I was sceptical before visiting Chez Vous (which means, At Your Home) the only French restaurant in the city of Mumbai. Reason being that the restaurant which has now been in operation for the last three months, has received very mixed reviews. However, I decided to go with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised, writes Sonal Holland
My friend and colleague, who works at The Wine Society of India was promptly there before me chatting with Frederic Fernandez, one of the three partners in this venture. Chez Vous is a restaurant programme partner with the Wine Society of India, whereby members can avail of an attractive 50% discount on the first bottle of wine purchased up to a maximum value of Rs.10,000.
Their wine list comprises only French selections, with an earnest effort to provide the customer a fair degree of choice across classic regions such as Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, Riesling from Alsace, Chardonnay from Burgundy in the whites; and Bordeaux blends of Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well as Grenache Syrah blends from the Cote du Rhone region. Although the price range of Rs. 3500 upwards for a bottle seems a tad bit expensive for what are considered ‘value for money’ selections, their ‘By The Glass’ programme seems a lot more reasonable at Rs. 350 to Rs. 650 for a glass of French appellation wine.
For starters, I ordered Roquefort and Hazelnut ravioli to pair with a glass of Saint Cosme Gigondas, a blend of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, which proved to be too delicate to withstand the strong pungent flavours of the Roquefort cheese. However, on its own the wine had a somewhat restrained floral bouquet, good structure, well balanced acidity and a medium length with mineral finish. The bottle seemed well stored, at which point Frederic confirmed all wines are stored at a constant temperature of 8°C, definitely a bit too cold for any kind of wine (which probably explains the restrained nose and dissipating fruit).
The main course was king prawns generously smothered in a butter based reduction of tomato, thyme, shallots, parsley and lemon juice flambéed with pastis. Sounds very exotic but, unfortunately, excess salt overshadowed the delicate flavours of the dish. My friend seemed to be quietly enjoying his main course of red tuna fillet with a sauce of balsamic vinegar and herbs, while Frederic seemed content with his philosophy of serving uncomplicated traditional French cuisine.
The restaurant seemed quite empty and there were only one or two other couples who strolled in for lunch. Frederic admitted that it has taken some time to market the restaurant effectively. My recommendation was that he invest in making the place look more opulent, something I believe discerning customers tend to associate French dining with. Currently, the place has a casual Bistro style of service, albeit prompt and efficient.
From left to right: Frederic Fernandez, Sonal Holland and Chef Cedric Combe