GPS: Shop no: 6 & 7, Cambata Building (Eros Cinema Bldg) , 42, Maharshi Karve Road, Churchgate, Mumbai - 400020.
Tring Tring: +91-99204 09099 / 77383 86339 / 9167759099 / 9167719099
In & Out: 8:30 am – 11:30 pm daily
Damages: Rs.4000/- for a meal for two without alcohol (3 courses)
Must-Order: Les Oeufs Mourettes
We don’t know if there is a term for this phenomenon but have you ever noticed that every time you have a completely new experience for the first time ever, something similar occurs again in a short span of time? Hence the totally unplanned back-to-back lowdown on Mumbai’s only two noteworthy French eateries –Suzette last week and now CV! Anyone who has grown up in Bombay will always have memories of Sundance Café (which Suzette finally replaced) – whether its juicy burgers or stale fries – simply because it was always there! A comforting backdrop to 30-rupees movies at Eros and street side book shopping at neighbouring Flora Fountain. CV will perhaps always have to live tinged by a hint of nostalgia but you know that French phrase, c’est la vie!
Since Mariam has recently returned from Prague with green hued absinthe-tinted memories and I have just dipped my toes into the Absinthe Bar at Antibes we reluctantly resisted an encore at CV whose Absinthe A La Fontaine lovingly recreates the proper way to drink this magic potion by pouring it through a sugar cube and then flaming the cube and dissolving it in cold water and adding to the absinthe to water down its fire . . . somewhat! But aficionados in Bombay tell us CVs version is worth a shot. What I am personally piqued by is the breakfast cocktail Champagne PMU (pick me up!) comprising bubbly, grenadine, cognac and orange juice – both because I love bubbly and I love the French practice of drinking in the morning – its almost as terribly and timelessly chic as a Chanel LBD!
Since Mariam and I hadn’t been out for a proper dinner a la deux for a while we decided to go the whole hog (pun intended!) with the 3-course tasting menu comprising a surprise appetizer, starter, main and a dessert. And let us tell you first off, the portions are much larger than a tasting portion so opt for this only if you’re hungry enough to eat a horse!
While the surprise amuse bouche was a mystery blend of herbs and what we suspect was mashed pumpkin, the starters were surefire winners. I loved the Crab Farci a la Creole which had a crab shell stuffed with minced crab meat softened with coconut milk, oodles of garlic and Cajun spices accompanied by a flavourful crushed chili sauce. The flavours burst in pomp and fury inside my mouth with the coconut milk bringing hints of East Asian cuisine to the fore. Given our love for meat and eggs the Oeufs Meurettes hit our umami spot with poached eggs doused in red wine accompanied by smoky grilled bacon, a crust of bread and oh-so-sinful lardons (pork fat!). Each morsel was intensely flavourful with the wine and bacon playing up the texture of the eggs. Mariam and I stopped our intense conversation on the state of modern marriages to ooh and aah over this culinary beauty at every bite.
Buoyed by the superb starters we couldn’t wait for the mains to arrive. However this was a sobering course. The classic Coq Au Vin, a braised chicken stew cooked in red wine with mushrooms, garlic, bacon and once again some lardon was rather comme-ci comme-ca. While the chicken was excellently moist, tender and flavoured, the sauce could have been any rich brown gravy dripping butter and fat (and a tad much salt). The finer flavours were lost on us. The minute Mariam and I see Chateaubriand on a menu we look no further and hence it was a given that we would go for the Chateaubriand Sauce Foie Gras with the prime beef fillet roasted medium rare with truffle oil and foie gras. The beef though cooked to instruction was dry on the inside despite being pink and once again the sauce was a rich generic brown base, making us suspect that the recipes here at CV had been boosted up from their French sparseness to suit robust Indian palates. A pity really since the food would be great even without these touches of localization.
Dessert however lifted our spirits once again . . . as they always do! The Fondant Bernard Caillebaut with 72% dark chocolate fondant and vanilla ice cream meant serious business; it was dark, dense, only slightly sweet and very rich as all self-respecting chocolate desserts should be. Setting off the intensity perfectly was the frothy and dainty Tarte Aux Fruits with a moist and delicate almond base, light-as-air whipped cream and a frond of seasonal fruit slices finishing it off.
Crowd v/s Company
We’re a bit torn by CV’s interiors. While the wrought iron lamps and cornices are all very French corner bistro, the cold white tiles remind us of a diner. And though they have done away with the ghastly white neon lighting, the crowded tables on the mezzanine are almost a total replica of Sundance days albeit with an absinthe-hued studded green leather sofa to remind us of all things French. And in this cramped space they have also carved a corner for live performances! While that’s a commendable effort I am not quite sure if it’s practical given their paucity of space. And one small grouse; if you’re going to feed us that much lardons, its your moral duty to make sure the aircon is in shipshape! We found ourselves profusely perspiring and were relieved when the party of six at the next table echoed our sweaty concerns. A slight upping in the tonnage is required we suspect? Of course the affable host Frederic with his warm personal touch and solicitous concern for every course consumed by every table is a great reminder of the personal chef-run cafes of Europe and a lovely homely touch.
We’re beginning to see the wisdom of going French in bites and sips rather than the whole hog. So if its eggs Florentine, eggs Meurettes, crepes or some of that chic Champagne PMU we’re craving, you might spot us there for breakfast animatedly discussing all things men, women and what lies between them. If that’s not French, what is?