Chef Stephen Gomes’ first venture in India deals with creating unique modern Indian fusion cuisine with the elements of molecular cooking. Food is modulated to perfection, and Chemistry 101 delivers a magical experience.
Evolution is necessary for survival. Our continual attempt to bring ingenious solutions and advances has no end point. And when it comes to food, I cannot foresee a limit to this evolution process.
In this molecular gastronomy era, food has become a mystery where it has surpassed the range of ordinary imagination. Its transformation into surreal experiences by unlocking the secrets in the realms of food forces us to wonder that how far we have come in this culinary world. Taste is just one aspect now – though the most important one; however, the aroma and the beauty of a dish to galvanize our olfactory and visual censors respectively demand the similar importance in this contemporary world.
The delightful chemistry…
May be, I am thinking too much, but my latest sojourn to Chemistry 101 surpassed the intensity of my self-relevant thoughts. The experience was surreal. The spellbinding displays of molecular-gastronomized dishes along with spectacular presentation styles reflected a different period of time. You think that it may be a figment of your imagination. Hell No!! It’s real. It is a dish. But….. Yes, there are ifs and buts, like, what if the taste? Presentation is fine, but the taste?
Hold your horses. Before you make any assumptions, I would like to summarize that the taste was as brilliant as the visual appeal, or may be, the taste aspect surpassed my expectations and took precedence over presentation. The strong punch of beautiful flavors in everything was extraordinary. The meticulously-done dishes not only have a strong visual appeal, but the taste as well stimulates all the other senses. The minimalist decor in this gastro pub might not be a feast for your eyes, but this aspect is offset by the food which is modulated to perfection. Take my word when I say that our foray into Chemistry 101 – three house of incessant eating – was not ephemeral; this magical experience became a cherished and an eternal memory.
The Chef, the magician…
Chef Stephen Gomes helms the kitchen of Chemistry 101. A fourth-generation chef in the family – his father was an executive chef at the Sun and Sand hotel – this cooking maven hails from Mumbai and has been staying in Cardiff (UK) for more than 15 years. He has won numerous accolades and has bagged many awards for his popular restaurant Moksha. He has also held the title of “Best Indian chef in UK” for five consecutive years (2007-2011) and then again in the years 2013-2014. One of his talents lies in creating unique modern Indian fusion cuisine with the elements of molecular cooking.
A Mumbai-born UK resident, Chef Stephen Gomes’ long term plan to open a restaurant in his birth place has come to fruition with Chemistry 101 where, with his invaluable experience in the culinary world, he brings his vision, foresightedness, leadership, and knowledge in his first venture in India. His magic and finesse is evident in the dishes. His culinary prowess in terms of authentic flavors and devastating presentation styles is irrefutable. His consuming passion to cook and serve wonderful food has an intrinsic appeal; this is what he loves to do. His friendly and energetic demeanor towards his customers adds another star to his personality.
On being asked about the madness of Michelin star, chef mentioned, “Honestly, I do not aim for a Michelin star. If I get one, that will be great; but my goal is to make people happy in my restaurant. The Michelin star recognition comes with lot of stress, and I would rather focus on my food to make my customers happy.”
Chef will be in India till May 15. Do not miss the chance to meet him, and he will be equally delighted to connect with you.
The experience – one of a kind
A quintessential part of every restaurant is the flavorful food, and Chemistry 101 does take you to a delicious journey. Their story-telling menu has a nice touch of innovation and has been curated well. Three hours of our incessant eating delivered a sublime experience where the fusion of flavors, smoke, and music was magical. The peculiar names of the dishes further stimulated the excitement where some of them actually blew our minds.
We started with “Emperors Notepad” where the dehydrated carbon dhoklas with peanut chutney and tamarind sorbet were quite a surprise. The super crunchy carbon infused dhoklas were average, but the humble flavors in the entire dish were intact. The classic Caprese salad with the name “Sorry” made us curious where the sight of a mozzarella air balloon with tomato & basil dressing and balsamic vinegar pearls looked crazy, but the freshness of ingredients with amazing flavors did the magic. Chef showcased this highly sophisticated dish in a commendable manner. And for all the lovers of “Doctor Strange”, this extremely delicious and authentic egg bhurji with ketchup caviar and dehydrated lotus stem just left us wanting for more.
The “Sound of the Enchanted Forest”, a vegetable sausage, was a spectacular dish par excellence. The fusion of flavours, cheese-ness, crispiness along with music – where they give you headphones to enjoy the soothing rhythms just for this dish – was exceptional. Its supreme visual appeal where you experience the smoke lifting from the beautiful sausages presented on the bed of cheese and jalapeno sauce on a wooden plate was therapeutic. The chirpiness of birds and the pleasant sound of waterfalls took us to another level where, for the first time, we realized the perfect amalgamation of music with food.
Till now, we were blown away with the appetizers.
In the main course, “Arbi Rogan Josh” with Kung-fu Parantha was our first preference. A curry per se, Arbi was, again, a unification of brilliant gravy and cumin smoke, and its combination with a Parantha was deadly. The rich curry with a lovely dark orange shade was absolutely heavenly. Another dish known as “Three States” is inspired from the three regions of India, and it represents a flavourful merger of makhani gravy from North, mustard seeds and curry leaves tadka from South, and fenugreek from West. Its humble and authentic flavors gave incredible harmony.
The desserts were feast for the eyes. The “Boy who never grew up” dessert was extremely vibrant with crayon sponge, sugar pencil, and candy dust. The creativity was bang on; an unparalleled performance.
There was so much to experience and learn in this sojourn. Every dish has a story, and our intense indulgence in the food, where there was so much to talk about, did not allow us to be on social media for a long time. And that was the another great part of our dinner.
Sky is the limit in this culinary world. Chef Stephen Gomes took us to a magical odyssey in his gastro pub where the authentic Indian flavors are modulated to perfection through the elements of molecular cooking. The experience was one of a kind, and It created an indelible memory.
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N.B. Please note that this was a food review invitation, and the expenses were taken care by the restaurant. Cost for two with drinks: 5000 INR (approx.)