5 – The Restaurant, Santacruz West, Mumbai

The menu is a mishmash of flavors and styles, but 5 at Santacruz, West is an experience in terms of food and relaxed ambience.

[singlepic id=1727 w=80 h=92 float=left]Having recently moved to Mumbai and without the time to explore the culinary elements of the city, thanks to an ever demanding new job, I grabbed the opportunity to check out 5 in Santacruz, West.

The best thing about 5 is the location. Bang on the arterial S.V. Road and surrounded by the greenery, one of the rare occurrences in this city, 5 has easily enough space for 52 diners (40 indoors and 12 outdoors). The colors on the walls and the furniture work well with the wood beam ceiling and wooden floors adding a rather relaxed ambience to the place. The overall look, however falls a pinch short of giving it an uber fine dine appeal. Reason – the colors, the light, the setting and food give the place a little too much of a relaxed look, a place you would ‘hang out’ with your girlfriend to unwind.

But a restaurant is also about the food… and this one can serve up a storm for your senses. The owners call it a Bistro; I wouldn’t argue. The quaint nature of 5 is well complemented by the food and wine list. We began with a Classic Sangria Rosso (Sula Merlot) and a 5 Fruit Sangria (Sula Chenin Blanc). The sangrias were quite good and are definitely recommended. Not too sweet, with the right kind of fruits made for a pleasant wake up call for the senses before we dived into the food.

We were served the Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil soup to begin with which was the slightest bit sweeter than expected for me but the flavors worked well with the sangria. The thought was shared by my guest, so I guess it could and should work with others as well. The soup was accompanied by a bread basket; 5 bakes its own bread and they were good. The condiments, however, were another story. The flavors were right, but the hummus was a bit too runny; one tiny point for the chef to improve upon maybe. Next were the appetizers. The Grilled Wasabi Prawns had just the right amount of wasabi for me. Anymore and it would’ve overpowered the sangria. But, you can ask for more if you are drinking something else and are brave enough to withstand the quintessential Japanese punch. For my vegetarian guest, we ordered the Stuffed Mushrooms (Scarmoza cheese, topped with tomatoes and baked). Two words, nicely done.

My guest and I had gone to visit 5 at the wrong time perhaps. I’m watching my weight like a hawk and that stopped me from ordering too much. Coupled by the presence of a vegetarian at the table, we decided to order the Baked Vegetable Cannelloni for the main course. Well baked and nicely flavored, the cannelloni was an absolute delight. But here comes the oxymoron. All weight watching goes out the window of a high rise as soon as someone mentions dessert; the cheese cake – one of the best I’ve had. We were so engrossed in the visual appeal of the cheese cake that we dived right into it and forgot all about asking about it.

The wine list was decent in size and quality of wines, and is served by the glass as well as by the bottle. Some unexpected names on the wine list were also present. The one thing that stands out for 5 is the freshness of the ingredients and the the creativity of the kitchen team. The menu is a mishmash of flavors and styles, but 5 at Santacruz, West is an experience in terms of food and relaxed ambience.