On the first weekend of business, it takes us 20 minutes of hugs and many hellos to get from under Miss T's skylit, lanterned vestibule to our first glimmering drink, complete with a much-Instagrammed monogrammed ice cube. It feels like much of South Bombay's food and media folk are here, swirling around a long T-shaped bar, before they are escorted to one of the three glowing booths downstairs or the more sedate dinner tables upstairs. The service is among the best we've seen in the city, warm and welcoming on the phone, at the table, and at the door.
This is a restaurant opening that got its own podcast, and in recent weeks we have heard the owners talk about the process it took to put Miss T together, which indeed is a collaboration of storied pedigree. The Neighbourhood Hospitality boys (of Woodside Inn, The Pantry, Bombay Vintage) Pankil Shah, Sumit Gambhir, and Abhishek Honawar, have teamed up with the Food Matters folks (of The Table, Magazine St. Kitchen) Gauri Devidayal and Jay Yousuf, and brought on board as consulting chef Bawmra Jap (Bomra's, Goa) to serve “food inspired by Asian Golden Triangle with a focus on Burmese and Vietnamese cuisine”.
Miss T occupies the two-level bungalow previously inhabited by Colaba's erstwhile pan-Asian institution Busaba. All five co-owners make up what is now called the Colaba Cartel (if the name sounds familiar, it's because you're thinking of the disastrously short-lived fashion store that sprung up in Kala Ghoda last year) are present, guiding guests towards tipples, nibbles and quick tours of the space.
The downstairs offers swathes of glimmering white surfaces, angled mirrors, deep blue upholstered booths, a wallpaper of discs of veneer – if it were a flatly lit room, it would feel like a profusion of too many textures and terazzo. Luckily, Miss T's lighting – pools of illumination in a darkly lit space – keep things moody, focused and good for Instagram. The upstairs benefits from plenty of natural light, and from a large glass-lined balcony that can be converted into a private party room.
Full disclosure: the owners and consulting chef are dear friends of this reviewer, and we were recognised during our visit, but the owners did not know we were there for a review and we paid for our meal.
Now let's talk about the food and cocktails.
A plate of fried red snapper rolls with tingly umami-rich dipping sauce makes a substantial enough bar bite to qualify as a light dinner for one. The morsels are veiled in lacy rice paper, the warm fish nori-wrapped and sitting in cool lettuce cups with mango juliennes. Chef Bawmra's pickled tea leaf salad is a table essential for every meal at Miss T; it is deeply savoury, with delicate fermented leaves entangled with crunchy broad beans, fried garlic discs, peanuts, dried shrimp, and a touch of tomato. It finds a salty partner in the Nabob, a gin cocktail described on the menu as “adventurous”. And in truth, the drink is, thanks to caramelised onion cordial and funky fish sauce.
Everyone's leading libation at Miss T however, should be a crazy delicious tipple of peanut butter-washed Jim Beam, Canadian Club, saffron essence and orange bitters. Quixotic, like romance and idealism, goes down far too easily. Miss T's cocktail menu alone, designed by Jeremy Buck, is worth many revisits.
We'd also gladly come back for slices of cold rare b**f radiating from under a billow of soba and coriander roots. Toss before you eat, as there's a hidden bed of bright peanut sauce waiting to bind them all.
Gauri, who recommended this dish, joins us just right as we're sampling forest mushrooms and (chickpea flour-based) shan tofu. The dish arrives as three pillows of fried tofu on a pile of fungi; it's a ratio that needs to be flipped. This is also true of a Caffeinated Boulevardier, where Vietnamese Trung Nyugen coffee-infused vermouth overwhelms the drink's undetectable beeswax and bird's eye chilli.
There is quick redemption in a luxuriant but light jackfruit seed and tender coconut curry with star fruit and meaty and crunchy slices of lotus root, best eaten over accompanying pandan leaf rice. Then there is a polarising dessert designed for people who have a savoury tooth: fluffy coriander and almond cake with floral, mousse-like blueberry cashew cream that would even work as a light and complex starter. It has its haters, but it grows on us.
In a few weeks there are plans to start lunch service and barrel-aged cocktails. Soon, we will seek a weekday, daytime seat upstairs, along the sunlit, leaf-lined windows of the balcony. Until then, find us at the slinky bar.
Getting there: 4, Mandlik Road, off Colaba Causeway, Colaba; Call 2280 1144 / 22801155 or email email@example.com. Open for dinner service only, for now, 7pm am to 11:30pm. Meal for two is Rs 5,000 with one drink each.
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in NYC, lives in Mumbai and writes mostly about food and travel for many a publication. She’s a contributing editor at Vogue magazine, and her words have also been found in Conde Nast Traveller, Mint Lounge, Scroll.in, The Hindu, Saveur, The Guardian, and Travel + Leisure, among others. She's crazy about obscure ingredients, and she always knows where to go back for seconds. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @roshnibajaj.
Wake up to daily updates on what to eat/shop/do in your city