Sunday, August 15, 2010
It's about a decade since Five opened on SV Road in Santa Cruz, and in those ten years I've eaten there about a dozen times and never been disappointed. It's one of the few restaurants in Bombay with real atmosphere, a great place for a quiet date or anniversary meal. A few meters away, Yoko's and Dynasty provide factory food to clients who can't get enough of it. Five, on the other hand, though much smaller, usually has tables vacant.
That wasn't the case when we dined there last night. The owners have placed two tables in the patio to augment the eight inside, and even these were occupied by the time we left. Being full, the restaurant was noisier than usual, but we could still converse with ease. My two companions had eaten late in the afternoon and decided to make do with soups and starters. We ordered celery soup, a catalan seafood soup, a seared mushroom, feta and spinach salad, cajun chicken, a braised lamb shank, an order of garlic bread, a Red Bull, a kiwi cranberry daiquiri and a sparkling melon cocktail. The bill, including taxes and service charge, came to just over two grand, which is pretty reasonable by Bombay standards, though obviously way out of reach of the 45% of Indians who earn less than 20 rupees a day (The mind boggles. 20 rupees a day. Surely there's a typo there).
In Bombay, red meat almost always comes from goats, but is called lamb in the fancier places. Since the lamb shank was fattier than goat meat usually is (I didn't mind, the fat was pretty flavourful, and the meat tender, almost falling off the bone), I made enquiries and was told the shank was sheep meat. I didn't ask if the sheep was less than a year old. The mushroom and feta salad came with spinach that had been perfectly sauteed in olive oil. It neither sat limp between cheese and fungus, nor was dry and greasy like the crispy stuff in Chinese restaurants. The Cajun Chicken was the lone letdown, being indistinguishable from Chicken Tikka.