Friday, August 14, 2015

Rest : Tanjore by Angie 
Loc : Near the Colaba Fire Station
Meal : Dinner 

Most people know what a sucker i am for a good south indian meal, especially one that goes beyond the idli-vada-dosa trinity. A long time ago there used to be a Tanjore at the Taj and i have only faint memories of the place, mostly about some sort of jali screen or pillars, i cant be sure. Anyway, this Tanjore by Angie, has been open for a while and i have been meaning to make it there but didn't quite make it until now. 


The space is small and the vibe was what you would get at an East London joint, very quaint, functional with limited seating. The menu has a few different types of Idli, Vada, Dosa, Uttapam& Upma. They also serve a Thanjavur tiffin which is like an udipi platter with a helping of the above and a meal which i ordered. 


The filter coffee was nice, not to sweet, not too strong either though. Id say it was decent but not nearly as good as say a idli house but then again, little else is. 


The Molgapudi Idli in Til oil were fabulous. Three largish idlis coated with podi just how you would want it. Just brilliant. Served with some ordinary chutneys but a brilliant, sourish sambar , surprisingly like they make at my parents. 


The chaas is a must get, not too sourt but served super chilled. All ive ever wanted with all my restaurant meals at a Ramanayak or a Mani's has been chilled chaas but its never possible. 


So the other meal they do is the thali, which is a platter for one person and consists of a Rasam, Sambar, Pickle, Cured, Sweet, Parotta, Rice, Kadi, a dry potato vegetable and a gravy. Overall this was not too bad, the potato was like the dosa stuffing, the kadi was okay. Rasam was decent but served lukewarm. The sambar as i mentioned already was great. Ideally, they need to take this up a few notches to make it noteworthy. 

Overall, the menu is very interesting looking, there is even an appam id like to try at some point. So if you go there, avoid the thali, it promises a lot and delivers little, however going by the idli and the coffee, their strengths lie perhaps in the more familiar dishes, some of it which look delectable. 

Since its mostly a no-frills joint, the prices arent terribly high but certainly not udipi grade.The service is quick and friendly and i would like to give them a go for the rest of the menu. Folks who have been to Dakshinayan wouldn't find this to be below par. 

Food : 7/10
Service : 8/10
Damage 600 for 2. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sunday Brunch @ JW Cafe

Rest : JW Cafe
Meal : Sunday Brunch
Loc : JW Marriott Hotel, Sahar. Belly of the International Airport

This past Sunday we got to partake in the Sunday brunch at the new J.W. Marriott, Sahar, which is right in the belly of the international airport. While i am not one to travel far for a bite, on Sunday, the route drive was about 25 mins and my parents were residing at the hotel to boot, so it was a decision made fairly easy, since we had to go pick them up. (Now, justifications done, onward)


The Juhu JW Marriott, is a massive property with half a dozen restaurants and bars and the new Hotel is much smaller with fewer dining options, however, they have done a stupendous job with the rather boringly named JW Cafe, which is way better than the gargantuan but ultimately middling Lotus Cafe. 


While its pretty, well furnished and large its not quite the centerpiece that Lotus Cafe is. Anyway, enough comparison. There is a lovely section by the windows and insist on table, 1-6, which are by the doors leading to the garden. Well lit yet offering a semblance of privacy as they are a bit away from the main dining section.

Now, even as brunches go, this was one massive spread, food was laid out in every corner and you were not more than 10 feet away from a bite. You place your order at a counter and they serve you on the table which beats having to queue.


I started with the soup, the choice was a clear Thai soup or a Tom Yum. I chose the Tom Yum which was close to a Tom Kha, with a strong coconut base. It was excellent, despite the base, it was spicy, hot deliciousness topped of with some mushrooms. 


Next up, the Mezze section, was end to end with hummus, tabuleh, ganoush, labneh, moutabal as well as rice and some more meat dishes. It was just wow, easily one of the star turns, not a single thing that was not up to the mark. They even had a chef warming pita and making falafal pockets if one were not inclined to do so.


The falafals too were kind of different. The texture, shape and color varied from from what i have usually consumed. Brilliant still however, i kinda like the discs better than the rotund falafal balls.


The anti pasti section was adequate with peppers, squash, eggplant, tomato but the artichokes were the stars here. brilliant isnt the word. 



Next up another star turn, the Italian section was populated with this stunning potato with some green onion was mind mindbogglingly good but when compared to its neighboring dish 


the mushroom ragout, it became at once pretty ordinary. If i had to pick a single dish that stood out i would say it was this and that is saying something. It was like some mushroom god had granted flavors on a plate.


they have a sushi section of course but its strictly okay, atleast the vegetarian section is. 


the pineapple curry which i chose on noodles was again staggering, just the right mix of sweet and spicy and bursting with flavor, this was second only to the ragout and NOT by much. 


they have a small section doing tacos and nachos and it doesnt quite work, its neither authentic nor is it fully local a la cream center and kind of falls flat.


i avoided the indian appetizers but took a little taste from Mrs Jain's Indian selection and found it to be decent, the dal was good the paneer average.


