I had reviewed Michelin starred chef Atul Kocchar’s restaurants, NRI and Lima back in early 2016 when both were freshers on the Mumbai restaurant scene. Since then they’ve tried to constantly reinvent themselves by introducing high tea menus, updating and innovating the existing menu and now with an exhaustive Sunday brunch that features the best from both the restaurants, which are as different as chalk and cheese. While the former serves up global Indian fare, the other emphasizes on cocktails and small plates from the South American region. Win win, I’d say!
Anyone who knows me remotely well, knows that I adore Sunday brunches. (I’d marry Sunday brunch if I could.) This extreme affection is the behind the Brunch Diaries series on the blog. Having become a Sunday Brunch maestro by now, I can assuredly say the NRI X Lima Sunday brunch has all the ingredients a good brunch should have, albeit being a bit unconventional.
Firstly, the entire brunch service is a ‘sit down’ experience, which means you choose what you want off the menu and the server brings it to your table, freshly prepared from their open kitchen. Which is much better than a buffet spread where the food has been left out for hours and honestly it can get quite overwhelming to choose from such a large spread.
Secondly, the brunch menu is exhaustive and covers the best dishes from both the restaurants with plenty of options for veggies as well. The portion sizes are perfect for brunch – ‘small’ plates indeed – which makes it possible to sample a number of items off their menu even if you’re not dining in a large group. You may order seconds (and thirds) of your favourite dishes, which we ended up doing, which works out perfectly for both the diner and the restaurant.
Our meal started off with Lima’s signature Ceviche Classico, a traditional Peruvian dish of cured fish. Here the sea bass came cured in a citrus marinade aka Leche de Tigre (Tiger’s milk) which imparted both astringency and heat to the fish. A must order! Another favourite from the Lima stable was the Chicken Gochujang – chicken cooked with the Korean miso paste rounded off with honey to cut the heat. We ended up repeat ordering this one since it was the perfect amalgamation of spice and sweet. The Huevos Rancheros was up next – a Mexican breakfast dish comprising of a a tortilla topped with a runny sunny side up, salsa, pico de gallo and beans. What’s not to love?
From the kitchens of NRI we decided to try the Calamar Crostillant or Mauritian style batter fried squid rings. I could overlook how rubbery the squid had turned, but can’t fathom why you’d decide to present a squid ink aioli on a black plate. It just didn’t do justice to the beautiful presentation. The Parsi in me insisted on ordering the Ikan Bakaror an Indonesian styled grilled sea bass in banana leaves which rendered the fish moist and full of flavour. #TeamPatraNiMacchi. The Sri Lankan breakfast dish, Egg Hopper, on the other hand needed a sprinkling of green chillies or a chutney on the side.
Talking about Sri Lanka, I remember indulging in a beautiful dry pork and pineapple dish in Galle one afternoon. The Kandy Pork Curry at NRI brought back happy memories of that lunch. In both cases the peppery pork was cooked perfectly. We paired this with theBuss Up Shut – a crumpled up roti that owes it’s name and origin to the Caribbeans. It broke my heart to not see their signature Bunny Chow feature on the brunch menu, however. I guess you win some, you lose some.
If you have any space left for dessert, which in high probability you may not, ensure you order the Enamorado. This rich and indulgent baked chocolate mousse rounded off with a hit of Pisco – a Peruvian alcohol – is the perfect way to round off your indulgent brunch. Having visited the restaurant both times previously during dinner service, I can assuredly say NRI looks far more stunning and lively during the day with natural light flooding through the glass paneled walls, adding onto the ‘brunch quotient’ of the restaurant.
The NRI X Lima Sunday brunch is priced at Rs 1300 ++ for food, and Rs 1550 ++ with non alcoholic beverages. The Cocktail brunch is a steal in my opinion, at Rs 2000 ++ with unlimited cocktails such as their rum based NRI Brunch Punch that makes you wish you were on a tropical island nursing the cocktail. Or the heady Espresso Hazelnut Martini, or a bubbly Mimosa to wash it all down. Ohh, what the hell….get them all!
At NRI, Maker Maxity, North Avenue 2, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai.
(The author was invited to dine at NRI. The views are unbiased and entirely her own.)