Monday, May 28, 2007

Hornby's Pavilion - The best city coffee shop after hours

Restaurant : Hornbys Pavilion
: 4am binge
Location : ITC Grand Central
Company - Ze Wife, Mr&Mrs Singhania, Mr.Patel

You getting a pang of hunger at midnight? or post midnight? where do you go?
In Bombay only hotels are allowed to have restaurants that stay open for business beyond midnight.

Therefore your choices are limited especially Palms shut down and Shamiana refuses to improve. Trattoria isnt exactly a coffee shop, The Bayview is just boring and Flavours is just plain bad.

Having finished a night out around 1.30. we hoped to get to Ra for the 4am deadline. However when we got in and the cops were already there peeing on the parade. Not wanting to end early and considering the above choices we avoided the drive back downtown and head to the ITC Grand Central.

Mr & Mrs Singhania at The Hornbys Pavilion

Their coffee shop is the Hornbys Pavilion is on the first floor, an average looking coffee shop (average for a 5 star anyway) but it rocks where it counts. The food was superlative (as usual) offering an expansive menu overall,which is only slightly shorter for the midnight version. They also offer a midnight buffet (550+taxes)and an all day light breakfast dining menu which is also lighter on the wallet.

Ze wife looks on at the hungry lunatics

Drinks - Cold Coffee (150), Cappuccino (125) (good)

Eats - We ordered Beans on toast (220) The Hornbys Omlette (210) Pancakes (195). The beans on toast seemed canned to me, the taste was just too uniform and seemed but they were pretty good nonetheless.

Mr.Patel is extremely pleased with his omlette

The pancakes were fantastic, i finally found a place for decent pancakes in this city. The best pancakes money can buy this part of town (better than the Indigo Deli pancakes)

The Hornbys omlette was amazing, soft, delicious with veggies and mushrooms served with a side of toast and a grilled tomato.

Me defending my pancakes at all costs

There are plenty of other usual options like dessert, ice cream and heavier courses western and Indian depending on how hungry you are. The service was good but can be inconsistent. The crowd there was plain weird.

Service : 8/10 Food 9/10

Damage : 1700

Hornby's Pavilion
ITC Grand Central Sheraton & Towers,
Dr. Ambedkar Road, Parel, Mumbai

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Best Thali - Friends Union Joshi Club

What is a Thali?
A thali (platter) is a system of eating very popular in parts of the country. It is a complete meal served in a large steel plate and consists of an 1-2 appetizers, 4 veggies, daal and curry, 2-3 types of bread and two kinds of rice along with dessert and other accompaniments (pickles, onion, salad, buttermilk).

There are many kinds of thalis - gujarati, south indian, north indian, maharashtian etc (gujarati being the most popular) They can be unlimited/bottomless (all dishes except dessert are all you can eat) or set meal.

How it works
The serving process is the same as any other thali restaurant. Each server is dedicated to serving the dish or dishes and comes by at every interval to make sure you can have more of what you like. Within a few minutes everything on the menu is served to you and you begin, when the server returns, you either take what he has or ask him to move along.

Thalis for me
My dad loves a good gujju thali. Its is his single fav thing when we dine out. He passed on his passion for the thali to me. So along the years he has had a few favorites such as Thackers (Birla at Chowpatty) Rajdhani at Kalbadevi, Panchvati near Bombay Hospital.

He recently took me to a nondescript place in Kalbadevi called the
Friends Union Joshi Club. It isnt an easy place to find, being on the first floor of some million year old building. While walking there i was wondering if my dad had finally hired someone to bump me off because if he had there is no way they would have found my carcass.

When you walk into the place the first thing that hits you is how the place probably hasn't changed for the 50 odd years it has been in existence. A very basic eatery this one, simple chair and tables in a U formation. This one is all about the food.

The Dishes
They serve a typical thali 4 vegetables, farsan, rotis and small bhakri, sweet dal, chaas, rice or khichadi, chopped salad, chutney and pickle. Dessert can be gulab jamun, rasgullas, or whatever is seasonal (aam ras nowadays). however dessert isnt included in the price of the thali and is extra. The chaas(buttermilk) was great.

