The Pier - The Errors at Pier

How bad can a restaurant be? The Pier in Mumbai, which charges quite a bit, tells you how

By: Karishma Suri

Posted on: May 15, 2013

How bad can a restaurant be? The Pier in Mumbai, which charges quite a bit, tells you how.

You will remember the renowned Prive and Tetsuma, but it is quite possible that you may overlook the latest entry to Colaba’s entertainment map – The Pier. Positioned as a comfort gourmet diner offering European cuisine, it’s more of an uncomfortable experience that will surround you like a halo during your visit. The restaurant being in close proximity to the sea and yachts explains the reason for the name ‘The Pier’.

If you were to judge this book by its cover, your thoughts would actually be quite wrong, because the place actually manages to please (even though everything else absolutely doesn’t). It attempts to ape an actual pier with a soothing blue and brown colour combination. The 3000 sq. ft. restaurant seats 70 guests which includes a private dining area that is structured to offer the perfect amount of privacy without cutting you out from the perfect ambiance outside.

Upon entering, one is welcomed by a tall wooden door, which leads you to a vibrant yet soothing setting of blue tapestry and brown wooden interiors, which brings to mind an oceanic look, while the dash of gold on the wall brings about an elegant feeling. The impressive 45 foot long bar takes up one entire side of the restaurant, and has its base covered in frosted glass with LED lighting, serving the finest beverages with music that is peppy to give it an upscale but casual look.

The seating is a balanced mixture of sofas that offer a casual and relaxed setting for a leisurely meal as well as tables and chairs offering a more formal setting for those choosing to have a quick bite. Hitting every other nail on the head except the main ones like service and food, the restaurant needs quite a lot of brushing up, but we are certain that it’s a keeper once all the issues are solved. What we liked? Good ambience, great bar and an even better location. What we didn’t? The list goes on.

Take the lead

After announcing yourself (be very clear about specifying who you are or you may be faced with an identity crisis situation on your hands) you will feel that a robot leads you to a table as you take your seat and take a look around at the staff who will look everywhere else but at you. The menu you are handed over is a simple laminated card that you can flip over to browse through their menu and drinks. It’s easy to browse through and is absolutely no-fuss, but the food variety falls short.

The beverage selection includes over 50 wines and an extensive list of single malts, whiskies, vodkas, cocktails and more that have been carefully selected to complement the cuisine and enhance your mood (most definitely). The Pier’s menu comprises of a list of specially created cocktails labelled ‘The Pier Mixology’ that are exotic, refreshing and rich in flavour. The signature cocktails are an eclectic combination of premium spirits and ingredients such as Chai Tini, Cucumber Some, Watermelon & Kafir Lime, Pier Berries and more fruity goodness prepared by their bartenders. A feather in this restaurant’s cap, the bar is led by good mixologists and a bar director who sure know what they are doing. Overshadowing all this praise, is the carelessness of the staff that will get you what they want you to drink, not the other way around.

After a quick conversation with our waiter, we learnt that the Pier Berries (rum, fresh berries, lime juice and sugar syrup) and the Pier Flip (dark rum, triple sec, fresh cream. egg yolk and sugar syrup) comes highly recommended by the team. Keep in mind that the Pier Flip contains egg yolk, and thus most vegetarians or those allergic to it will want to steer away from it. After acknowledging the fact that you are allergic to egg yolk, and that the drink could be made without it, don’t be surprised if that very drink is perched in front of you with a sheer mumble of the identity of the drink. Your safest bet is to ask again what the drink is. We were served the Pier Flip with egg yolk after specifying we have an allergy to egg yolk, and the waiter was confused to say the least as to what he had served us. After requesting a confirmation, it was actually the taboo drink WITH the egg yolk. The waiter justified by stating it was ‘just a drop’ of egg yolk so it should be okay. What happened to taking food allergies seriously?

