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The first thing that will surprise you – not pleasantly - at The Fork Tale is the bar, which is panelled with mirrored glass, and reflects only mocktails. To rub salt in our wounds, the walls are lined with multiple antique clocks, constantly reminding us that it’s cocktail o‘clock. Note: the art deco lighting, antique furniture and old gramophone (geez, we’re still doing that!) are all on sale.

Launched by the folks behind Charni Road’s The Bombay Havelli, The Fork Tale’s menu has been put together by ex-Taj chef Diana Kavarana. But those expecting five-star food at easy-to-digest prices will be disappointed.

Thaal Marx

The menu features far too many cuisines and influences, and based on our meal, we find that it’s probably best to stick with Indian fare. The restaurant offers three all-you-can-eat thalis, ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 750 for dinner. We order the Global Desi version, which includes a mix of Indian and European dishes.

The thali as a whole is a jumbled experience. It offers a lot of food, all of which changes on a daily basis. Our meal starts with a light, peppery tomato shorba, two types of chaat (a store bought cream cracker with hung curd; a slice of apple, green chutney and sev that doesn’t have the zing one expects from chaat; and a crunchy twist on the dahi puri), followed by eight starters.

Of the eight starters, at least three are variants of fried cheese or fried yogurt, including an American cheese corn ball, which you’d do better to order at the recently re-branded Cream Centre. Paneer tikka is disappointingly bland, although we are pleased with super soft hara bhara kebabs

Off the menu we sampled mushroom galauti, which lack the earthiness we are expecting but are surprisingly easy to pack away, especially with the punchy green chutney that accompanies them. Also surprising are nachos - in a circular dish, you'll find sour cream, salsa, guacamole and refried beans with nachos (made in-house of wild rice) that have a satisfying crunch.

Naan The Less

Hummus and pita (we’re back to the thali now) is made with eggplant and studded with onions for the kind of texture and crunch that we don’t want from the dish (more shredded chicken salad in mayonnaise than creamy chickpeas). Also included in the thali is pink sauce pasta, where the rigatoni is cooked down to mush; an undercooked risotto with tomato pieces is very disappointing. The pizza crowned with jalapenos, broccoli, green peppers and sweetened tomato sauce is like something a maharaj would cook at your Gujarati friend’s home.

Our mains, served with butter naans, are what we should have ordered in the first place. Dal and paneer makhani are hearty and buttery without being too heavy. An interesting creation is the bhatti kebab masala, which features smoked seekh kebabs in a far too creamy red gravy. Skip the Asian page; miso eggplant can do with less of the sweet-soy glaze and the accompanying fried rice too, can use a lighter hand of soy and chili oil.

We don’t have to order dessert, because for the thali’s big finish, we are served a dessert sampler with a light brownie; a cloying mango cheesecake; and a far-too-dense eggless chocolate mousse.

We’ve spent two hours eating here, and realised that while we’re probably not going to return, The Fork Tale’s chaat platters and all-you-can-eat snack menus (available from 4 pm to 7 pm) are going to be magnets for the neighbourhood’s office goers. Fatal attraction is what we would call it.

Getting there: Rajabahadur Mansion, Mumbai Samachar Marg, opposite SBI Main Branch, Fort, meal for two is approx. Rs 1,400.

bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.

Accessibility: There is half a flight of steps to get to the restaurant. To be seated upstairs, you will have to climb another set of stairs.

This review was contributed by Aatish Nath, a freelance food and drink writer.

Photo Credit: Zomato

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