Restaurant Review: Indego by Vineet
Back in 2005, when Michelin-starred maverick Vineet Bhatia brought his contemporary take on Indian classics to Dubai, he had little to prove. His UK restaurants, Urban Turban and Rasoi, had already taken London by storm, the latter furnishing Bhatia with a coveted Michelin Star. Life was good, but Vineet wanted more. His cleaner, lighter approach to the recipes of his childhood had been embraced in Europe, but recreating this success on the bloated Dubai cuisine scene would be a different matter. Or at least it would have been, if Vineet didn’t love a challenge so much. Bullied at school, for being shorter than his classmates, he developed a thick skin and a quick wit, traits that have served him well in the competitive restaurant world. Luckily for us, the man with his heart once set on becoming an airline pilot, is now flying high in the UAE, and seven years down the line, Indego is still one of the Emirates’ most popular spots.
Food for thought…
Forget oily, deep-fried disasters, masquerading as appetisers; followed by heavy, creamy sauces, coating mysterious meat and overcooked vegetables, disguised as main courses. When Vineet came to town, he tore up the Indian restaurant rule book. At Indego, traditional dishes are turned upside down and reborn lighter with a modern twist. Popular appetisers include deliciously al dente tandoori broccoli and tomato chutney, creative crab and lentil soup or a refreshingly light pomegranate and potato salad, while mains, from the delicately poached prawns in masala gravy to the perfectly-flavoured ginger lamb chops, delight the senses. Desserts range from the tangy pineapple batons, dusted with spices and cracked black pepper, to the sweeter white chocolate semolina and the marbled chocolate and almond samosas, each as lovingly prepared and presented as the next.
The vineet vibe
Think dimly-lit, with a hint of danger. Winding corridors lined with exotic masks lead to the main dining area, which houses tables carefully partitioned by mahogany latticing to create a sense of warmth and intimacy. Minimalist, muted paintwork lightens the mood, adding to the feeling of uncluttered and subtle opulence. Handcrafted leather Indian mojiri’s of gold and silver thread serve as decoration, hinting at days gone by. Four beautiful antique bronze statues serve to preserve the traditions of Indian culture, with a subtle contemporary twist. Indego respects the past, loves the present and relishes the future.
Vineet: The Story So Far...
1967: Vineet Bhatia is born into an educated middle class family in Mumbai. His first passion in life was planes, followed by his mother’s first love, cooking.
1985 to 1988: Vineet completes catering college in Mumbai, followed by an economics degree. 1988: Recruited as a trainee at The Oberoi hotel group in Delhi, Vineet moves up the ranks to become Chef De Cuisine.
1993: Moves to London to work at the Star of India on Old Brompton Road, South Kensington. He transforms the menu and becomes a name to watch.
1998: Teams up with Iqbal Wahhab to conceptualise Cinnamon Club.
1999: Opens Zaika, first in Chelsea, then in a new home on Kensington High Street.
2001: Zaika awarded a Michelin star, making Bhatia the first Indian chef-restaurateur to receive this honour since the inception of the guide.
2001: Consults on the opening of Mushq at the Manor, India’s first boutique hotel in Delhi.
2002 to 2004: Consults on the opening of Tantra on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
2004: Opens Rasoi – meaning kitchen – in London, fulfilling his dream of having his own restaurant.
2005: Opens Indego at Grosvenor House, Dubai.
2006: Awarded Michelin star at Zaika for the second time.
2006: Indus opens in Moscow, offering Vineet’s menu.
2008: Maharajah by Vineet opens in Saudi Arabia at Movenpick Hotel, Al-Khobar
2008: Rasoi by Vineet opens at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Du Rhone, Geneva.
2008: BIRD (British Indian Restaurant Design), a Casino in Leeds, houses Vineet’s take on Indian grill incorporating Tak-a Tak, Tawa and Sigri. It also showcases the tossed Roomali Roti.
2010: Rasoi: New Indian Kitchen, Vineet’s first cook book with 150 of Vineet’s recipes is launched. 2010: Saffron Lounge opens in the Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar.
2010: Ziya opens at The Oberoi, Nariman Point, Mumbai. Ziya signifies the ‘return of the Prodigal son’. That son is chef Vineet Bhatia, who has returned to the hotel 25 years after training at the Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development.
2012: Vineet now lives in London with his wife Rashima and their two sons Varaul and Ronit.