FUJC more so than other thali places work on the principle of home cooked food. i.e. if you go to a gujarati household you will have more or less a similar meal (not just in the name of the dishes but the cooking will be a lot closer)

The verdict
Ultimately the meal was great. It was clean, light, all the dishes were nicely done, with less oil, the buttermilk was great. All this done in a simple surrounding. Sometimes simplicity works better. instead of focusing on the ambiance the FUJC has focused on the food and the people who come here (typically local shop keepers, single men or those who live away from their families

Other Thalis
There are a million thali restaurants in Bombay, some that charge close to 220 a thali (FUJC was around 90) and serve you on luxurious surroundings in chilled rooms with attentive service. However the food turns out to be weaker than anything dished out at FUJC.

Thackers (Chowpatty)
Rajdhani (Kalbadevi, Opera House)
Golden Star (Charni Road)
Chetna (Kala Ghoda)
Status (Nariman Point)
Samrat (Churchgate)
Panchvati (near Bombay Hospital)
Shagun (Bombay Central)

Out of these Samrat is ok, Shagun does a regular set meal thali which is actually pretty good. Chetna is dreadful. The others are just a lot of style over substance.

Friends Union Joshi Club
381-A Narottamwadi, Kalbadevi Road, Mumbai

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tzatziki - A garlic, cucumber dip from the Mediterranean

While i was in Athens i got to try and a wonderful little dish called Tzatziki. The last time i had this was at a Turkish restaurant in New York with cracked bread (the turks call it Cacike)

Anyway, this is a sublime dish, enough to rock your socks and tingle your taste buds. It can be head for breakfast and as an appetizer for lunch or dinner and if you are particularly fond of it (like i am) as a whole meal.

This restaurant round the corner from our hotel in Athens served it with Bread soaked in olive oil and herbs. By the time we would get done with it there was really no more hunger left (well throw in a bottle of house wine at 3Eur , what else is going to happen)

One of my best friends mum makes a dip very similar to this, except she leaves the cucumber out and lets the yoghurt in thicker.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bars, Clubs & Lounges - S.Bombay

A low down on the places i like and frequent.

Is this quaint but lively pub that plays some loud music and serves a mean pint. The crowd is a mix of older distinguished folk, yuppies and expats. They serve chips and salsa which is the best free munchy in the history of free munchies. They also do a really really good paneer tikka. Drinks to get are a mean Mojito a decent bloody mary. Any night out involves a stop over at Geoffrey's either at the beginning or at the end, after all it is our local.

Salt Water Grill
Although a halfway decent yet inconsistent restaurant, SWG makes a great place to just sit down and sip some Shiraz.
It has one of the best views money cant buy. Equal parts open sea, concrete jungle and city lights. The ambiance towards sun set is terrific and has all the makings of a magical evening.

This rooftop bar at the Intercontinental is without a doubt the best located bar in the city bar none. The view is worth a million bucks as is ably supported by the minimalist decor. There is ample seating with comfortable couches for groups and small tables for two-somes. The drinks are on the expensive side, the snacks are weak, the dessert is on the money however. A must visit.

One of the best restaurants in the city is also one of the better bars. The entire set up is more or less part of the 'scene' that aside, its a great place to plonk down and catch up with friends. The drinks are actually 'not' on the disgustingly expensive side, even though the restaurant is one of the m
ore expensive ones in the city.

Opium Den
Opium Den, is located in the Oberoi Hilton and is actually not one of the more popular bars around. You may actually end up here on a Sat night and find the place less than half full. This isnt all bad (especially when you are trying to set up a group of 20 on a busy night) It is an extremely comfortable place and can be a boon when you want to be out but not around noise.

Wink is the minimalist bar that replaced the Library Bar at the Taj President. Its a very well designed dimly lit place, with comfy couches and cosy tables. They play some very cool Buddha bar music and serve sushi and some satay. Overall its a very chilled out place though unnecessarily loud at times.

Henry Tham
Henry Tham is another very popular hangout located in Colaba opp the Indigo Deli. It is also a restaurant but more popular as an evening out than just plain eating. The crowd is usually younger and it gets packed very quickly.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Salt Water Grill

Restaurant : Salt Water Grill
Location : Near Chowpatty Beach
Meal : Dinner
Company :Ze Fraulein

Experience : Last time i was at the SWG it seemed like the place to be. I dont know if its the monsoon coming or what but the place seemed a little on the rundown side. Lot of uncles & aunties, the group seating with curtains was shut. The whole place in general seemed a little rundown.

Drinks : Again, they had licensing issues so werent serving anything, so we got a pitcher of some pretty awesome ice tea (450)

Meal : We started with an appetizer of the camembert crostini (250) . Terrible, i didnt see the point at all. It seemed like they took some toasted bread, added some stuff and topped it off with a slice of camembert. Crap.
They had terrible salads last time i was there so we skipped entirely over and went to the tomato consome soup (210) which was very average. No great taste at all actually, quite a pointless concoction.

