2022 was a good year of dining. This was no doubt spurred in part by a combination of pent up travel and seeking out comfort food during the roughest year of my life. I’m in the middle of a multi-country tour of Asia and visited India for the first time to attend a friend’s wedding in Mumbai. While the week was filled with wedding festivities and food (and what a magnificent wedding it was!), I made a point to squeeze in one dining reservation at Masque Restaurant. I’m very glad I did, because Masque ended up being my favorite dining experience of 2022.
Founded by director Aditi Dugar and chef Prateek Sadhu, Masque is a modern Indian restaurant leading the way for fine dining in India. Although exec chef Sadhu has since left Masque this year, the remaining team led by head chef Varun Totlani has continued to excel in their vision. I had lofty expectations going into my dinner, having read the many online accolades and admiring Dugar’s story as a female founder. Well, my expectations were easily surpassed! Not only was the food incredible, the cocktail program was equally impressive, and the service made for an incredibly thoughtful and delightful experience.
Masque offers a 10 course vegetarian or non-veg tasting menu, with an optional wine/cocktail pairing. Craft cocktails from Masque’s Living Room concept upstairs are also available a la carte. Course after course, there wasn’t a single miss for me. The menu started out strong with elevated makkai mathri, which was presented as a corn chip paired with sweet, hearty corn dip. Other standouts included a DIY barramundi pani puri, BBQ pork with crispy rice breading, and a satisfying lamb course with sheermal bread to soak up the rich, mole-like sauce.
One of my favorite moments was the kitchen tour, where we were served a palate cleanser of bright ginger ale sorbet and fresh pomelo. The staff took a polaroid of us in front of a whiteboard that displayed the date, the number of days the restaurant had been open, and a motivational message: “You did not wake up today to be mediocre.” We didn’t see the final polaroid until the end of the meal, just another way Masque delighted us!
The dessert courses were also incredible. A gajar halwa and ghevar dish had memorably chewy, sweet carrots and bright passionfruit ice cream. And the chocolate dessert, presented in cacao pods, was probably my favorite dish of the meal. I loved the incredibly round chocolate flavor, the smooth and crunchy texture contrasts, and the accompanying soft, gooey cacao flesh and chocolate pieces. Even my friend who is not much of a chocolate fan enjoyed it.
Finally, I have to mention the strong cocktail program at The Living Room, led by beverage manager Ankush Gamre. The specialty cocktails are created through a liquid nitrogen emulsification process, with the resulting clear cocktails being deceptively light and clean in taste. Masque also offers a ‘625’ custom cocktail experience, where you pick different ingredients from a list and are given a personalized cocktail recipe and number that Masque will remember for future visits.