I’m probably the last blogger to be sharing her Carnival by Tresind experience with her readers -especially since the media tastings were done over a month ago- but this was one of those cases where you don’t know where to start, because you just know that you can’t possibly weave words beautifully enough to do justice to Chef Himanshu’s creations.
After much ado, I must address the fact that Carnival by Tresind is so completely different from the sister brand, but so consistently satisfying. The menu and themes are completely different, but if you leave your preconceived Tresind notions and expectations at the door, I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed. Carnival by Tresind is setting itself apart from Tresind by aiming to create what they call “post modern Indian cuisine”, which is a very interesting phenomenon because they’re attempting to introduce to Indian dishes ingredients that are native to India but not commonly associated with Indian food, and at the same time they’re trying to share a piece of every team member’s childhood and roots in one menu item or the other.
Like most avant garde dining experiences now, Carnival by Tresind also attempts a 360 degree experience that engulfs you not only through the plate, but even the ambience. I feel that in some aspects they’re trying too hard to force the theme down your throat, especially when the server announces that they welcome everyone with bubbles and so they’ll now surround us with bubbles. But I did like the subtleties homogenizing the theme from every angle, such as how the ribbons on the rolled up menus were always the same color as the chair they were placed in front of.
Here’s what truly sets anything Tresind apart though: Himanshu Saini, the chef de cuisine at both Tresind and Carnival by Tresind. I am yet to meet an Indian chef this engrossed with turning out show-stopping plate after plate of mind blowing food. He truly cares not only about the quality and flavors of the food, but also about customer satisfaction. A restaurant doesn’t simply achieve Tresind status without the enthusiasm and fervor this man has towards food, but I think the owners, management and marketing team also deserve a round of applause, because Tresind’s (and now Carnival by Tresind’s) rise to fame and dominance and is case study of success in its own.
The menu consists of 45-50 small, medium or large sized plates, which is great because this means there’s something for people of every appetite. They also have a lunch special called the “Airline Chicken”, which allows corporate diners to enjoy a a complete meal within the limited window of the office lunch break; and since the diners get all courses at once. they can pace themselves as they please.
Without more rambling, let’s get straight to the food and talk about my favorite dishes at Carnival by Tresind. Now I’ve already been to Carnival by Tresind twice, so brace yourself for a lot of pictures.
“Makhan Phal”, the Indian word for avocado, is also the name of this amuse bouche. It comprised of a tangy avocado puree atop a cacao butter hive. If I had tried this blindfolded, in a neutral environment, I would never have pegged this to have come from an Indian menu because the flavors were anything but. It was, however, interesting.
Probably one of my favorite appetizers in any restaurant, the “Happy Halloween” is a steamed bread filled with sweet and sour pumpkin and cheese, and shone a new light on how delicious savory pumpkin can be. I cannot stress enough on how delicious this was.
“Eat Dessert First” is the name of this little beauty but it’s very much a savory appetizer. By placing a jalebi a top this savory channa chaat instead of the standard papdi, the crispy bits stay crispy throughout and this is a brilliant execution on a classic favorite.
For some reason, none of the mocktails at Carnival really blew me away. All of them were overly sweet, and barring the the pomp and frills, nothing about them was memorable.
Lychee Lemongrass mocktail. Again, too sweet for my liking but I was impressed by how it kept spurting “smoke”. Very entertaining.
Due to a large number of requests for lentil soup in Ramadan, Chef Himanshu decided to (very creative) offer a lentil soup on the menu. There’s no way there could be a drab item on a Tresind menu though, so it comes with a tempering of truffle butter and in a very frothy state, aptly called “Daal Cappuccino”. It’s even served at the same temperature that cappuccino is, at 65-67 degrees. I would seriously drink this by the gallon if I could.
The Vada Pav service. This is an homage to the blue-collared workers in India whose budgets only allow then a snack of Vada Pav. Staying true to Tresind’s reputation of guaranteed table-side entertainment, the Vad Pav ingredients are brought in a toolbox and assembled right in front of you. Verdict on the taste: if vegetarian food can always taste this good, I’d quit all meat in a heartbeat.
Mutton Dressed as Lamb. Only Chef Himanshu can make me eat lamb/mutton and actually enjoy it. Sorry, Grandma. This is a mutton chop, wrapped in lamb galoti kabab, cooked to perfection and then drenched in Nihari jus. Oh. My. GOD. This was so good I wanted to actually cry. The layers and depth of flavors was above and beyond.
And just when I thought the Mutton Dressed As Lamb was a one off case, I cautiously tried this chicken and lamb haandi, only to be blown away of course, and go for seconds and thirds till the whole haandi was wiped clean. Why you do this to me, Chef, why? Cry. THIS is why I love Tresind, because it’s not just shenanigans, and the food is always so rich in flavors that you can’t stop eating even when your stomach begs you to.
The Utterly Butterly tenderloin strips served with vegetable cheese toast and drenched in more liquified Amul butter. An homage to an Indian household name, but quite frankly it’s overkill on the butter and my arteries really don’t need butter that doesn’t add significant value to the dish.
The “Burj” ramen. The ingredients were brought to our table in a stack of bamboo steamers, which I’m sure is just to allow for a “Burj” to be created. the Ramen was then assembled on our table, and this was hands down one of the best broths I’ve ever had. It was a sour and spicy take on the Nepali Thukpa soup and it was phenomenal. Even the meatballs were tender and beautifully seasoned. I really don’t have the words to do justice to the umami this ramen was.
More table-side entertainment but this one got a little boring, but then again art has always bored me. One of the chefs used squid ink to first paint what we can expect to eat, and then plated the food. There was Hokkaido scallop, semolina crusted seabass, and lobster. The scallop was slow cooked at 60 degrees and hence very tender yet perfectly cooked. The fish was a tad dry but overall it was a good platter.
The notorious Airline Chicken. I LOVED the presentation and I find this to be such a clever execution.
Spoiler Alert though: I didn’t like the actual chicken itself. This is because it was chicken terrine in something like a butter chicken gravy, and I never, ever, ever like terrine.
I loved the dessert though. It was rich, chocolatey and indulgent.
Softshell Crab curry: more proof that these guys just can’t go wrong with any of their curries. Layers and layers of velvety flavors, my oh my. I would bathe in this if I could, but I don’t think it would be wise to smell like crab curry.
I hate to sound basic, but I get most excited when food is plated in a totally ‘gramable way. There are many things that Tresind and Carnival by Tresind are doing right, and one of them is definitely the plating. The presentation of the food doesn’t always make sense ( for example the froggy drink thing that I totally knocked over by accident), but this dessert made me instantly go WOW. I didn’t even care how it would taste (and btw it tasted AMAZING), I was just way too excited about what a great picture this would make– and it did. The dessert itself was a guava sorbet stuffed inside a hollowed out guava, and a generous sprinkling on strawberry chaat masala on top. Every time I see this picture, I want a guava. So much love for this dessert.
The perfect ending to the perfect meal: a paan flavored macaron with some gold leaves on top!
We always talk about the food and the chefs but little credit is given to the hard working and enthusiastic servers whose hospitality and attention really makes our meal so special. Here’s a shout out and thank you to the other Himanshu at Carnival By Tresind, who knew so much about every dish and spoke about it with such passion that I had to ask him if he’s a chef too. Thank you, to the entire team at Carnival by Tresind for being as supremely awesome as you are. So much love for you all.