Veiled amidst the grotty, unlit lanes of Lakshmi Mills, Masque‘s moniker might seem curiously apt. Getting to this fine-dining restaurant requires a plunge through the bowels of Mumbai’s abandoned cotton district; masked within an unmarked, unremarkable warehouse, there’s little sign of the culinary magic pulsing beneath.
Step through the door of Mumbai’s trendiest farm-to-fork restaurant, however, and a whole new face is unmasked: minimal, modernist, yet undeniably luxe.
Designed by ace architect Ashiesh Shah, Masque embodies much of his design philosophy of wabi sabi – the Japanese aesthetic of a beauty that is imperfect and incomplete. The space offers a distinctive interplay of raw and polished surfaces, beginning with the floors – an amalgam of sleek white marble and dark textured slate.
As you stroll through the 4,500-square-foot restaurant, Le Corbusier’s maxim might come to mind: ‘space and light and order’. During the day, long skylights let in a wash of natural light, illuminating the clean curves and pure lines shaping the space.
Think sharply undulating walls inspired by the structures of modernist maestros like Le Corbusier, an arch which elegantly conceals the stairway, and soaring double-volume ceilings. By night, the whimsical test-tube lightbulbs take centre stage, hanging by the dozen overhead.
The curves of Masque’s interiors are mirrored in its rounded leather chairs, plush enough to sink comfortably into for hours on end. Here you can work your leisurely way through Masque’s seasonal 10-course chef’s tasting menu, crafted around the best of India’s underappreciated produce. From sea buckthorns foraged in Ladakh to yak’s cheese from up north, each dish – like the space it’s savoured in – marries an emphasis on natural materials with modern experimentation.
What anchors the airy space is a site-specific installation by Kolkata artist Rathin Barman, involving a sculpture of upright and slanting girders that cleaves the room. Rising darkly between the bar and main dining area like an urban ruin, it’s a striking nod to the modernisation of Mumbai’s textile mills which made possible Masque’s setting.
With an R&D lab freshly launched this year – a sleek freestyle kitchen-slash-private dining space, set a stone’s throw from the restaurant – Masque is clearly set to make more waves for gastronomic invention in Mumbai. For now, though, it’s already pushing the envelope for industrial chic.
Masque is located at Unit G3, Laxmi Woollen Mills, Shakti Mills Lane, Off Dr. E. Moses Road, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai 400011, p. + 91 22 4973 7431/32. Open Tues-Sat 7.30pm–1am, Sunday 12.30pm–2.30pm and 7.30pm–1am. Closed Mon.