Sometimes, I wonder what makes us go to a pub or a fine-dine restaurant. Obviously, not to pay a higher price for the usual food and drinks. Perhaps, we go expecting better taste and ambience. The present fab is molecular food. But, the trend that is mostly catching up with many pubs is to serve liquid nitrogen induced food. There is a thin line of difference between spoiling a dish and adding zing to it with molecular gastronomy. One of the emerging pubs in Delhi NCR is Molecule Air Bar in Sector 29 Gurgaon. And they have put up a good show with their fusion molecular food, but there is always scope to be a tad better, and even the best of restaurants and chefs would agree with it.
I haven’t had the fortune to visit Molecule before, but I have always heard good things about it, so I was upbeat about visiting the place. A glance through the menu clearly reflects that the food is more than usual. The occasion was the launch of Molecule’s new menu, and one of the owners Sahil Sammbhi was personally on the floor, interacting with the food writers and guests. I appreciate that quality of Sahil, not because it would help the pub to get good reviews, but it offers a peek into the mind of the guests. Because, getting feedback forms filled by customers is the last thing that pubs should do, when you know that the guests could probably be two-three or even more drinks down. Speaking to guests is a most spontaneous way to get feedback, provided the DJ keeps a check on the decibels.
My culinary journey at Molecule started with an ice-cream mango shake; don’t ask the name, because they are too fancy to remember. A desi mango ice cream stick was placed over a glass of mango ice cream shake, and some caviar was poured over it. It would have been just an okay dish, but the caviar saved it by making it taste subtle, cutting out the sugary bit of the ice cream stick. That was followed by a peculiar looking dish called edible coal, served with ‘Lava Ash’. You have got to give credit to the creative team for playing with the words so beautifully, putting coal, lava and ash together, yet making a meaning out of them. The dish looks bizarre, but after a bite you will realize that it’s a sophisticated version of dahi ke kebab. That was followed by a regular chicken pizza. Sometime, it’s better to keep the classics along with the progressive dishes; it helps to balance your palate. The pizza was followed by regular looking pav bhaji, but later, I found out from the chef that it was ratatouille converted into Mumbai style bhaaji smoked with apple wood and served with mini focaccia. The dish is called Chawpati in Delhi. In this case, I would appreciate the efforts of the chef for bringing world and Indian cuisine together on the same plate. I hope the stewards would be able to explain these dishes to the guests amidst the loud music from the console. Another star dish of the afternoon was dahi vada 2050. It’s a liquid nitrogen induced molecular food that is filled with jalapeno stuffed vada, sweet yoghurt foam,red and yellow pepper relish, gari julienne, tempered mustard seed and curry leaf served with kala namak air.
Last but not the least were the desserts. The rasgulla tiramisu flower pot is a piece of art; it looks as if a small flower plant has been served on your plate, and finally came the icing on the cake — imitation of ras malai. One of the chefs cooks Rasmalai on cold Teppanyaki in front of you. One final observation about molecular food is that it is in vogue because it is appealing to the eye, but if pubs hold on to the tastes, it will survive in the long run.
One thing that I could not comprehend was why has the menu been designed around the components of second world war? Will have to visit again to find an answer.