After sampling their Spring and Summer Seasonal tasting menus at Mem Saab, my favourite Indian Restaurant, I and a companion sought to repeat the pleasure with the Autumn Seasonal Menu. As before the format is 5 courses with matched wines, and I declare an interest as I has some say in the matching wines.

Here are my thoughts:

The Amuse Bouche is Tomato Chai paired with Tio Pepe Fino Sherry.
The Chai is a mustard seed and curry leaf infused tomato tea served with onion pakora. The tea is delightfully savoury – piquant rather than hot – and the pakora gives a subtle hint of the spices to come, balancing the liquid with a dryish heat and a hint of sweetness. It really did Amuse my Bouche. However it is mainly a savoury liquid and notoriously hard to match. The sherry doesn’t so much match as carry on the idea of a liquid titillation of the palate… Another mouth watering gateway to the pleasures to come…

The Starter is Sarso Wali Khargosh paired with Villa Maria Gewurtztraminer
This is Robata grilled mustard flavoured Rabbit tikka paired with a fennel salad with accents of prune and seasonal berry compote and apple chutney. The rabbit is fabulous: tender, slightly sweet with a salty spice making a brilliant triangle with the the cool and aromatic fennel (inspired!) and the two sweet accents each with slightly divergent balancing sharp notes. The wine makes this triangle into a square of flavours offsetting each, the rabbit brilliantly – the sweetness dashingly and the fennel adequately. The wine is rich and has a couple of notches of residual sweetness to help balance the salt and sweet flavours. Gewurztraminer is a great match (if I say so myself) but – as so often – I feel the food would merit an example a notch or two up. A Grand Cru Alsace example, for instance!

The Fish Course is Tawe Ki Machchi served with Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Chardonnay
Pan fried Atlantic halibut served with saffron and cumin, kadhai mushrooms. Fabulous dish, fabulously cooked and presented – so taken was I that I neglected to take a photograph. The delicacy and purity of flavour of the fish, somehow dry and rich together with a slight sweetness, is counterbalanced by the warmth and earthy flavours in the mushrooms. Now this wine is a Columbia River Chardonnay from Washington State USA aged in 38% New Oak with full malolactic fermentation, and although “fresh and elegant” by US standards it seems quite big, creamy and oaky and slightly sweet to me. Not the sort of Chardonnay I would usually chose to be fair, but with this dish – a harmony that amplifies the whole dish. Wonderful!

The Main Course is Chettinard Batakh with the Chilean Pinot Noir Terra Andina
This is pan-roasted mallard duck breast, with a crispy duck and cabbage foogat and chettinard sauce. This succulent duck breast and Pinot is lovely,  an expressive combination with the sweetness of the meat counterpointing against the fruit and acidity in the wine. The wine holds up with the foogat too, although the complexity in the food (again) merits more complexity in the wine. The dish  has some accents (anise leaves, spicy peel) that the wine can’t really cope with – and for me anyway are unnecessary for the dish. Pinot Noir is right, with the right fruit and structure, but again a better example would sing even more…

For Dessert: Pear Imarti with Kanu Kia-Ora Noble Late Harvest
Honey caramelized, cinnamon & star anise flavoured pears, with Ice Cream and the Indian Sweet, Imarti. The wine has sweetness and honey notes but a hint of apple acidity  and earthy hints (from Chenin) that acts as another element in the dish. A lovely finish…

All very good indeed. The wine match triumph is undoubtedly the fish with the US Chardonnay. As usual I feel a couple of instances (the Gewurz and the Pinot) when the wine is undoubtedly pleasurable and of the right type but could be of more complexity and depth to do full justice to the impeccable food. The old adage of spending the same on the wine as the food might well apply here. Nevertheless a rare treat…. This menu runs to the end of November, I can’t wait for the Winter one…

Until soon…