#FollowTheFoodie with Gourmet it up- Byblos Kitchen+Bar: Modern Mediterranean with a Twist
So it has been a busy couple of weeks. Visiting different places around town, some on invitations, some out of pure curiousity. But we thank Gourmet It Up for keeping us on our toes and for keeping our taste- buds and tummies very happy. Why? We were chosen to be a part of the ‘Follow The Foodie’ programme which is organized by Gourmet It Up every month. So we signed up to go tasting their curated menus from three of their restaurants, around town. Cool, right?
How it works:
Go to: Gourmet It Up
Find what you feel like eating, and make a reservation!
Following the Foodie? So here it goes!
The first of the lot was Byblos Bar and Kitchen, which has derived its name from a Mediterranean port city in Lebanon, which is believed to have been occupied from the 8000 BC, and is suggested to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world! Its location being a port, became a cross section not just for trade, but also for spices, cultures and most important, food. Their cuisine has been influenced by Arabic, Spanish and Mediterranean empires and kingdoms. A twist of fate made Gourmet It Up, pair us up with the beautiful Byblos, closer to home and which happens to be situated in Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel (The restaurant is situated right next to the Sai Service shop)
So let’s get on with our story, shall we?
What’s in a name?
Byblos has glass walls on two sides, a bar towards the far end and a private seating area called Majlis. Apart from the name, menu and the word Majlis, very few things would make you think of middle-eastern references. From where we saw it, it was a very classy yet, had a very no-nonsense kind of decor. We entered and were greeted by Chef Nidhi(Executive Chef) and her sister Vidhi(MD and also the official taster.) Both young and energetic women who got a little help from their mother, to start this place. We were told how it was Chef Nidhi’s dream to open a restaurant in this mill complex for over five years!!! Their choice of cuisine is something they are comfortable with, as they were brought up in the Middle East and were very familiar with the cuisine, and frankly it’s something new and different!
Byblos isn’t authentic though, and proudly so. Chef Nidhi, seemed very inspired when she spoke about her food. Her past experiences with Middle-eastern food and her thoughts about marriage between different cuisines led to the name Byblos, which is known to have a cuisine influenced by surrounding nations. The story behind Byblos did make the tasting seem a little promising. We have to add, with all the mixing and matching of dishes, flavours and techniques, Chef Nidhi has done a great job with the menu!
The Gourmetitup Menu and #FollowtheFoodie Experience
For a menu which has SO many dishes on it, Gourmetitup and Byblos made everyone’s life easier by compiling a 6 course tasting menu, which includes most of the favourites that fall under a very attractive price of Just Rs. 1050++. Before and even after heading to Byblos, we were told that the portions might not make us happy. But we were pleased to see that the portions were just right.
We started our #followthefoodie experience with the Amuse Bouche, in this case, a selection of breads and a fantastic garlic dip called toum. We were told that no Pita bread was served at this restaurant, but something called a Saj. So a jar made out of recycled Wine bottles, arrived at the table, bearing home-made breads, such as the traditional Egyptian bread called Saj and a paper thin lavash sort of bread called carta di musica or the music sheet (when making it, the dough is rolled out so thin, you can read a musical sheet through it) , along with a butter look-alike garlic dip. The garlic dip, which looked similar to a aoili, was a big big hit and the Foodie was determined to make a meal out of the it! The Saj was nice and soft and Carta Di Musica fitting to the name, snapped perfectly!
As the restaurant filled up, Chef Nidhi had to leave us, but we were kept company with Vidhi who gave us an insight to the menu, concept and as to how and why they got in the industry. She also helped us pick our dishes, as we were open to suggestions.
Next up was our soup, a roasted Tomato soup with a pistou drizzle ( sauce made from cloves of garlic, fresh basil, and olive oil) and served with a side of two cute looking truffle grilled-cheese croutons . What we really liked about the soup was the coarse texture as it hadn’t been passed through a sieve. A very rustic soup made modern when paired with grilled cheese croutons. Couldn’t taste the truffle oil, as such, but we’re sure it played its part in the bigger picture (in this case the overall flavor). There was something different about this soup. One would feel very warm and fuzzy eating it.
