Variety

STAX restaurant review - An old favourite gets a new twist

Michael Swamy | Updated on: Sep 21, 2011
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It was an evening to remember where great wine was paired with excellent food to create an amazing gastronomical experience. Started in 2004, STAX, the restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in Mumbai originally specialised in serving seafood. It has since slowly evolved into a fine dine Italian restaurant.

Through the years, the restaurant has seen three expat chefs at its helm. The newest chef to take charge is Chef Luca who graduated from the Instituto Alberghiero F.Martini in Montecatini, Italy. Since the age of ten, Luca had developed a passion for cooking by watching his grandfather cook and by accompanying him for all the food festivals around Italy. After having apprenticed at some of the finest restaurants in Italy, he is now based in Pune. Currently, he is in Mumbai to promote STAX's latest Italian food festival and the new menu. Chef Luca has been in India for 15 months and is promising a change, introducing an array of new delights, while retaining some of the old favourites.

An open kitchen

The advantage of the open kitchen at STAX is that you can see your food being prepared. Many customers like to sit at the counter running parallel to it to gain the full experience of being a part of a bustling kitchen. The Roma tomatoes on display seem to be in sync with the colours on the plate, making the meal almost magical. As the open wood fire oven is in the coffee shop area, one may not get served a typical pizza in the restaurant, but one can get a glimpse of what is on offer. Instead, I experience something new by tasting the freshly made pasta which is the common element or rather accompaniment to Italian food. The rates at the restaurant are reasonable, averaging between Rs 500 to 1,500 per dish and the new Toscano based dishes are different from the Italian fare available.

An Italian feast

To begin any meal one needs to try out the ciabatta bread. The warm, slightly crusty ciabatta is a speciality of the house. Eaten with a dip made of tomato paste, vinegar, olive oil and pine nuts, it makes the most basic of foods a delight. Two traditional soups are highlighted on the menu, a tomato soup and a seafood Cacciucco among other delights like artichoke hearts cooked with cherry tomatoes and lemon. The beautifully arranged Panmolle, where diced tomatoes and onions are encased in a cucumber shell and dressed with a traditional bread and olive oil vinaigrette makes for a nice accompaniment to the main course. The meat dishes with pork and lamb seem inviting and the main herb used is rosemary whose aroma permeates the kitchen area. Light and flavoursome from the use of fresh herbs, the meals are plated beautifully and one needs to take a moment to appreciate the visual design as one reaches for one's cutlery. Dishes of freshly made pasta like Pici alla senese which is pasta cooked in butter and anchovies, gnocchi made with fresh ricotta cheese and my eternal favourite, the tagliatelle which is a flat pasta served with roasted zucchini and mint tantalise the palate. Having stuck to a Chardonnay wine the entire meal, I cannot help but finish it with dolci, the Italian term for dessert or sweet. While the traditional tiramisu, which is to kill for and looks like it will stay on the menu for eons, is available, other delights like frozen vanilla and chocolate pound cake with a hint of raspberry coulis make for an interesting combination.

Wine and dine

The restaurant boasts of a well stocked wine table which is very visible as one enters the single-tiered dining area. Wine has always brought about a union of sorts with food and the Italians definitely know how to take this union to new heights. Several well known Italian brands feature on the menu.

The ambience of STAX is large and inviting. The use of chrome and mirrors give it a totally romantic and warm feel at night. The candles in their red holders, tastefully done napkins and fine crockery and cutlery take the dining experience to a level above the ordinary. The restaurant is open for dinner only. So step in and take in the experience.

What: A new menu featuring Italian cuisine

Where: STAX, The Hyatt Regency Mumbai

How much: Rs 3,000 approximately for a meal for two

Published on September 21, 2011
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