Trois - A tale of two visits

Visit # 1- May 18

Pic by Janaki Dani
Restaurants serving European cuisine never fail to pique my curiosity. The invitation to attend the launch of the newest kid on the block - Trois opposite Big Bazaar on Central Avenue, Kalyani Nagar, Pune - was quickly accepted. Interface, the PR agency, sent me the menu in advance so I knew what to expect.

The bungalow setting is romantic. Dark wood, textured wall coatings, al fresco seating, open kitchen, stemware visible thru glass windows, indoor seating at two levels, a
Pic by Janaki Dani
terrace and a herb patch added to the charm. If you close your eyes, ignore the exhaust fumes and give your imagination a long leash, you could well be dining at a maison in the French countryside. 

I am a huge supporter of restaurants operated by owner chefs and was chuffed to meet the young and boyish looking Mayur Gadkari - IHMCTAN aka Dadar Catering Collge alumnus with a diploma in culinary arts from Australia and a few years worth work experience in Melbourne & Sydney under his belt. When I questioned him about the relocation, he said India was the bigger market. He and his childhood buddy and angel funder Pankaj (?) Shah were at the entrance - as good hosts should - welcoming their guests.
Pic by Janaki Dani
The launch, it seemed, was exclusively for food and lifestyle bloggers - the new age influencers. We were ushered into a long room on the first floor. The first thing I noticed was the long banquet table in the centre complete with individual settings - silverware & napkins. But the chairs were against the walls. There was little room for circulating among the twenty plus (average age and headcount) individuals. Many bloggers, I noticed, came with their significant others.

Many of us sat on the chairs with a glass of wine (Santa Rita, Chile and not Soledoro Sangiovese or Trebbiano as promised) and broke the ice with our neighbours till Mayur arrived and introduced himself, his investor and the cuisine. The support cooking and service team remained anonymous.

The hors d'oeuvres - vegetarian pinwheel, mezze platter, pork belly & chicken liver pâté  - arrived and were placed on the table. 3-4 small platters for 20+ bloggers seemed sparse even for a French minimalist. Out came the Nikons - nearly 1 per blogger - to capture the dishes for posterity. This habit of Indian restaurants serving lavash, pita and bread rolls with three dips and calling it mezze is most irritating. Why not call it "3 dips and bread". A real mezze cconsists of multiple selection of
Pic by Janaki Dani
appetizers ranging from stuffed vine leaves to kibbehs and fatayers. Breads and dips are just accompaniments. It would have been more appropriate to have termed the entire selection of entrées as mezze. Everyone had to share the starters and that proved an impossibility. Imagine 20+ sets of forks and spoons trying to get a taste from 3-4 platters. I never did get to taste the pork belly and what little I could fork up did not impress me in terms of flavour or texture.

The service was ill conceived. Many bloggers did not get a taste and if they don't taste, what will they write? It would have been smarter and classier to have had a server walk around and give each guest a tasting size of each hors d'oeuvre.

Pic by Janaki Dani
The mains were served as the entrées. 3-4 portions for the entire group. Amidst the multitude of Nikons, forks and spoons I managed to scoop up a little slow roasted goat cheese which was yummy. Goat cheese is usually served as an appetiser or a topping on a main. The gnocchi I did not get to taste. Too slow, joe! Neither did I manage the salmon or was it scallops? The confit duck was anything but. The real McCoy involves salt curing a leg of duck with garlic and sometimes herbs for upto 36 hours and then cooking it in its own fat for anything between four and ten hours. Mayur admitted that he couldn't do it since he got the duck only that morning! Perhaps another time. I like my lamb and specially cooked in red wine. So I adroitly sneaked thru the  phalanx of photographers packed tighter than Sparta's 300 and scooped up some lamb bourguignon. Not just tender lamb cubes but also a helping of the gravy and creamed potatoes. 

Pic by Janaki Dani
I'd have preferred a Burgundy wine to accompany the lamb but made do with the Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon. The lamb was tender and juicy, falling apart with just a mere gentle touch of the tine. The potato was creamy and buttery, soft and smooth. The gravy cooked in red wine had the right balance, without any fat lingering on the tongue. Smooth finish. How I yearned for some crusty French country loaf to mop up the juices. For this dish alone, I would return to Trois.

The dessert platter consisted of a chocolate & pear tart, lemony Crème brûlée, mango mousse with pineapple & chilli salsa and chocolate mousse with Oreos. Ever tried scooping or cutting a tart with a giant size spoon in one hand and a dessert plate in the other? I did. Needless to say I got just a taste of the chocolate mousse.

Pic by Janaki Dani
Mayur circulated with his guests and thoughtfully gave everyone a little bag of macaroons (it's all the rage now) to take home.

The bloggers meet was a showcase event and I was flatered to be invited since I am neither an avid blogger with hundreds of followers nor an influencer. Thanks to Interface, the pr agency, I got an opportunity to observe, taste and opine. All things considered - poor logistics, inability to taste all the dishes, great ambience, young and enterprising chef - the effort and sincerity came thru and I felt Trois was worth a second visit. The lamb bourguignon called.

