Thursday, May 29, 2008

Best Tomato Soup Ever

Hornby's Pavilion as many of you will know is one of my fav late night eating joints. I prefer it over Trattoria as they offer a much greater variety of cuisine as well as a running buffet at anytime you are present there. After the closure of Palms and the abject down ward spiral of Shamiana, there isn't much of a choice at 2am.

Recently at another 1.30 am jaunt I had the pleasure of having the best bowl of soup in recent memory at Hornby's Pavilion at the ITC Grand Central. The plain old tomato soup was taken to some serious heights at this place and its worth trekking over there just for a sip.

I made fun of my wife for choosing tomato soup, face it, its not the most attractive of choices, especially considering the menu on hand. However, i had a spoon full and i was hooked. i asked for one myself, herbs, garlic and maybe some black magic. The taste was good, it bordered on being a complex sauce rather than a simple soup.

Cafe Moshe

Rest : Cafe Moshe
Loc : Crosswords, Kemps Corner
Meal : Sunday evening snack

My routine for Sunday afternoons is a walk up to Crosswords, spend about an hour looking at books and then heading upstairs to the Cafe Moshe coffee shop. Moshe Shek, the man in charge of the Moshe's chain has made a serious contribution to dining out in Bombay.

Not only is the food at the various incarnations of Moshe fairly interesting, it is priced fairly reasonably as well. Not only do you get a good culinary experience, he does not make you pay through the nose for it either.

The menu at the number of cafes's is usually limited, they have a few pasta items, a few sandwiches etc etc.

We started off with the usual Diet coke, although they have a long list of drinks of their own, Limeade, Peachy Cheek are amongst the popular ones.

Baked Penne, is another must have while at Cafe Moshe. Its penne baked with lots of cheese, tomato sauce and veggies. Quite filling and very very tasty. Not what you would expect from a coffee shop but it rocks.

Another signature dish is the crostini with bell peppers, leek in a marinde of balsamic vinegar. This too rocks, the taste never wavers, and this too just has too much going on in terms of taste.

They have a selection of fresh breads you can pick up, soups that change daily and a large selection of desserts, their cheesecake is pretty on the money.

Overall a great place to get a cafe mocha some gourmet sandwiches and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Go there now!!

Food : 9/10
Service: 8/10
Damage 500

Best Dosa !!!!

As my friend Deap Ubhi said recently, eating at malls is usually very iffy. I rarely do but here is one gem. There is a south indian specialty shop in the food court and they do a Garlic Dosa, takes about 8 mins to prepare, there is not much to it but man it goes down well. The garlic, the cheese, the fresh hot dosa down to a crisp.

There are other Dosa guys too, the one by Breach Candy parking lot being top amongst them, however his garlic chutney is what makes his food rise above.

This is one Dosa worth having at a mall.

Atrial Mall
Worli Sea Face

Cafe Basilico

Rest : Cafe Basilico
Location : Bandra, Pali Hill
Meal : Late Lunch

Cafe Basilico is an old fav though we dont get out there as often as we would like. They have two branches one in Colaba and one in Bandra. There is not much to choose from between the two, however the ambiance is different in both places.

You can feel the south bombay and bandra vibes in both places respectively. The menu has been revamped recenlty which is good. i do think the service in Bandra is a notch above the service in Coalaba.

We started off with a Diet Coke & Ice Tea. The tea was pretty good.

The Balinese curry is a menu staple and a complete must have. You can switch the rice with couscous, though either way its a splendid must have dish a tasty, thick dish.

The Risotto, mushrooms with a tomato compote. This dish was quite spectacular, i reckon one of the best risottos , i have had anywhere. A dish i can remember just by thinking about it. Etched in the back of my brain. The tastes was amazing, the risotto itself was ok, however the compote mixed in with it was just wild.

Overall, you really cant go wrong with Cafe Basilico, the crowd in Bandra is on the younger side but otherwise, great food, good service, lovely afternoon out.

Food : 9/10
Service : 8/10
Damage 1300

Cafe Basilico
St. John Road, Opposite Gold's Gym
Pali Naka
Bandra (W), Mumbai 67039999

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Rest : Celini
Meal : Dinner
Location: Grand Hyatt, Kalina

The location for the hotel is terrible but it is fairly quick to get to even though its in Kalina. The Hyatt has one of the best coffee shops i have ever been to, the gourmet sandwiches are just mind boggling.

Chose to dine at Celini which i have heard fairly good things about so far. They had a Sicilian festival going on at that point however i did not choose anything from that menu except for the wine.

Overall the menu is fairly expansive and covers plenty of options for everyone.

Celini is a place laid out by idiots. How chains the Hyatt can make such an elementary mistake with the layout of a restaurant ill never know.