Once the initial shock dies down, you will actually adore the Pier Berries for its fruity and refreshing element. The drinks here are quite potent, 30-40 ml for a small glass, so drink slowly as there is no nightclub next door anymore for you to dance the night away in happy spirits! The Pier Beauty (strawberry liquer, fresh strawberry, sparkles) is as beautiful as its name, and is a classy though sweet feminine drink in a sassy glass, that adds to the persona of the strawberry sweet drink. Lesson learnt? The team is overconfident of themselves and will promise you that every concoction at the bar is great - while true – enunciate your preference very clearly and double check before you enjoy the best drinks you can get in the city. Nibble on some warm breads (and spectacular at that) with three variants of butter (garlic, plain and herbed) while you enjoy your drink to substantiate the alcohol content in it. Don’t miss the onion focaccia – it’s simply wow.

And then some more

Coming to the food part of it, we think that the restaurant has some teething issues (being only a month old) so don’t judge the food too harshly. It is possible that the food you get will be cold, lacking salt or that your waiter knows less than you (if that’s even possible). Chances are that your waiter is reading the menu for the first time, as are you. Asking the team for some suggestions is a pointless attempt as they will stare at you blankly or randomly point at items on the menu with an occasional ‘this’, ‘this you can try’, ‘umm hmm’. The mystery of the ‘this’ is yet to be solved as you will eventually go with your intuition as to what to eat.

I went for the Stuffed Portobello with cheese and broccoli pesto which, firstly, was ice cold and thus the taste fell flat. Don’t bother sharing your concern with your waiter as he will simply nod his head and leave you to your cold and very chewy appetiser without promptly heating it up if not preparing a fresh one. Quite tempting was the Edamame beans and gruyere cheese stuffed ravioli, but after a quick argument with your waiter on how and what gruyere is, all you will learn is that it’s ‘cheese’ and I promise you will not want to sample the innovative ravioli. Non-vegetarians can maybe try the Sesame seeds rubbed rare tuna with water cress and watermelon along with pickle ginger dressing, or actually maybe not. Earning marks for innovativeness, the dish falls flat overall, because of the ignorance of the staff with regard to what they are serving you (they will call the watermelon garlic and ginger balls) or because of the taste too (the tuna has a strange smell), but you will find yourself appreciating the flavours of the tuna off-setted with sesame seeds.

After all these issues, it comes as no surprise that your meal will be a quick affair. For the mains I had the Wild mushroom risotto which has oyster mushrooms in it (so keep in mind that they are a chewy variant) and have a parmesan cheese drizzle served around the risotto (all of which your server will be unaware of ). Lacking salt and any flavour whatsoever, I would not recommend it. What makes it more uncertain is that no one knows what is plated before you.

An absolute no-no is the Cajun marinated grilled cottage cheese with saffron sauce (and summer vegetables with an olive mash – the staff has no idea what summer vegetables you will get) which has a disgusting smell (reminiscent of acetone) and even the olive mash fails to earn any marks. My companion had the Sumac marinated grilled prawns with saffron risotto which fell flat on all grounds. Excessively oily to say the least, the saffron risotto too was also tasteless. It is served with a soya and sesame dressing which you have to figure out on your own as the waiter knew nothing about it, as was he clueless about what ‘sumac’ is (they are just ‘spices’ according to the chef but your waiter will echo what you ask - sumac is sumac). The herb crusted snapper with lemon caper with sundried tomato butter, broccoli mash and honey mustard baby carrots, unfortunately, only sounded exciting on paper, but failed to perform on the plate.

Last but not the least
The restaurant offers desserts like Crème Brulee, Cappucino Souffle, mud cake and tiramisu. But if you have a taste for fine desserts then you will be wise and just go for the cappuccino soufflé and avoid everything else. It comes with a Kahlua sauce (again your waiter will not inform you as to how it is to be eaten), but break the soufflé open and pour the sauce in. The Tiramisu is something you will want to steer away from too, because neither the owner nor chef also touched it and agreed that it wasn’t ‘up to the mark’. Any more surprises up their sleeve? I for one hope not!

Coordinates: 41/42, Minoo Desai Marg, Behind Radio Club, Colaba, Mumbai

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