Nimisserie is the vision and dream of one man – Chef Nimish Bhatia, erstwhile Corporate Executive Chef, The Lalit Group of Hotels. Truth be told, on receiving an invitation to check out Nimisserie, Bangalore’s latest upscale standalone restaurant, I assumed (completely erroneously, solely on my associations to the name) it was a French bistro. Instead, as later conversation enlightened me, it was all about “aspect” cuisine.
A Strange Aspect
Scratching your head wondering what that is? We all did! And a long, languorous meal in Chef’s presence later, I still walked out shaking my head on that one. Aspect cuisine is a made-up term – Chef’s way of saying that his namesake restaurant serves his unique take on dishes/flavours. The space is huge and glass-dominated; the interiors are flashy and predominantly red and white and with marble and glass and beads and what not sourced lovingly and painstakingly. Chef laid out one of his Degustation menus, and with the exception of a visually fancy chicken salad (Chicken Breast and Argula Salad, with Marigold, dehydrated pineapple and Basil), it was all Indian – not Indian flavor influenced, but wholeheartedly Indian, from the upper half of the country. Each dish came with a series of visual elements as well as twirls and flourishes in the name of garnishes, that without exception were one or two too many. Let me point to some of the dishes I liked, for in all fairness, it was not a bad meal.
The Food Aspect
A Trilogy of Nakhalawi Galauti that had three English cream horns stuffed with three varieties of meat (chicken, lamb, prawn) and served in a stand was tasty and innovative, with the chicken emerging winner – though some rose petals and smattering of cream sauce on the plate was random. I love cream horns, so this was a nice harking back to childhood for me. The Rohelkhand style Dal came with Kachumber salad, Thepla, and tomato carpaccio with truffle oil – those last elements being completely unnecessary. The dal plus kachumber plus thepla was tasty and holding its own! We also enjoyed some Naanerie offerings – served in little white wheelbarrows, these were mini naans/kulchas with unusual stuffings like bacon, chilli chicken and my favorite, the Apricot and Chilli Kulcha.
A special shout-out to the Trio of Fish, and that’s saying a lot from someone who’s not that into fish – this is one dish that didn’t hit a single un-synchronous step: Kasundi Grilled Snapper, Gooseberry Chutney Tuna and Curry Leaf Pesto Seer all had lovely flavours. The Bihari Pithi Pockets featured Pithi as a dough for a ravioili stuffed with spinach, cottage cheese and flax seeds on a bed of cumin infused dal. Accompanying Bakharwadi roll and Aam Papdi played a nicely balanced duet of spice and sweet. I will mention dessert, more for the presentation in a fancy limestone inlay box that I wanted to snatch up to keep my jewelry in, than the three offerings of Salted Caramel Chocolate Ice Cream, Tarte Tatin Misthi Doi and Chlorophyll Panacotta.
The Nimisserie Aspect
If you think Nimisserie as a name is cutesy, try on Kebaberie and Naanerie for size – yup, from whence kebabs and naans appear. The ‘miss’ in Nimisserie unfortunately strikes a chord – there’s just too much going on the plate, each and every course. Much as some elements of theatricality and oomph are appreciated, too much is well, just that – too much! It’s confusing and tiresome as a diner – at the end of the day, the idea is to have a good meal, right? I want to be able to appreciate and enjoy my food and do so without having to work quite so hard. I suspect there are people who will praise the amalgam of visual and sensory elements and the (heavily Indian with a ‘modern’ twist) cuisine for its innovativeness, and its opulence.
However, I wonder how many people will actually head back to Nimisserie a second, third or fourth time?At the end of the day, when the entire experience relies rather heavily on gimmickry (yup, I did that, sorry!), and the food – we ate almost a dozen courses – is Indian, and you’re paying a pretty penny for it, is Nimisserie in its current form the place I would head to? To me, it goes into the category of check it out once, if nothing else, for the over the top renditions of food, space and decor. Beyond that, I can’t quite see the appeal. Time will of course tell, once the furor and buzz settle…