Mumbai’s dessert-bar Monèr is a treat for your eyes and taste buds
After studying at The Culinary Institute of America, working with multiple Michelin-star restaurants in New York, including Chef Daniel Boulud’s three Michelin-star restaurant, and creating fabulous desserts for Tiffany's Blue Box Café, which also made it to Priyanka Chopra’s bridal shower, Chef Freny Fernandes returned home about a year ago. The idea was to open a dessert bar. But, COVID happened. Hoping for the pandemic to get over in a few months, she first worked on a summer menu followed by an autumn menu before finally bringing her winter menu into fruition as she opened the doors to Monèr earlier this month.
A bistro by the day, Bandra-based Monèr swiftly turns into a dessert bar offering three and five-course pleated desserts post 7 o’clock. We took our seat inside the beautiful 33-seater cafe exuberating a blend of French and modern vibe with high ceiling, white walls, minimalistic tables, plush velvet sitting in teal and pink cabana-like structure over the sofas. The walls also have arches, making them appear grandeur.
We took our seat and ordered a couple of small plates before diving in their desserts. The Ricotta Gnudi was served with tomato butter, sage and brown butter. The gnudi, gnocchi-like dumplings but lighter and pillowy, was soft and the gravy was bursting with flavours of tomato and butter. The dish was mildly-spicy, making it one of the highlights of Monèr. The Pork Belly was a delight. Slow-cooked for eight hours, the port literally melted in our mouth. Our only complaint - the tamarind glaze made it slightly sweet. As the name suggests, the Harissa Spiced Chicken was spicy but also very well marinated and roasted.
Moving on to the plated desserts, we indulged ourselves in their five-course meal. The first dish Dawn In The Meadows was Chef Freny's attempt at recreating the grass and dew drops that one could see during the winters. The dish had a green apple and kaffir lime granita, topped with green apple slices, kaffir lime zest, pumpkin seeds, meringue kisses and microgreens. Slightly tangy and refreshing, it was a perfect amuse-bouche to begin the meal. The next dessert was a delight to our eyes and taste buds. Au Revoir, Autumn features a soft and creamy vanilla bean panna cotta, a creamy raspberry sorbet, macerated red fruits, a beautiful raspberry tuile and tiny meringue kisses. Although the sorbet was slightly sweet, when eaten together, with all elements in every bite, it goes very conducively.
The third dish - Walk Through The Woods - took Chef Freny the longest and even gave her some sleepless nights. While she was sure of having a chocolate coulant with chocolate ganache and liquid caramel in the centre, it took her almost a month to figure out how to plate this dessert, an important aspect of a dessert bar. After a lot of experimentation, consultation with her former colleague, Chef Freny decided to add a tuile, a disk and coffee ice-cream and plate it in a way that it conveys a walk through the forest. And, the dessert was perfect to T. Whether it was the coulant or gooey central part of the cake, or the coffee ice cream (made from KC Roaster’s beans), everything was delicious in this dessert. And, while they all went well with each other, each item could be enjoyed independently just as much.
The next one - Phases Of The Moon - features a vanilla sable upon which there were four spherically shaped chocolate ganache balls and an earl grey gelato, representing various phases of the moon, were placed. On the opposite side was a raspberry coulis, representing the red moon. While the gelato was delicious, the dessert overall didn’t work for us as it had a lot of chocolate, all 60% dark chocolate, which while controlling the sweetness level couldn’t kill the monotony that it brought. Probably different chocolate could have helped. Plus, the coulis didn’t go with the dessert.
The final dessert of the night won us over. Jardin Du Rose featured a big red rose shaped parfait in the centre and was surrounded by pistachio baklava, pistachio air cake, chocolate soil, rose caviar and edible flowers. Undoubtedly, it looked splendid. When it comes to the taste, the rose and raspberry parfait had a strong taste of berry but not overwhelming. The tiny pistachio baklavas were good and the fluffy as cloud aircake and chocolate soil added a lot of texture to the dessert.
Want more? It is as Instragrammable as it can get. There is a big wall art themed on la vie en rose and it is the background for your next display photo!
Monèr opens at 11 am. Plated desserts are available post 7 pm and prior reservation is suggested.
Where: Perry Cross Rd, Pali Hill, Bandra, Mumbai
Cost: Rs 2000 plus taxes for two
Our recommendation: Gnudi Ricotta, Walk Through The Woods and Jardin Du Rose