Course three on the Gourmetitup menu was the salad. Vidhi was being the perfect host and helped us with our salad selection. We went with Salad Folle and Edible flowers and Mesclun salad. The portions! The portions! The portions! For a tasting menu, the salad portion was massive. The Edible Flowers were actual flowers and not florets or a scam! While eating The Foodie felt like a cow, eating so many flowers and leaves and since it had a fruity flavor, some fruits even. After a while, some sort of a break was needed. Something to break the monotony, maybe some cheese?
However Chef Nidhi explained to us with the change in season, the taste of the petals changes therefore what might taste good with cheese now, might taste alot different in another season. Lots of technicality, therefore the Foodie just borrowed some onion rings (dipped in some toum) from The Chef’s Salad Folle and polished off her salad, like it deserved.
Salad Folle consisted of a ranch dressing with cubed BBQ chicken and topped with fried onion rings. Just the description of the salad made the Chef drool, while typing! The lettuce leaves were crisp and they were tossed on order ensuring a bite to the leaves. The deep fried onion rings added another flavour and dimension to the dish. Chicken was well cooked too.
Like we said this is a Modern Mediterranean restaurant, not authentic. This is reflected in their display of appetizers, such as Nuclear wings and Rock Corn. Sounds very Pan Asian, doesn’t it? But Chef Nidhi added her own touch to it and served the Japanese Rock corn with a base spread of Toum (Now you know all these middle-eastern terms huh, smarty pants?) and drizzle of a peri-peri fonduta. The Asian wings were topped off with Teriyaki zhoug! Sounds interesting, right? It tasted and looked pretty interesting too! The wings were boneless, weren’t burn your b*lls spicy and were finished off in no time.
The rock corn was crunchy till the very end of the meal!! We’ve generally had it with a wasabi mayonnaise but the toum and Peri-Peri spice drizzle along with the sweetness of the corn, was a great combination of flavours and The Foodie kept picking on it and eating it non-stop.
For our mains Vidhi suggested the Shish Taouk and the Bedouin Biryani (made with an African berber spice , mushrooms) and comes with a pomegranate Tzatziki (yogurt sauce). Shish Taouk sounded like a very regular dish, but when it arrived it had a p*mped up presentation with a charred whole onion, besar spice and a charred lemon, rubbed with spices, which we were to squeze on top of the meat. The chicken was so tender, with the lightest of pressure the chicken would come apart. Yogurt and authentic spices were used in the marination of this succulent chicken which made the dish, kick-*ss! The Chef and I mixed our dishes, to make it interesting. As just the rice or just the chicken wouldn’t pass off as entirely main-course.
Desserts and Final Thoughts:
We were told to order this dessert called, Yesterday and Chef Nidhi sent us a platter of Cookie Monster. We also got to taste a nice jar of Salted Caramel Ice Cream and a cup of Istanbul, a Turkish Coffee Chocolate Cremem de Pot. The Yesterday ( A signature dessert) consisted of a biscuit which was layered between chocolate pudding and topped with cream reminded us of a dessert we ate in our younger days. The Turkish Coffee complemented the Chocolate Pot de Creme in a way we never imagined. Really strong coffee with a thick and rich chocolate pot de creme. The Cookie Monster was simple cookie, the size of our face!! It had a center of melted chocolate and went really well with our off-the-menu Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Home-made, with a great taste of both sweet and salt this ice cream really checked out in our book! The ice-creams would be a part of their new menu that is coming up in 2 weeks, so guys do check this place out.
The Gourmet it Up menu gave us a glimpse of what is at offer in Byblos. They have a huge menu which we shall definitely go back and check again, till then we’ve already put out the word about this place to our friends. We hope after you read this you’ll will too! Good job, team Byblos, great service and Gourmet it up, for this totally new restaurant experience. Cheers!
Food – 4
Decor – 4
Value for Money – NA
(This meal was sponsored by Gourmetitup.com as a part of their #FollowtheFoodie campaign. Honest views have been given by the reviewers regardless.)