Hope all of you are feeling awesome as always.As the restaurant opens its doors today, I thought of writing this post a night before their big day, to help you improve your first culinary experience at Mumbai’s newest and coolest vegetarian Lebanese restaurant – Ithaka.
Situated bang opposite Phoenix Mills (parking gate) at Lower Parel, Ithaka is a quaint little small-sized spot which promisingly aspires to serve vegetarians in Mumbai, especially the southern region of the city, where majority of Gujaratis & Jains stay even today. Their special preview menu for bloggers and critics in the city included dishes like Mushroom Cappuccino, Turkish Kebabs and our sweet old favourite – Baklava.
When the soups were served, we were quite impressed with the choice of cutlery and attention to detail for pleasant presentation. The Lemon Grass Soup was homely and comforting, but apart from the subtle flavours of lemon grass, it wasn’t more than any ordinary vegetable broth. On the contrary, their Mushroom Cappuccino was a spectacular creation!
The earthy concoction was deliciously frothy, creamy, intense and it was served at the perfect level of tolerant temperature to qualify as comforting. The tiny mushroom pieces in the soup added more fun to the entire eating experience. Avoiding the lemon grass soup and remembering to try their deservingly popular mushroom cappuccino, is advisable.
Sometimes the simplest of recipes can create the most complex of tasting experiences. Batata Harra at Ithaka is nothing more than grilled potatoes tossed and flavoured with garlic and coriander, but it needed nothing more to satisfy our palates. The potatoes were perfectly cooked and the flavour of garlic and coriander turned every bite of this appetising dish worth savouring. If you love potatoes, this dish will most definitely tantalise your taste buds.
Perfectly bite-sized, hot and crispy squares of zucchini were coated with sesame and topped with veggies – just before it was presented beautifully on a curvy ceramic plate. The dish was not unacceptably oily and the crunch supported the combination of flavours well. Except the ridiculously small portion size (4 squares), everything else about this dish was satisfactory.
Soft and succulent Turkish Kebabs made with makai, methi & malai were served with some pungent green mustard sauce that complimented its partial blandness successfully. Those dreamy kebabs were so soft that they disappeared in our mouths immediately after we bit into it! Soulfully satisfying! If you like kebabs, please don’t forget to order for this elegantly delicious dish.
A tangy combination of crunchy water chestnuts and sour shreds of raw mango with chopped red chillies made this salad feel wanted by us, but the monotonic taste turned it boring after the fourth bite. The water chestnuts and raw mango were fresh and the presentation was remarkable too; but in our humble opinion, this salad was over-seasoned and overall, it felt intolerably incomplete. We’ve definitely tried better raw mango salads in various other restaurants in the city.
As the name suggests, we were expecting to eat falafels in a different avatar and that’s exactly what was served to us. Flavourful falafel balls tossed in the wok with peppers, dark soy and chillies made us forget classic creations like Paneer Chili. The dryness of falafel was complimented well with juicy peppers and putting our forks down while this dish was on our table, took plenty of resistance. We highly recommend this dish to all you foodies out there; try it as soon as you can!
Since we were at a Lebanese restaurant, we were expecting the hummus to be nothing less than extraordinary. What we eventually got was a delightfully rich and smooth chickpea puree cooked with sesame paste, garlic and olive oil. Their melt-in-the-mouth smooth hummus was served with hot and crusty pita bread. Honestly, the hummus and the pita, both, were better than we expected; so leaving without trying hummus at Ithaka, might leave your culinary experience incomplete.
Traditional hummus mixed with pesto and garlic, for those who love the best of both worlds! The flavour of pesto was just right, not too less and not too overpowering either. The explosion of smooth hummus followed by the intense flavours of basil and garlic, kept us hooked till we wiped our bowl clean with the last piece of pita. If you’re usually not in the mood to try traditional or conventional creations, giving this a try would be highly recommendable.
Crispy pita base topped with ground sumac, dried thyme, dried oregano, toasted sesame, coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil was a lot of fun to eat with our non-alcoholic mocktails. Simple and effective attempt by the chef who undoubtedly succeeded in impressing us with pulling off the perfect balance of flavours with this one. Sadly, Ithaka does not serve alcohol, so you’re going to miss having a drink in your hand while you munch on their Zattar Pita Pizza.
Deliciously creamy rice made with the perfect combination of chickpeas, vegetables and spicy tomato sauce – there was nothing to dislike about this dish! The rice was not undercooked and the combination of flavours represented the thoughtfulness and expertise of their chef. I would’ve preferred more vegetables and spiciness but this opinion of mine can be considered as pure subjectiveness.
Before tasting this bizarrely creative looking dish, our waiter told us it is one of their chef’s specialities. The cream in this dish surprisingly didn’t make it extremely heavy to eat, but the flavours were subtle, however not negligible or almost non-existing. Surrounded by cute little mini pita breads, Creamy Broccoli Rice is definitely worth trying and is something you’ll probably crave during a rainy day or a cold night.
I have not bothered writing about their baklava in this review as what was served to us, seemed like broken pieces out of a box of ready-made sweets. So don’t order Baklava at Ithaka unless you’re okay with feeling cheated for your money.