GPS: Meadows House, MP Shetty Marg, Fort, (behind BSE Bldg), Mumbai - 1
Tring: +91-22- 22654194, 22630193
In & Out: 12 noon – 3pm & &:30 – 11:30pm daily
Damages: Rs.2500/- for a meal for two with alcohol
Must-Order: Mutton Ajadina with Neer Dosa
We like to steer our palates off the beaten track so that they don’t fall into populist patterns. And in the process we end up discovering unlikely heroes who remain our favourites no matter how many new-fandangle superstars come into town! Ankur is one of those old-is-gold places, which wins our vote above the Trishna, Mahesh and Gazalees of the world. It has no branches, its discreetly tucked away behind Flora Fountain, its better done up then all the competition (no faux carved ceilings, crawling crabs in glass aquariums!) and does south Indian fare with coastal Karnatakan touch bypassing Mangalore altogether. So when its time to take out new friends and old for a dinner in town we can think of no better option!
When it comes to seafood we don’t pull any punches. We expect to eat heavy and go the full hog. Even the visiting foreigners are warned that this is going to be a long, heavy and occasionally spicy affair. So we dive straight into the starters with the Fish Tikka, which is a superb version of the classic with fleshy rawas cubes encrusted with pepper and tandoored to perfection. The Pomfret Pudina (my favourite version) is marinated in a fresh minty reduction redolent of coriander and coconut and flaking off the bone.
|Fish Tikka Photos: Mariam Mamaji|
|Tandoori Pomfret Photos: Mariam Mamaji|
Then follow a brief debate on clams vs squid and harder to find fresh clams win to vote as we go in for Clams Classic with butter pepper garlic – lots of crushed garlic, just a hint of butter and unbelievably juicy clams. Xmas excesses be damned, gora and desis alike are digging in all fingers and thumbs by this point. Conversation is swinging from shopping sprees to ‘good Indian girls’ and all sorts of appetites are being whipped up to a storm! No visit to Ankur is complete without the Kerala prawns, which are rubbed with dry spices and grilled to juicy perfection and the spice is well calibrated to excite but not exasperate.
|Clams Butter Pepper Garlic Photos: Mariam Mamaji|
|Kerala Prawns Photo: Mariam Mamaji|
Main course enters in style. The Chicken Kundapur is in its traditional spicy avatar with the flavor of the roasted masalas set off in rich tomato gravy. The Mutton Ajadina follows next with coarse ground spices alongwith grated coconut in dry gravy which pairs admirably with soft cushiony neer dosas, which go down quicker than we can blink!
|Chicken Kundapur Photo: Mariam Mamaji|
|Mutton Ajadina Photo: Mariam Mamaji|
Though it’s not theoretically possible to meet more, we plunder on to the Crab Gassi like any respectably pescetarian would! While this is a staple dish of any indian seafood restaurant Ankur manages to control the spic, bring the flavours to the fore and serves medium size crabs which are just right.
|Neer Dosa Photo: Mariam Mamaji|
As we groan under the goodies the owner reveals the secret of the distinctive taste of the Ankur food, all the spices are sourced directly from his home in Karnataka and coarse ground to keep the texture fresh and intact which pops up on our palate ever so often with each passing dish. That dry paan near the exit is much needed as we stagger out though one of Volga’s saada paans should aid digestion remarkably well too!
Crowd v/s Company
As we said earlier, Ankur aesthetics are heads and shoulders above its relative peers the interiors are done up like a cosy Keralite home with dark wood paneling, wooden beams on the ceiling and a buzz that is busy but not claustrophobic (though we suggest sitting downstairs compared to the slightly cramped mezzanine). The bar is well equipped and well priced like most old-world restaurants if anyone fancies a digestif to wash down a hearty meal.
If its discernible fresh flavours of Indian seafood that you’re looking for, or simply to entertain out of city guests in a hidden Bombay gem look no further than Ankur we suggest!