Review: Travel through the Levant via good food at the new diner Sette Mara
Think crumbly knafeh, succulent kebabs, refreshing salads and fun tipples, all under one roof
Mumbai rains and exasperatingly long traffic jams were all forgotten as we stepped through the doors of Sette Mara, Lower Parel's latest Middle Eastern lounge, bar & kitchen situated inside the opulent St. Regis Mumbai hotel. With a vast menu and swanky interiors, this new spot is all anyone can talk about lately. We dropped by to see what the hullabaloo was about, and how much of it was true.
The first thing we noticed was the ceiling's large navigational constellation compass that is suspended overtop. From Moroccan lanterns and tinted mirror-work to the roomy couch seating and a more close-packed bar that's set up in front of a large wall of colourful plates, the interiors have the ability to transport you entirely. As we sat down amid shades of rust and blue that adorn the space, we felt that the decor had both a calming and energising effect on our party.
What We Tried
We started our meal with—there you guessed it—a mezze spread that included hummus generously topped with spiced, minced chicken and muhammara served alongside soft pita that somehow managed to stay warm well into the meal. To sip on, we picked the Sette Mara aromatic vodka spritz that was delicately flavoured with elderflower and the non-alcoholic Turkish hibiscus iced tea.
Out of the salads, we chose the house fattoush which upon having one bite, we knew was already a top contender for our favourite spot. From the Khachapuri selection, we first ordered the chicken one and then, the zhoug and truffle oil variant that was cheesy and green. For appetisers, we opted for all the proteins. The chicken joojeh kebab, the Kataifi prawns that were deep-fried and had a fun chilli pomegranate labneh to go with it and the lamb and bell pepper souvlaki, served alongside a creamy garlic dip.
Finally for the mains, we got the falafel crusted halibut with the true treasure under the fillet— a harissa lemon caper butter. And the vegetarian main was an Israeli couscous risotto, a dish we almost skipped, but glad now that we didn't. For the finale, dessert was a goat cheese ice cream that had visible specs of ras-el-hanout in it, baklava that was familiar and the creamy knafeh, which is what really stole our hearts.
Right from the start, the fattoush salad was a crowd-pleaser. The greens were crisp, chicken flavourful and a dressing so zesty, that it was literally all things that you want from a good salad. There was also some special ingredient in the dressing that stopped us from thinking we could replicate it at home. We would surely go back for the risotto. The large couscous pearls had a hefty bite to them and took the place of arborio rice, no questions asked. And the wild mushrooms and labneh with sumac made for a delicious sauce that had us wondering hard how it all came together so perfectly. Noting that creating outstanding vegetarian offerings is not easy in a cuisine like this, the Chef went on to say that no one who has tried that risotto had anything bad to say and honestly, we get why. The chicken was also succulent, saffron-forward and well-cooked—a true mark of kitchen know-how. And while we were unsure of the fish at first, eating all the components together really surprised and delighted our palate, converting our maybe into a huge yes!
What didn't work
The chicken khachapuri felt too pizza-like and we thought that more focus on Middle-Eastern ingredients could have made it more exciting. And while we were huge fans of the dip that came with it, the prawns had too thick of a coating and left our mouths and hands oily. As for the desserts, we felt let down by the goat cheese ice cream, a treat that has so much potential. But not all is lost.
If you're looking for a place that's fresh, fancy and does a mean cocktail, look no further. It's perfect for birthdays or baby-showers, first dates or a girls' luncheon. And with food from all over the Levant, there are options for everyone. All in all, despite the traffic and the rain, it's safe to say that the meal was worth it.