The main courses again, very limited and i dont get the obsession with zucchini. anyway we got the tomato and mascarpone risotto (350) penne georgetta (zucchini, garlic with a zucchini inspired sauce)
The risotto was sublime. Fantastic taste, just a smashing dish all around. The pasta was undercooked and had to be sent back. When it came back it was pretty ok, not bad at all but def not in league with the risotto.

Overall, the food was underwhelming. One dish out of 4 being good isnt a good sign (was the same last time too) I think they have begun to believe that they are selling the ambience as well rather than the food.

Rating : Food 4/10, Service 9/10

The service staff, was attentive and friendly and they were there everytime that you needed something. pity the cooking wasn't up to par.

Damage : 2000 (50$)

Salt Water Grill
2O Water Complex, Next to Mafatlal Swimming Pool
Chowpatty, Mumbai 23685485, 9820289619

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The greatest Tiramisu in the whole wide world !!!

Mrs.Jain at Galleria De Viottorio Emannuelle

After a day spent walking around the Piazza Del Duomo we walked into the Galleria De Vittorio Emmanuel, this is one magnificent building. Glass roof, so high that you never realize you are inside. Surrounded by Prada, Louis Vuitton its quite a heady place for shoppers (not as heady as Via Montenapoleone however)

Usually we avoid eating in any place where tourists abound. but we were enjoying the building so much that we decided to sit down for a meal there itself. From that meal i recall a fantastic gastronomic experience. After a mediocre meal and even more mediocre wine we decided to see if we could hit the hat trick and get some mediocre dessert. So we got the tiramisu to share.
Of course neither was too excited about it but then we took a bite. Then a pause. Allowing the taste to spread and envelop it self all over the inside of our mouths and then hit the short circuits to all parts of the brain which then sent it all the way down to my toes.

Fantastic, like no other Tiramisu i have had, before or since. until now the mrs, keeps cribbing that she wants Tiramisu like the one from the galleria.

It turned out to be so good, that we had to get our own twice (at 4Euro a pop it cost as 16Euro in tiramisu alone)

Oriental Blossom - Birthday Celebration

Happy Birthday
Rest: Oriental Blossom
Location: Marine Plaza
Meal: Dinner
Company : Mr&Mrs Jain, Mr&Mrs Bathija, Mr&Mrs Chabbria, Mr Patel, Miss Anie, Mr.Jain

The Decision : We were looking to go someplace with a group of 9 to celebrate my wifes birthday. The alternatives were China Garden ( no table at short notice) Golden Dragon (read dine here and become a Banana Republic) Henry Tham (untested weapon)

Since our fav Oriental place shut down (china white) and we absolutely detest Royal China Oriental Blossom was the only natural choice.

The Experience : It turned out to be a good move. We got a table for 9 and the meal was the best so far at Oriental Blossom. Usually the restaurant can be patchy or sho
rt of great but it has never been bad or below par.

The Meal -

Beverages: We ordered a bunch of beers Kingfisher(terrible) Heineken, Diet Pepsi.

Soups : Our soups were Wanton Soup (excellent) Tom Yum (not bad)
absolutely first rate. Although the tom yum has been wildly inconsistent but it was ok this time.

Appetizers : Potato in dry red chilli (good) Grilled Wanton (not bad) Some mushroom thing (not bad again)
The Boys

Main Course : We got Hakka Noodles ( excellent, very well done) we got two different veggies one was the regular veggies sans broccoli in an Oyster Sauce and the other was Stuffed Mushrooms in their hot sauce. The veggies in the oyster sauce were not too bad but the Mushrooms were just fantastic. Too good, this one dish is the highlight of their meal service. Its hot (temp) and tasty.

Dessert : We cut a cake.

Overall : The meal was pretty good. The service was slow and scatter brained at times which was disappointing. Mrs Bathija had been to Royal China recently and China Garden and said this was by far a much better meal than any of the others. Overall its a def place to visit and can easily become your regular Chinese joint. If only they were slightly more consistent with food and service they could jump a notch and enter the real of the 9's on this blog.

Rating : Food 8/10, Service 7/10

Damage : 6500 ($175) (includes additional alcohol)

Oriental Blossom
Hotel Marine Plaza
29, Marine Drive, Mumbai 22851212
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