un-fresh, though I’ve obviously survived to tell the tale! Also the meager dessert selection is so woefully inadequate (just four boring offerings like cheesecake and its sad sibling mousse cake!) that it doesn’t even feature on the main menu and was read out to me, extempore by the captain.
Rs 2,000 for two without alcohol.
Royal Garden Hotel, Lobby Level, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu
Contact: 022-66919800, 67699999
As one of Mumbai’s much loved restaurants legendary for their exemplary North Indian cuisine, we have seen Zaffran (originally started at Crawford Market in 2003) spawning different branches every year like some sort of horny fruit fly! This newest branch that opened at Todi Mills, Lower Parel a few weeks ago is the poshest offspring. The main dining area flanking two cozy PDRs (private dining rooms) at the ground level has an understated regal aura with water bodies and cozy alcoves, reminiscent of an unfurling saffron (Zaffran-saffron… get it?) bud. The upper level has a more lounge-y vibe to it with its plush Bedouin inspired interiors with mashaal lamps lighting up the intricate filigreed screens and shamianas.
Be prepared for a truly royal dining experience here. Zaffran puts on a spectacular culinary performance that you hope never ends. Co-owner and chef, Chetan Sethi’s signature dishes can be seen in this newest branch as well in all their glory. Right from the buttery soft Paneer Makhni (Zaffran always makes me renew my relationship with cottage cheese, which I generally detest!) to the signature Naanlets, Vegetable Galouti Kebab, Aloo Tuk Chaat, the now famous Galouti Kebabs, Butter Chicken, and Zaffran-e-raan, I was taken on a magic carpet ride through the wonders of our rich and diverse heritage of North Indian cuisine. A few new innovations too find themselves on the menu, especially in the cocktails section. I recommend you try the ‘face-puckeringly’ sour and flavourful Kala Khatta Margarita and its accomplice the Kachi Kairi Margarita that are perfect foils to the food.
Diametrically opposite to that of Trifecta’s are the constantly hovering (and saccharine sweet), annoyingly pesky staff who don’t leave your table’s side for even a minute and literally jump into action if you so much as lift a serving spoon to help yourself. But then that’s probably just me who hates being waited on hand and foot. Also, make sure to carry enough antacid for your post Zaffran tryst. Trust me; you’ll need it as the food can be a wee bit spicy. But again, that is wont of most restaurants of Zaffran’s ilk.
Rs 2,500 for two without alcohol.
Mathuradas Mill Compound, Opp. Blue Frog, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
Pics courtesy: Trifecta and Zaffran