A bunch of chairs and tables in the corner of the lobby adjoining China House. Once seated you can actually feel the gaze from folk walking around in the lobby. Very goldfishy. If you sit with your back to the lobby you pretend you are in a 'proper' restaurant.

There is no real ambiance or feel to write of, the place has very little character of any kind. The service is friendly but pretty slow, there didn't seem to be enough folks on the staff though we were a little early at 7.30

I started with a glass of Sicilian wine Nero Davola, fruity, didn't feel like it was time for it to be consumed. Anyway next was the mushroom and goat cheese salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Excellent stuff this, the cheese plays with the mushrooms and u get a little sweetness with the balsam. Complex stuff.

The entrees were the ravioli stuffed with spinach in a sun dried tomato cream. Terribly done. I got it luke warm, it would have tasted much better otherwise. Either way there was not much to it, fairly simple dish but still disappointing.

The wild mushroom risotto in gorgonzola was absolutely out of this world. No words to say how good this was, one must just go and experience it.

The food has potential, however the ambiance is terrible and the service is patchy.

Food 8/10
Service 6/10
Damage was fairly severe 1 appetizer, 2 entrees, 2 glasses of wine at 3000.

Grand Hyatt Mumbai,
Off Western Express Highway,
Santacruz (E), Mumbai


Rest : Mabruk
Location : Sahara Star, Near Domestic Airport
Meal : Late Dinner

Mabruk is the Lebanese restaurant at the Sahara Star. My last visit to Sahara was very good in terms of cuisine however i considered the ambiance a tad excessive and tasteless. This time around we were seated in the open area of the lagoon which is where Mabruk is laid out.

The view is really something in a Las Vegas sort of way. Anyway, the view is good, the seating is very comfortable and the place busy. We got our menus quickly, there are plenty of mezzes hot and cold with options for veggies and carnivores. Not so much in the entree section however.

We chose the Falafil which was fairly authentic and tasted great, the hummus was ok, the rice with lentils and onions was average, the beans in lime and garlic were good.

Overall, the restaurant is priced ok and the service is allright. The ambiance is great and food isnt too bad. The hostess was nice enough to call us the next day and ensure that our experience was a good one.

Worth visiting.

Food : 7/10
Service 7/10

Damage 2000 for two without drinks

Sahara Star,
Western Express Highway,
Domestic Airport,
Santa Cruz (E), Mumbai

Tel : 39895000


Rest : Dakshin
Loca : ITC, Grand Maratha, near Sahar Airport
Meal : Dinner

Dakshin is one of the signature restaurants at the TC chain and they specialize in South Indian cuisine (Tamil,Kannada,Kerala etc) Since most peoIple in Bombay (and away from the south) consider a South Indian meal to be Dosas, Idlis etc, which is but a small part of the repertoire.

Some of you may know that the last time i went on an ethnic kick i faltered with a meal at Ramanyak & Oh! Calcutta. However i have always had good experiences at ITC and figured it was worth a try.

The ambiance of the place is ok, its fine dining meets the South of India. The servers all dress in dhotis in a Southern Style, the silverware and the music all work out very complimentary to the ambiance.

To start off we were handed a heavy wooden menu where the writing was on silken cloth. Innovative and fittingly done.

The meal itself was well, average. The quality and the effort is very plain to see but then you would expect nothing less from the folks over at ITC. We started of with pancakes (rice,stuffed,banana) which were fairly average.

Also had the Rasam which was excellent, just the right thickness and the taste was fiery but not spicy.

You get served five chutneys, the tomato is the best and goes well with the various pappads

The main course happened to be the pappu which is lentils in onion, garlic and tomato. slightly spicy. We had these with the appams which is actually like a dosa-uttapam slightly thinner than a newspaper sheet (at 300 a pop you could have a dozen and you wouldn't like the way the check looks)

For rice we had a biryaniesque pulao which was also allright. A lot like something i would get at Shiv Sagar if i ordered the Biryani.

Overall the food is ok, the cuisine seems to have been done in most neighborhood udipi restaurants (especially the way the rice was done) so the newness of the cuisine is not there. However the food is ok and there is plenty of variety and choice. For someone looking for authentic South Indian you cant do better than them.

The Service is quick and friendly.

Food 6/10 Service 7/10
Damage 2300 (slightly on the expensive side considering how light the food is)

ITC Grand Maratha
Sheraton & Towers, Sahar Road,
Andheri (E), Mumbai

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Rest : Zenzi
Location : Link Road, Bandra West
Meal : Dinner
Company : Mr.TSI!

I haven't been to Zenzi in years, mostly because its been part of the suburban scene for a while now. My last visit was years ago, before i started writing about food. Honestly, i regret it because my recent experience food wise was absolutely excellent.

