FIO in Fine Fettle
I have been mulling over how to start this piece. Should I begin with how every time I walk into FIO Cookhouse & Bar, I feel sunny and bright just looking at the restaurant? Should I introduce the owner Vineet Wadhwa, who is anyway a prominent figure in the F&B industry for more than 15 years? Or, should I zero in on the food straight away?
Well… After an immersive culinary experience last Sunday at FIO, a threadbare narrative of the victuals, I decide, is the best option. Because, firstly I don’t think any fish I eat hereafter can beat that aromatic sea bass I wolfed down from their new menu. Secondly, consider this me cajoling you to visit FIO at the earliest to savour innovation and flavour served on a plate.
Epicuria is probably the best thing that could happen to Nehru Place. And for me, Epicuria’s hero is FIO, the restaurant that is a tidy gem in terms of interiors, food and ambience. Every time I tell Vineet about how beautifully he has done up the place with browns, ivories and olives, he chortles with a, “Good food needs a good setting.” I couldn’t agree more. There is a steady buzz of stylish ladies tittering with their bubblies, families tucking into fresh salads and pizzas and lovebirds exchanging smiles over their sangrias. This place has successfully obviated the stiffness sometimes characterising fine-diners with a warm vibe.
So, when an invitation came calling to try out the new entrants in the menu at FIO I couldn’t resist the temptation despite recovering from a holiday in Goa. So, there we were, mother, father and child, walking in last Sunday to be welcomed by yellow balloons and pink orchids on the table. While I was greeted with a refreshing London dry betel (a martini made of gin, tonic water, elderflower, betel leaf and lime), the mister settled down with a Fio Negroni (gin, vermouth, aperol and cinnamon). The tot was excited enough with his mango juice.
We started the meal with a zesty burrata and quinoa salad that was perked up with crunchy popped chickpeas, orange vinaigrette, asparagus and beet. Quinoa, the health food anthem these days, fell well with the creamy burrata and the acidic vinaigrette. I had earlier eaten John Dory in a grilled format. So, the golden John Dory piqued my curiosity. What came though were John Dory pounded fish fingers accompanied with an herbs and tomato salsa. It wasn’t very different from the regular fish croquettes.
Though a bit hesitant for a pizza, I ordered the new Pommery Chicken sausage pizza because it sounded scrumptious with the additions of crispy bacon, caramelized onions and a poached egg! I didn’t regret the decision a bit because the crust was perfectly crunchy while the cheese and the egg countered bite in the bacon and sausage wonderfully. Nothing makes a mother happier than watching her offspring enjoy his food. This woodfire-baked pizza, on a balmy summer afternoon, was on dot that way.
It was time for the mains to be dished out and Chef Ravindra Choudhary (who prefers his food to talk) sent out a sea food linguini and a popped quinoa grilled fish. While the linguini tasted like an aglio olio tossed with a spoonful of marinara, the husband thought that the prawns and calamari were cooked to perfection.
I could not find any fault with the fish and I later mentioned to the chef that Fio and Vineet know their sea bass inside out. The fish was fresh and juicy while the snow peas and juliennes of carrots and asparagus were infused in a broth laced with balsamic, kafir lime leaves and lemon. It was impeccable (in absence of a better word to describe this beauty).
Next up was the glazed pork chops (topped with an apple raisin sauerkraut and accompanied by crushed chilli baby potatoes) and the Lazy Herb chicken (pan-seared chicken duet, chive mash, zucchini spaghetti with a cream mustard sauce). I am a bit apprehensive about chicken breasts as they tend to become stiff when not cooked just right. But this meat was succulent and delish. The sauce on the pork chops though was a tad too sweet for my taste.
Desserts at FIO have always been a sweet surprise so I couldn’t wait to try their new 15-min carrot and raisin cake garnished with a warm apple compote with vanilla ice-cream on the side. The child wanted his chocolate fix so we went for a Fio Sundae Mudtini which I’m afraid, wasn’t shared by him. The husband chose a sugarfree Fig and Coconut Cremeux as it sounded unique. Going by the description on the menu, it rightly is for those with a compulsive sweet tooth. A bit too saccharine, I could do without the overpowering coconut taste.
With the father and son engrossed in their own dishes, I got the cake all to myself. That was the best bit. Because, sharing that moist warm cake would be difficult. Make sure to order one separately for yourself when you go to FIO next time. And please, do that soon!