Google Maps leads me far away from the actual location of Terttulia, to the throng of thriving, shouting, densely populated Dadar.
When I finally locate Hotel Parkway, I discover a space emulating a quintessentially ‘Europe in winter’ vibe: sleek grey interiors which emanate a kind of faded elegance more kitsch than girly.
The pleasantly thick menu at Terttulia reads more like a novel, bound and etched with chic drawings.
Upon perusal however, I am dishearted to read a menu which severely lacks originality – dishes which appear to have been taken straight from an established eatery, right down to the font style and description.
To be honest, I am not compelled to try anything. I embark on a desperate search for a somewhat original dish; with difficulty I manage to squeeze a few from the list.
The bacon-wrapped dates are a shock to behold – an unappealing shape and colour, I am reluctant to engage in a tasting.
The only thing that appeases my senses is the gently wafting smell of bacon, which snakes around my nostrils in a charming fashion and gently persuades me to proceed.
I’m glad I did.
Sweet and tart, the soft chewiness of the honeyed dates go beautifully with the impeccably marinated bacon, which itself is thick and good quality.
The accompanying mustard sauce balances with sweetness with a pungency made subtle by a hint of cheese and olive oil.
This is a dish one could dine on endlessly.
The pizza combinations spied on the menu aren’t groundbreaking, so I devise my own comprising mushroom, olive and chorizo.
Fresh basil leaves add a nice element to a pizza which is generous with its topping; featuring an extra-thin crunchy base which shatters like glass with each bite.
The flavour of the pizza is passe, lacking a certain spark to push it into the realm of true deliciousness – I find it necessary to add tobasco sauce for lubrication and piquancy.
The sound of the lamb wrap genuinely rouses enthusiasm- lamb with three cheese and aioli? Get at me!
Like a blind date gone wrong, the dish which seats itself in front of me sounds better in print – revealing what looks like an obligatory amount of minced, processed meat, encased in a thin roll layered with what can only be described as ‘green’.
I take a bite and taste neither cheese nor the flavour of meat; more overwhelming is the presence of mint which makes for not a bad dish, but nothing at all different to the options currently available at late night, illegal takeaway shops.
I take another, half-hearted bite then stop dead in my tracks. A white hair, peeking out of the meat which I was about to consume. I drop the roll and call the waiter over. He looks confused, then takes the dish away.
Management approach me and apologise mechanically for the oversight, taking it off the bill at the end. I try to put it out of my head and move onto the next dish.
Ignoring the feelings of deflation and disappointment, I take a peek at the desserts on display behind the glass.
Plastic wrap encumbering each piece gives a staid, manufactured look instead of the now-expected “baked fresh on premises” feel.
Again the menu does not dazzle in terms of innovation with desserts, so I reluctantly pick the cream cheese brownie.
I dig my spoon into the soft, warm flesh studded with nuts and drizzled in molten chocolate sauce.
Familiar, textbook flavours of refined, mouth-melting cocoa coupled with the usual nutty crunch comfort me somewhat, but fail to really enthuse.
The service at Tertullia is not great – my waiter paces past my table distractedly, while my used plates pile up in the corner of the table, uncleared and unnoticed.
There is a distinctly sombre mood amongst all staff and I must admit I leave the premises experiencing some relief.
First and foremost the restaurant should attempt to create an original menu in order to forge its own identity – the decor of the place is so beautiful that the lack of confidence in the food preparation and menu is a genuine shame.
Service 5, Food 5.
Terttulia is located at Hotel Parkway, Ranade Road Extension, Off Cadell Road, Beside Mayors Bungalow, Near Dadar Shivaji Park.