Gourmet Guide: What’s Cooking At The Clearing House
What’s in a name? A respect for your surroundings. A regard for the ethos of the city. Admiration for heritage. The Clearing House at Mumbai’s Ballard Estate gives a nod to all of these. The fine-dining restaurant pays homage to the area’s tree-lined streets and the fact that historically this was the hub of the city’s shipping businesses and clearing houses.
Located in an ice factory that remains operational in another section, the 4,000-square-foot space is divided into two very distinct parts, the Foyer and the Chamber. The former, open for lunch and dinner, has a cheerful, checkered flooring with large arched windows and a sky-light that reveals the original chimney – a perfect place for lunch. The latter, open only for dinner, is situated in the factory’s former machine room with the original iron roof that, in British days, supported an enormous water tank. An ancient pulley system remains in evidence in the room that otherwise exudes sophisticated opulence. Both spaces have their own bar area.
Executive chef Nitin Kulkarni, of the original Indigo team, needs no introduction to city gourmands. So, if the menu seems a little bit like his original, who can afford to complain! Divided into Small Plates and Large Plates, the former makes up the bulk of the offerings. There is a vast selection for vegetarians as well. We start with prawn dim sums which appear in a light broth with a subtle refreshing lemongrass flavour. The fresh Kerala oysters on ice are delicious and indeed fresh with the unmistakable taste of the sea. My favourite is the mini lobster brioche, reminiscent of New York’s scrumptious lobster rolls. The brioche has just that touch of sweetness that complements the perfectly cooked lobster in wasabi mayo as well as the flavourful shot of lobster bisque that accompanies it.
For the mains, we choose the miso glazed black cod served in a flavourful tentsuyu broth which is wonderful if you like your fish sweet, which I do in this case. The baby carrots add a welcome crunch. Next up we have the fettuccine Genovese, a dish that I enjoy for its simplicity. The homemade pasta is cooked al dente though the green beans that accompany it tended to be chewy rather than crunchy. Contemporary, international and uncomplicated flavours rule.
Pastry chef Husna Jumani’s desserts are a treat. I ask for her favourites and she serves two, both excellent. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich incorporates the flavours of peanut butter and chocolate and the textures of ice cream and brownies. It’s earthy, familiar and yet unexpected. The honey flan arrives looking gorgeous. Fresh figs, sour cherries and golden honeycomb form more than a garnish and the drizzle of balsamic reduction adds just that bit of balance to the whole.