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Monday, Dec 30, 2002

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Appealing to all senses

G.J.V. Prasad

The new Italian restaurant in the Capital, Senso Ristorante & Bar, is proving to be a hit among its youth. And there's something from the restaurant's kitchen that you could try at yours.

The Senso Ristorante & Bar is located at Basant Lok, also called Priya Complex, one of the favourite hangouts for the Capital's youth today. The restaurant offers fine dining in what is paradoxically a fast food locale. The understated decor ensures that nothing distracts you from your main activity and the music is a pleasant accompaniment to your conversation and, even more importantly, your food. "Senso" means "sense" and the promoters would like to think that the fine dining experience that they have set up will appeal to people's sixth sense. While the music appeals to hearing the food definitely appeals to the other four.

Senso has three levels — the lounge, the mezzanine, and the restaurant. The lounge menu of snacks and drinks including coffee may be enough for many. The newly opened bar serves up some great cocktails as well as mocktails. The mocktails were especially good — try the Strawberry Margarita or the Blue Mist to be convinced, But for real dining drift upstairs, like we did, to the restaurant for really good Italian food and a variety of wines, including some very good Indian ones.

For starters, we had Mozarella, Panjerre, and Sfonnato. Mozarella is warm mozarella cheese with green vegetables and braised truffle puree. If you thought this would be a cheese-lover's choice, what about Panierre, which is a crispy cheese basket that contains a mixed salad with red wine and truffle dressing? Terrina, which is mixed braised vegetables and ricotta cheese cake, with black truffle flavour, was wonderful as well. The starters were enough to signal that we were in a great Italian restaurant.

The main courses that we tasted were Umbro Rissotto, which is a green peas rice dish with chilli and truffle carpaccio, Fonduta, a penne pasta with mixed cheese fonduta and sticks of truffles, and Melanzane, baked eggplant with tomato and mozzarella. The carnivore favourite seemed to be the Sole, which was as you guessed a baked fillet of sole served with capsicum and eggplant made in the `Ratatouille' style.

And the desserts here are really finger-licking good. Try the brilliant Panna cotta, which is double cream flan with vanilla sauce, mixed berry sauce with a very Indian silver foil. The Pramisu passed out test as well, but Crostata was out of the world. This hot dark chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream was my personal favourite.

A meal for two should cost about Rs 1,200. The menu changes every two months, so even if you are a frequent visitor, you may still find wonderful surprises. The fact that there can be such lovely vegetarian Italian as well has already surprised many. The meat dishes are said to be even better by the carnivores. This is a chota multinational food chain with the first and original Senso being established in Singapore, where the restaurant has had great success. The Indian connection has Ajay Jadeja as one of the promoters of this venture. Diwakar Shastri, who is Lal Bahadur Shastri's grandson, is also one of the other directors of this winning venture.

For the food connoisseurs, here's a tried and tested recipe from the restaurant.

Umbrio Rissotto

(Main course - Vegetarian)

Preparation time - 30 minutes

Cooking time - 10-15 minutes

(for four persons)

Ingredients

Rice - 320 gm

Butter - 60 gm

Parmegiana cheese (grated) - 60 gm

Green peas - 80 gm

Onion (sliced) - 60 gm

Vegetable stock - 1.2 litre

Black truffle (chopped) - 40 gm

White wine - 1 dl

Salt and Pepper - to taste

Method

  • Roast the onion with half of the butter until golden brown in colour. Add the rice, white wine and let it evaporate.

  • Add the stock and cook for 20 minutes.

  • Before the rice is ready to serve, take the pan off the fire and add the remaining butter and parmegiana, mixing it very fast.

  • Serve hot.

    So, happy cooking!

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