Visit #2 - June 04, 2013

The call of the Lamb Bourguignon could not be ignored. Since we had two vegetarians in our group, I called ahead to check with Mayur Gadkari if their needs could be met. He assured me that 40-60 % of the menu was vegetarian. So off we went for a candle light dinner on the rooftop. The recent rain made the evening pleasant tho with mozzies abounding.

We started off with the day's special - yellow squash stuffed with ratatouille and feta cheese topping. Though the squash was slightly bitter, the tasty stuffing and salty cheese made up for it. (Rs.195). The asparagus and mushroom tossed with raisins, walnuts and feta was quite acceptable but pricey (Rs.350). The squash offered better value. Nothing showcases the fluffy, airy, creamy taste of cheese better than a well made souffle. And so we ordered the twice baked 3 cheese souffle (Rs.215). It should have arrived in all its glory, had our table been next to the kitchen. But by the time it journeyed from the kitchen to the terrace, the fluffy top had collapsed. Could we identify the three cheeses used? No. Perhaps we need to give the chef another chance. My bench mark is the camembert souffle, for long the signature dish of Mumbai's Zodiac Grill. The less said about the mezze platter, the better. Waste of Rs.350 chomping on slivers of lavash and three dips. The complimentary baskets of warm bread were replenished often. Unfortunately there was no baguette or country style loaf. I searched for a Vichysoisse but had to be content with a cream of asparagus soup of middling flavour (Rs.175).

There are few things more comforting than a real French onion soup - slow cooking, caramelised onions that turn mellow and sweet in a broth laced with white wine and Cognac and served with crunchy baked croutons of crusty bread topped with melted, toasted cheese. The original is cooked in beef
Pic by Gopal Kaushik
broth but in India either chicken or vegetable is used. We ordered two portions at Rs.185 each. The chef came to our table and asked us how we liked it. The response from all was that it was not done right. The onions were not caramelised. To our surprise Mayur Gadkari agreed with us and said he had told his cooks the same thing. Nothing else followed. We were dumbstruck. Here was a chef agreeing that the dish was not cooked well and yet had served it to us. On top of it, there was no apology and no offer to replace it. Any self repecting chef would have taken it back and profusely apologised for it ever reaching the table. No such luck. We were shocked into silence. 

Pic by Troi staff
We moved on to the mains. The vegetable tagine (Rs.315) cooked probably in a stainless steel vessel and presented in a decorative ceramic tagine for effect strangely had kaffir lime leaf (unknown in northern Africa) instead of pickled lemon to impart the sourness and a saffron broth with dates instead of apricots.I had a spoonful to taste and did not find it very appealing though the vegetarians were ok with it but not too enthused.  The chef recommended a special of the day - Chicken Galantine (Rs.415) - popular since the time of the French Revolution (1789–99) and credited to a M. Prévost, the chef from the house of Marquis de Brancas. Its essentially a savory cold dish, made from boned chicken mixed with ground chicken and pork, spices, and herbs, sewn back into the bird’s skin, poached in a rich stock, and preserved in the natural jelly. Galantines are sliced in rounds and served cold. Its final appearance will be like a thick sausage with a thin skin cover. Ours arrived with a stuffing of spinach  etc. with a thicker-than-expected covering, more like a roulade really, but still very well made and delicious. A crispy Sauvignon Blanc or even a Viognier would have been the perfect accompaniment but we were drinking Fratelli Cabernet Franc - Shiraz (Rs. 1200). The main course finale was the lamb bourguignon (Rs.425). The original, from Burgundy, is made from beef. Consistency in quality is the hallmark of a good restaurant and the lamb in June was as good as the one in May. Full marks to the kitchen team.

For dessert we ordered Mango Panacotta (Rs.195) and a white chocolate and creme brulee (Rs.215). The mango was too heavy for the panacotta but still acceptable. The creme brulee was liked by all.

The entire meal for 6 adults cost Rs. 4450 + taxes of Rs.645 = Rs.5095. Avg of Rs.850 per person.

It's a place definitely worth going back to. Spend your money wisely and get the biggest bang for your buck. Avoid the mezze and soups unless you see a Vichyssoise or a Bouillabaisse on the menu. I saw a seafood Escabeche on its way to a table. Looked interesting but made with Basa - now all the rage with restaurateurs due to its low price (Rs. 160 per kg in wholesale, cleaned and frozen). Basa is a fish with no taste, no aroma and completely neutral - like real Vodka. I wonder what stock made of basa tastes like!

Bon apetit to my readers. Caveat lector  - Past experience is no guarantee of future performance.


Deepali Jain said...

Hi Shankar,

just read your review of Trois. I applaud you for writing an honest review. I wanted to follow on similar lines but was held back by diplomacy.

Thanks for mentioning the better halves ;)

I would like to connect with you about an event I am doing. Can you email me your contact number on alika279 (at) gmail (dot) com

Sayyed Mustaheer said...

Really nice blog. This is very usefull.