Once upon a time, there was Aurus. By far one of the best restaurants in Juhu, it was adored by Mumbai’s superstars and high rollers alike. Success came, controversy followed and, the next thing we knew, it had exploded like a supernova into nothingness. Thankfully, the mourning period was limited by the emergence of another star. It’s ironic then that Estella — the fine-dining restaurant that replaced Aurus — has a name that is inspired by the stars. There’s something indisputably stellar about it. The sun setting over the Arabian Sea brooks no argument. Even before you devour your first delightful Champagne Margarita, the view will have you hooked.
It’s been rued time and time again, that despite having a significant coastline, Mumbai lacks beachfront bars and restaurants. We’ll take the glass-half-full approach and raise our bubbly flute to what we do have: Estella. Book in advance to land a table with a view and you’ll have no cause for complaint.
Linger over the landscape or launch directly into Grilled Warm Pork Belly, Chicken and Zucchini Skewers and Pistachio-Crusted Lebanese Lamb Koftas. A plethora of ‘first plates’ make for a pleasant introduction, with the Roast Brazilian Duck Crostini proving to be particularly memorable. We’re partial to Edamame and our order arrives with Himalayan salt and homemade chilli paste. ‘Bean’ there, done that, you may think, but with a Whisky Sour for company, we’re happy campers.
Dish after dish arrives and is devoured. It quickly becomes obvious that Estella excels at presentation. From micro-greens and edible flowers to quinoa crackling, pretty garnishes come in all shapes and sizes. If you eat with your eyes, sore you shall not be. Sitting by the sea, global ingredients take you on a whistle-stop world tour: Tasmanian scallops, Australian lamb loin, Norwegian salmon and the like. Needless to say, none of it comes cheap — but Estella is an experience; not just a meal.
Tempted to scrape some wasabi onion jam off my plate (the delicious caramelised concoction arrived alongside the Mushroom, Quinoa and Tofu Patties), I forgo fingers in favour of a fork. This is that sort of space. By the beach, but not in flip flops. Awash with the sounds of the sea, but never in bermudas. The only harried executives you will ever encounter here are an arm’s length away, briskly walking by the seashore. After all, on most nights, Estella is to be slowly savoured — except when a VVIP party books the entire restobar for a thumping Bollywood-style bash. Case in point: Priyanka Chopra’s star-studded soiree to celebrate the National Awards she amassed for her home production Ventilator (more on that rocking night here).
Open only for dinner, Estella is as ideal for a romantic rendezvous as it is for sundowners with your swish set. Indulge in an exotic tipple or two (if you like whisky-based cocktails, their Old Fashioned is extra special), dine elegantly on their entrées and ensure that you save room for dessert at the end. Their Plum and Frangipane Tart is not to be missed!
Image Credits: Via Mirabilis for Estella