Award-winning concept restaurant from Goa, Mustard, comes to Chennai with a novel menu that blends French and Bengali flavours 

This is not fusion, owner Punam Singh clarifies. Instead  expect to see Grilled Fish with an indulgent mustard hollandaise plated side by side with Macher Paturi...
A glimpse of the interiors at Mustard, Pharos Hotel
A glimpse of the interiors at Mustard, Pharos Hotel

French and Bengali flavours weave together in the most unexpected symphony of flavour at Mustard, which opens its doors at the Pharos Hotel on Sterling Road today. The award-winning concept restaurant first opened in Goa back in 2015 when owners Punam Singh and Shilpa Sharma, had the vision to reconnect with regional flavours getting lost in the buzz of pop culture, by taking an unchartered route. “We were brainstorming one day thinking about Bengali food and how it is eaten course by course, just like a French meal  progresses traditionally. And this led to connecting other dots like the French East India company setting up in Bengal back in the 1600s and how both cultures have a love for art, music and literature... ” recalls Punam. And so the idea began to take form of a menu with heirloom recipes from two very distinct worlds. “This is not fusion,” Punam establishes from the get-go.

<em>Apricot spritz</em>
Apricot spritz
<em>Grilled Fish with a mustard hollandaise</em>
Grilled Fish with a mustard hollandaise

Mustard medley
Instead Grilled Fish with an indulgent mustard hollandaise plated side by side with Macher Paturibhetki marinated in an earthy mustard paste and slow roasted in a banana leaf sets the tone for an NRI marriage you never quite saw coming. But somehow, compatibility is effortless. We have to credit chef Gregory Bazire from Normandy and renowned chef and food historian Pritha Sen, who have curated the menu, for this.

And the template doesn’t separate the cuisines either — like the Cocktail Luchi Bites that follow a Polenta Stack with Cheese Gratin or the Banana Blossom Kebab in the same section as a Beetroot Carpaccio. Décor accents of the 100-seater restaurant and bar follow a similar narrative, with sketches from a Puducherry artist placed alongside a Kantha weave, traditional to Bengal on a heavy-set ceramic canvas. We also spot a map framed on the wall of the French invaded section of Bengal, which is a mini history lesson you can explore while waiting for your order or in our case, deciding whether to sit outdoors by the pool or inside with the AC. In the midst of a Chennai summer, there is no need to guess which one we picked. Mixologist Yuri’s Espresso Martini is a delightful pick-me-up as well.

<em>Midnight express</em>
Midnight express
<em>Kolmi Kasundi</em> Baked Crab
Kolmi Kasundi Baked Crab

Chasing crabs
Meanwhile, Punam tells us there is already menu prep, for a monsoon festival slated for July. “We do plenty of festivals and fish lovers can look forward to hilsa when it is in season,” she shares, as a platter of Kolmi Kasundi Baked Crab is placed before us. We have to blow this one a French kiss, that crab meat is so soft and flavourful. Another winner is the Red Wine Caramelised Lamb Compressed served with baby carrots and a smooth potato mash. We wrap up with the most satisfying ASMR crack of a torched Creme Brûlée. Heaven is dessert, as any Bengali or Frenchman would agree. And while we find everything from Chocolate Ganache to Gokul Pitha here, we are a little sad that the humble rasagulla has been given a miss.

Meal for two at INR 2,500, excluding beverages.

Off the shelf
With breads, cookies, chutneys and pickles being made in-house, you can also find plenty of bakes and condiments for home. Look out for sourdough, brioche and pain au chocolate. Given the name of the restaurant, there is also a separate section dedicate to just mustard - with creations that range from a classic Kasundi to flavour experiments with chilli-rosemary and pesto.

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