1. Toast & Tonic, Bengaluru
This Bengaluru institution celebrates all things local while also keeping an eye on what the rest of the world is eating. Chef Manu Chandra is always trying new things. The ingredients are top-notch: bandel from Kolkata, Naga chilli from Nagaland, perilla seeds from Shillong, chocolate from Pondicherry, coffee from Coorg and Chikmanglur, tea from Munnar, and pork from Tamil Nadu. Every finished item on the plate, however, bears the Toast & Tonic logo. Whether it’s the crisp soft-shell crab from Bhimavaram, soft eggs and fresh andouille sausage on sourdough toast with green mustard spread, or the smoked Bandel and gin mustard hollandaise, most of what’s on the plate is made in-house, including the breads, sauces and garnishes, as well as the sausages and meats.
Address: Toast & Tonic, 14/1, Wood Street, Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560025, India
Telephone: +91 80 4111 6879
2. Slink & Bardot, Mumbai
Don’t be put off by the winding, narrow bylanes through which you have to manoeuvre your way to get here. Because once you do, the traffic, the noise and the chaos of Mumbai magically disappear as you’re transported straight to Paris. Elegant black-and-white-tiled floors, floral-patterned sofas and lighting that’s just low enough without being too dim – the interiors of this refurbished bungalow provide the perfect environment for equally elegant, yet fun French food. Much of the menu is devoted to drinks and we’re not complaining. The inventive list of cocktails includes the intriguingly named Sitting in an English Garden Waiting for the Sun (a refreshing blend of Tanqueray, organic elderflower syrup, cucumber juice, egg white and lavender bitters) and the espresso Old Fashioned (Jim Beam, espresso, sugar, bitters) that’s potent enough for an army. Follow that with some glazed brie en croute – the filo pastry encasing the cheese is brushed with just enough lavender honey. The steak tartare with mustard ice cream and garlic crostinis is wonderful, while vegetarians will enjoy the miso-glazed aubergine steak, which comes with crispy okra, pear, orange and brown butter emulsion and toasted almonds.
Address: Slink & Bardot, Thadani House 329/A, opposite Indian Coast Guard Worli Village, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400030, India
Telephone: +91 70459 04728
3. Artusi Ristorante Bar, New Delhi
A trip to Greater Kailash is in order for anyone desiring the bitter, creamy hit of tiramisu, the smokiness of salmon, or the smoothness of chicken liver pate. The food at Artusi is authentically northern Italian (after all, the proprietors and chef are from the Emilia Romagna region). The spaghetti cacio e pepe and grilled lamb chops are our favorites, but with a cuisine as uncompromising as this, everything on the menu is likely to please. The restaurant uses hydroponically grown greens in dishes like the butterhead salad with raspberry vinaigrette.
Address: Artusi Ristorante Bar, M-24, M-Block Market, Greater Kailash 2, New Delhi, Delhi 110048, India
Telephone: +91 88002 09695
4. Trishna, Mumbai
There’s always a line at Trishna in December, as visitors to the city who are only passing through eagerly wait for their fill of butter garlic crab, Hyderabadi dal, and, of course, fish koliwada. During the rest of the year, regulars who enjoy the high-quality seafood on offer here insist on having their crab brought out before it is cooked, as they savour the first of many drinks. First-timers frequently worry if the hoopla is all in their heads. All of their misgivings are dispelled with the first bite of neer dosa with fish in green masala.
Address: Trishna, 7, Saibaba Rd, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
Telephone: +91 22 2270 3213
5. Masque, Mumbai
Chef Prateek Sadhu brilliantly melds his Kashmiri ancestry with his time spent in the kitchens of Alinea, Noma, and The French Laundry to bring city guests a spectrum of decidedly fresh ingredients. Masque is a cooking environment that invites experimentation and creativity. Sadhu and his partner, Aditi Dugar, ensure that the food at Masque displays regional, often little-known, products in intriguing new ways by taking journeys all across the country and then employing skills learnt abroad. Since its inception, the restaurant has featured pop-up dinners by chefs from around the world, including Mike Bagale of Alinea in Chicago and Garima Arora of Gaa in Bangkok. Given Sadhu’s Kashmiri background, it’s no wonder that the Masque menu included kalari, Jammu’s renowned cheese, served with Kashmiri rice pancakes, walnut chutney, and farm radishes.
Address: Masque, Gala 3, Laxmi Woollen Mill, Shakti Mills Lane, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400011, India
Telephone: +91 22 4973 7431