The city’s second SAZ offers contemporary American fare paired with spirit-forward craft cocktails in a glamorous setting.
There’s no doubt that SAZ American Brasserie is one good-looking restaurant. Walk in through the blue doors and the first thing that strikes you is how spacious it is — bright and airy with high ceilings and full-length windows. Its location on the ground floor of the mall combined with an indoor-outdoor space gives the restaurant a stand-alone feel. Design veers between elegant and casual pop with lavish chandeliers, a brass bar façade, and whimsical bunny rabbit wallpaper on the ceiling. The cosy drinking nook is presided over by a larger-than-life mural of Maya Pistola, the mascot of homegrown agave spirit Pistola by Pass Code Hospitality, which owns SAZ and other F&B brands like PCO, Jamun, etc. across India.
This is SAZ’s second foray in the city, after the much-smaller SAZ Café at Lower Parel, which is meant to be an extension of the BKC outlet. “The menu at BKC is larger since we have a much larger kitchen and infrastructure here. However, the product quality at both outlets is the same,” says Chef Hanoze Shroff, Pass Code Hospitality’s executive chef for Mumbai. Named after the New Orleans cocktail Sazerac, the restaurant is classic Americana on the plate — pizzas, pasta, tacos, burgers, grills, and the like. Dishes are familiar yet elevated to gourmet level without being overly fussy. Expect guacamole prepared table-side, hand-rolled pasta from the live kitchen, and an entire page of desserts, but more about that later.
SAZ’s beverage menu has a range of spirits, wines, and “buzz-free” drinks, but it’s the cocktail menu that catches my eye. Apart from the eponymous Sazerac, the cocktails heavily reference pop culture, whether it’s the bourbon-based Golden Snitch with pumpkin seed milk or Not So Ugly Betty with tequila and spiced pomegranate or Lillibet with tea-infused gin (hat-tip to the Queen, no doubt). Since it’s a hot afternoon, I pick the El Chapo, a refreshing but potent concoction of grapefruit-infused tequila, mezcal, martini blanco, and tonic. Swing by between 4 and 7 pm for “Saz-zy Hours” when a selection of cocktails is available at Rs 550 each (taxes included).
The signature guacamole makes an appearance, deliciously creamy and served with housemade chips, along with the Wafu Garden Salad, an incredibly light salad of hydroponic lettuce, avocado, and cherry tomatoes, topped with an edible togarashi-dusted butterfly made of potato starch and seaweed. “Wafu means spring in Japanese and usually this salad contains seafood and seaweed, but we have made this vegan, almost fat-free version dressed with soy sauce, tamari, and yuzu kosho, which is a ferment made with dry yuzu and wasabi,” says Shroff. I also sample the Hasselback Potato (delightfully indulgent), Prawns a la Plancha (juicy prawns with herby chermoula marinade), and Buffalo Chicken Wings (with a fermented hot sauce that’s too spicy for my taste and a not-particularly-pleasant bitterness from the celery seeds that go into the sauce). But the hands-down winner is the Ricotta and Chilli Oil Toast — in-house baked six-cereal sourdough slice slathered with housemade ricotta and topped liberally with confit tomatoes and a drizzle of chilli oil to finish off. “We use three-four different types of cherry tomatoes that are grown by a farmer in Virar. I like to use seasonal produce and we source the freshest possible from local farmers,” says Shroff as he talks about his food philosophy, which is evident on the plate.
I barely have room for the mains, but I cannot pass up on freshly made pasta so I pick the Capellini with Pumpkin Cream. The pasta may be a tad over al dente but the sauce is silky and just lightly coats the pasta. The surprise element is crispy Margao choriz that ties the entire dish together with its spicy pungency. Shroff also recommends the linguine with porcini cream that has mushrooms imported from Italy, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and crispy garlic flakes.
I end my meal by sampling two desserts — Basque Cheesecake (one of the best in the city with a sweet-tart raspberry and hibiscus sauce) and Berries and Chocolate, a pretty plate of chocolate mousse ‘pebbles’, dark chocolate crumble, pistachio sponge, and seasonal berries. Shroff intends to regularly change the dessert menu and bring in seasonal fruits, so watch out for mango-based desserts this summer. Also on the anvil is a crudo bar that will focus on serving sashimi, carpaccio, etc., not just with local seafood but also vegetarian fare with beetroot, pumpkin, etc. The restaurant also plans to host pop-ups, bar takeovers, and a DJ console will soon turn part of the restaurant into a high-energy space late in the evening.
Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Max: 5 stars)
One dish we loved: Ricotta & Chilli Oil Toast
One dish that didn’t work for us: Buffalo Chicken Wings
Address: Unit G-20, Ground Floor, Jio World Drive Mall, Bandra Kurla Complex,
Bandra East, Mumbai
Timings: Noon to 1 am
Contact: +91-99200 56686
Cost for two: Rs 1,700 (without alcohol) and Rs 3,000 (with alcohol)