There seem to be quite a few new Lebanese restaurants opening up in the Lower Parel area recently. With Aqaba and Byblos already there it was time for Ithaka to join in. Through the FBAI a bunch of us Food Bloggers were invited to visit the restaurant and get a small taste of what is on the menu before it opens its doors.
Ithaka borrows its name from a set of Greek islands in the Ionian sea. Seems to be a beautiful place from the photo's I found on google. Must add it as one more place to visit at some point.
The space is located just above Riso. One has to literally walk through the same entrance to enter the space. It's a cute entrance and hard to miss if you are below the bridge going towards SoBo.
The restaurant it self has high ceilings and has a few quirky elements to it with overturned crates covering the beams in the ceilings. They also have cute booths lining the side which would be fun to sit in with mid sized groups.
The tasting menu for the night was supposed to be a small sample of their extended menu.
The extended menu is meant to be printed on wood and was unavailable due to a mix up at the printers. We were lucky enough to get access to it by the end of the night in a print out form but more about that later.
There were a wide range of mocktails available however I'm not a big fan of mocktails in general and have a throat which acts up easily so didnt really try them out.
They do make a pretty picture though don't they?
The soups were quite nice with a Mushroom cappuccino which was very flavorful and a lemon grass soup which was very clean and light. The soups were both on the saltier side, but I guess that is because the stock might have had extra salt. Either that or they are just working the kinks out. I'm willing to give them a pass on this because of the potential the soups had.
For appetizers we had Hummus three ways with all three being quite delicious. We sampled the Olive one, the basil pesto one and the regular one which were served with a plate of warm pita bread. My pick of the bunch was the one with the Olives.
Next up were the wonderfully garlicky battata harra which is potatoes tossed with parsley and loads of garlic topped with thinly chopped veggies as garnish. This was one of my personal favorites of the night. However I am partial to food which has a ton of garlic so your mileage may vary.
We were also served up the Mediterranean mint salad which was beans and cucumber in a hung curd minty dip. The second salad of the night was a super spicy raw mango salad. This dish seems more thai than lebanese. However trying to give dishes a twist was kind of their thing it seems. Not always successfully sadly.
Next up were the sesame zucchini and turkish kebabs. The zucchini was deep fried zucchini fritters with finely chopped veggies and a tomato sauce on top; garnished with sesame seeds. Didn't really work for me. The Turkish kebabs were minced corn kebabs served with a pungent green mustard and were quite enjoyable for me. Others on the table thought that the mustard was too pungent but I like mustard which is quite strong so it worked for me.
We were also served Deviled corn cups, however there was nothing remotely deviled about it nor lebanese and my suggestion would be to not order these at all.
We moved on to the mains at this point, starting off with the Lebanese Falafels with a twist. Now I am all for fusion food and trying to make it taste and look different. The chef has to be excited by something right? This particular one just didn't work though. The dish was quite dry, lacked most of the elements I associate with a Falafel and to be honest was akin to the dry manchurian that we eat.
The next dish which came up was one I might not order when I visit next time, however I would certainly parcel it when the boys visit for a round of beers. Cheesy, gooey and super starchy the Baked potatoes hit all the right notes as bar food to soak up alcohol on a busy night out. As dishes in a lebanese restaurant? Not so sure.
The Moroccan rice was quite delicately flavored and gave me hope that if they move away from the fusion focus that they seem to have they might actually be able to serve up good authentic Lebanese food.
To go along with the mains we were served a crispy za'atar pizza which was crispy, topped with garlic and herbs. I could have eaten multiple slices of these in a heartbeat. There is just something about crisp bread which makes me happy.
The desert in the form of the baklava was quite the disappointment. I'm not going to say much about it as it didn't even seem to be baklava with the phyllo pastry missing completely.
Overall Ithaka is going to do well, given it is a pure veg restaurant. That's it, given the area its in just that is enough for it to do well. They do have a bit of promise however squander it all away when they try too hard to go the fusion way. The menu which we got a glance at promises that a trip here would be not only confusing as to why they call them selves a lebanese restaurant but also on the slightly pricey side given the price points we saw.
Bambaiya veggie visited the restaurant as part of a Bloggers pre-launch invite through the Food Bloggers Association of India.