The pizza looked the part, this was the four cheese, perfect crust around the edges but limp in the middle, served a tad cold and largely tasteless. 


the spaghetti was much delayed in getting to our table and it didnt quite incorporate what we wanted (kinda important when you its made to order) It wasn't bad just not what we asked for. 


the egg benedict was lonely and under salted and kind of disappointing. 


the waffles which we chose with blueberry and maple syrup was on the money. should have picked up a side of some fruits with that but i wasnt quite thinking healthy. 


the cheese selection was adequate with Parmesan, Cheddar, Swiss, Edam and Feta. A stronger cheese (Bleu, Gorgonzola) was missed. Also couldn't find any olives around so i improvised by stealing some from the Italian live counter. 


the dessert section was massive with everything under the sun although at most buffet's i prefer getting ice cream or sorbet. 



so i chose the kulfi rabdi falooda which was great but kept hurting my tooth and it was impossible to eat easily with the massive spoon and tiny cup but somehow i managed. 


they also had a home made gulkand ice cream which wasn't half bad. Mrs Jain tried most of the western desserts and chocolates which im afraid i didn't have a go at. 

Overall, its a pretty massive spread, possibly the biggest in the city with a lot of hits and the odd miss which is rare and usually the other way round. A few of the sections arent even pictured like the chaat and the Indian appetizers, Chinese etc. I think a South Indian section would be a good strong addition, a dosa counter with curd rice and rasam is surely a good idea. Personally, i dont see the need for Chaat at brunch but then , thats just me.

Beyond being good, the Middle Eastern, Thai & Italian are proper, restaurant grade preparations and not making up the numbers which is likely in a spread this wide. In fact, when i went for a second helping of the mezze and the pineapple curry i went from man to pig.

The pasta section is slow and needs to speed up and get the orders right while the pizza sections needs a bit of a revamp. This would be a popular section, so hope they fix it up soonish.

Also i think their selection of beverages is a little ordinary, with tetrapack juices and soft drinks out of big bottles. I think cans and fresh juices is the way to go and would be far more appropriate.

From what i gather, the carnivores would find this to be even more exciting, as they have Shawarma, Australian Leg of Lamb and Alaskan Crab which is surely a novelty and a massive satay section with various things on a stick.  So rejoice.

 

Besides the decent ambiance and superlative food, the single best thing about the brunch was there was not one, and i mean not a SINGE kid running around screaming or being obnoxious.

They were all hanging with clowns and balloons and slides. Not something you would see at another brunch and that alone is worth the price of admission.

I went straight up to the room for a quick nap. 


Food : 9/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 2015 + taxes without booze. 





Monday, August 03, 2015

Food Ordering Apps in India

Food ordering apps are everywhere, some have raised millions of dollars while others are in the process of doing so. By coming into existence they have gone and marginally disrupted (i should stop meeting VC's) the way food is ordered and consumed. You fire up your chosen app, select a restaurant, pick the dishes, make a payment online or COD and 30 to 60 mins later you are up to your elbows in curry.

Except you arent. I've used very single food app over the last few weeks and they have misfired once or more rendering the experience and the ensuing conversation with their customer service to be excruciatingly painful, to say nothing of being a very angry dude because my food didnt show up on time (or not at all, which has happened thrice across apps)

I won't name names because this isn't meant to be a takedown of any particular app or brand. To be fair, i used the big named, well funded ones with the sexy UI and online payment gateways, so go figure.

While i think its great that these services have come into play, bringing a seamless ordering experience and where one can order from restaurants hithertho deemed too far and to bring into the fold joints which one couldnt order from. However, this greatness is only achieved when the app follows through on its promise of you know, actually delivering the food.

You click a button the order goes through and a clock starts ticking, counting down the time to delivery. However many, many minutes after estimated delivery time all you have is a dropping blood sugar and no food.

This is because these apps ultimately lose out to that particular element which has been the root of all evil and misery across millenia, if you havent guessed it already, its us, humans. The human element is what let's the technology down, every single time. Is it any wonder that Skynet wanted to get rid of us all ?

When the system works, its a beautiful thing, seamless, painles, cashless. Utopian even. But it doesnt quite do so often. Maybe the restaurants aren't used to smartphones, maybe they arent used to prepping for delivery, maybe the riders don't know where they are going or they miscalculate traffic, the call centre folks arent well trained enough. In the end it really comes down  to people and that folks, is what they call a fatal flaw.

The result is that the food seldom reaches on time (this is my experience)  and then you complain and spend time dealing with customer servic execs recounting the minutiae of the experience while you are fobbed off with a few hundred rupees and a scripted apology. Then start the game again the next time you fire off the app.





Will things get better ? Will the restaurants, the app makers, the delivery men all work as a well oiled, cohesive unit ?

No, they won't.

Why not ?

I am glad you asked.

1. Because this is India. That sounds like a completely daft thing to say i know. But this is the nation where a man sits outside a vending machine to press buttons, a seemingly complicated task which must be perfomed by a trained proffesional, who might also double as a watchman.

We are the nation of jugaad, ordered efficiency is not something we do very well. Activities that rely on repeatedly efficient, last mile human connectivity rarely ever work. Why ? i can answer that but its beyond the scope of this blog.

2. The apps are well funded for now, so what they are doing with their money is spending it wisely on sponsoring IPL teams, outdoor advertising, radio jingles and of course, indulging in the greatest of all Indian past times, discounts.

Money and time that can be used in creating an enviably efficient organisation is now spent on making the loudest noise and trying to attract customers by losing money on every sale.

So no, it ain't getting better. 

Just my 0.02 cents.



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