Inventive cooking built firmly on the classics : Arola at JW Marriott,Mumbai

The city is abuzz with culinary excitement. JW Marriott Mumbai has partnered with two star Michelin Chef Sergi Arola to bring ‘the’ Arola brand to India. Mumbai sure has reason to be proud.

Arola opened its doors over the weekend and offers guests the exclusive flavours of authentic Catalan cuisine. Speaking at the launch, Thomas Guss, General Manager, JW Marriott Mumbai said, “ JW Marriott Mumbai has earned an iconic status over the years in Mumbai and has always been at the forefront of culinary excellence. We aim to continue providing an upscale dining experience. Superlative service in a lifestyle environment that is the hallmark of a memorable time, will make Arola, restaurant and bar, one of Mumbai’s gastronomic landmarks.”

I was fortunate enough to dine with the twice Michelin Star Chef Sergi Arola. He is a delight to be with. Knowledgeable ofcourse, he prefers to simplify cuisine and hates complex stuff. That to his mind, is the real challenge. He likes to be contemporary in the kitchen but without doing away with being traditional. Suave and charming, he draws you into converstaion with convival ease and listening to him speak English, it is hard to believe that he has never learnt the language. He is tired with frenetic activity of the last few days, yet, he is charm and politeness personified, painstakingly explaining each dish and how it is should be eaten.

This culinary maestro loves music, tomatoes, and tandoor. Not neccessarily in that order. Naan is his favourite bread, the world over and he is eagerly waiting to visit Kashmir. A great traveller, he has an insatiable curioisty about people, places and ofcourse food.

A definitive proponent of Spanish heritage, Sergi will delight guests in Mumbai with gourmet Spanish cuisine. A chef who weaves stories of his homeland into his food, he is the proud owner of six celebrated restaurants around the world bringing the first ever outlet to Asia here in India.

He gushes, “India is on the brink of a culinary revolution. I am very excited about bringing the Arola experience to India. The menu will include specially selected mix of all the popular dishes from Arola restaurants all over the world, while also creating signature items for Mumbai. The aim is to surprise the Indian audience with eclectic European cuisine designed especially for their increasingly discerning palate. JW Marriott Mumbai with its location and hospitality philosophy is the perfect fit for an Arola experience”.

The meal with Chef Sergi was a gastronomical journey par excellence. We were offered food in the unique culinary concept called ‘Pica Pica’ – a style of dining where a variety of creative dishes are served on a platter for all to share. The food was presented on small beautiful ceramic, glass and stone plates.  I sampled signature preparations by Chef Sergi Arola. Patatas bravas (“Bravas de AROLA”, deep fried potatoes filled with a spicy tomato sauce and topped with aioli), Sardinas (Marinated fillets, with “Huevas de Arenque”, tomato and toasted bread), Tomates Maduros (Served as a salad, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, marinated tuna and black Alentejo olives) and Gambas (Prawns sautéed with garlic, chili and parsley). The meal was perfect. However, I realised that I did not have a palate for the Spanish rice- the Lobster rice which was served. The rice was semi-cooked (meant to be that way) but definitely not something I or maybe many Indians enjoy. The flavour ofcourse was unparalleled. His cooking is delicate, precise and yet, exploding with flavour.

I am told there are over 30 varieties of Gin on offer at the Bar. Gin is surely back in fashion.

Chef Manuel Oliveira Seller – Chef de Cuisine will oversee the restaurant operations that will ensure a seamless blend of the ambience and experience that “Arola” stands for. A key aspect of the restaurant is contemporary lounge music with distinctive Spanish and Latin influences. Open All days Seating Capacity – 12 bar seating, 3 live counter seating, 20 al fresco, 48 restaurant seating. Dining in Mumbai, I assure you will never be the same again.

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