Zenzi is located at Waterfeld Road and has a pretty good spot on a busy road. Its become an after work drinks location since there arent that many in Bandra. The place has an outdoor bar with great lighting, while indoors is dim but air conditioned (someone ought to fuse them as my good friend Mr.TSI pointed out)

We started with drinks Gin n Tonic was prefered and i must say there is nothing better than this on a warm summer night.

We moved in for dinner, went for their Wok, which was veggies stir fried served with 4 noodles (yes you read that right) this was absolutely a mind numbingly good dish, no complaints except for portion size. Drool worthy, very very tasty. The Thai Red curry was also excellent, rather than do something heavy and spicy they have gone with something lighter with more veggies and tons of taste.

Overall the food was absolutely excellent, however the service is slow, absent minded and half witted. The place itself has not changed in all this while and you can see the wear and tear on its walls. Time to call the architect i reckon.

The crowd sucks, tv types, model types, loud obnoxious foreigners, if you can look past these considerable faults you will be delighted to find some excellent Asian food. They have Italian on the menu too but i haven't tried. Will go back soon.

Food : 9/10
Service : 4/10
Damage : 2 Entrees, 3 drinks 2000+

183, Waterfield Road,
Bandra (W) Mumbai
Tel : 66430670


Restaurant : Peshawri
Location: ITC Grand Maratha, Near Sahar, International Airport,
Meal : Dinner
Company: Ze Frau

Peshawari is a clone of the Delhi based Bukhara a revered name in food circles. To protect their brand equity Bukhara clones nationwide are known as Peshawari, same menu, same ambiance but lower prices.

Additionally being part of the ITC group means you can expect good service and exquisite food (i have had very few bad meals at ITC restaurants) however my streak sort of came to an end this weekend.

After debating between Peshawari & Celini we chose Peshawari as it was virgin terrirotry. The restaruant is modeled after the famed Bukhara down to the tie around napkin. The seating is expansive but backless stools make a long meal uncomfortable.

The ambiance is nothing to write home about, merely adequate. The menus came pretty quick, a heavy wooden half plank,listing six-seven veg/non-veg. Paneer, Aloo, Pepper, Dal etc. On asking how they are prepared we were told its a kebab restaurant and there would be no gravy nor would there be any rice.

Shocked out of my wits but there was more to come. The prices for each platter are 1050 (for maybe4-5 pieces) We chose the Aloo as it was recommened, the Dal Bukhara along with the garlic naan and rooma roti.

The food was a major dissapointment. A restaruant as famed as this, offered a tasteless, bland unimaginative, aloo preparation, the famed ITC dal bukhara was also not very tasty, a complete let down. Kebabs n Kurries the ITC restaurant at Parel offers a way better experience all around. Our server Graham sensed we were unhappy and insisted on taking the platter to show the chef.

This turned into a minor controversy,after we recieved the check the head server requested us to stand by for Chef Gaurav. The chef poor sod said he had never had complaints for the aloo and wished we had brought it up sooner so he could remedy it. Spent quite a few minutes trying to figure out what exactly went wrong and finally we were told to come again and give them another chance. It was a good 10 minute conversation.

Overall, the restaurant is a speciality joint, so be prepared for a limited menu and not much beyond that. They were nice enough to make the rice for us and i appreciate them breaking a little rule like that to keep the guests happy.

The food is weak, i think Dum Pukth a few feet away is a vastly superior restaurant with a mor varied though generic menu. Neither is a patch on Kebabs n Kurries (KK offers a great experience as it offers all the famed ITC recipes from all its restaurants under one roof)

The damage was also fairly severe without drinks at 2400. However they were nice enough to waive of the kebab platter as we were clearly
dissatisfied to round of at 1400.

I would wager the non-veg is where it lies for them and would urge people to give them a try, if nothing for the tremendous service.

Food : 4/10 Service 10/10
Damage : For 2 without drinks 2400

ITC Grand Maratha,
Sahar Road, Andheri, Mumbai,

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Soups of Bombay

Soup, little bowls of pleasure. Do you like your soups? i like mine. I had the good fortune of having some pretty fantastic soup last night. Considering i dragged myself to go out and made plenty of fun of my mate who ordered it, i consider myself to taste any of it.

It was plain ol tomato soup, you see i am a soup snob (not quite a Nazi) it irritates me no end when my kid brother gets tomato soup, my wife gets tomato soup when its available. find it ludicrous as its almost always badly made, with cream and sweet and i find it such a cop out.

So as usual i proceeded to make fun of my friend who ordered it, having no idea what was in store for me. Luckily i didn't rib him too hard and when i got a taste, one spoon was enough to go snap snap, one for me too. They got me the wrong one, this one tasted nothing like the one my mate was having. So i asked em to sort it out and they did (hope they didn't spit in it)

What can you do with tomato soup anyway? Well quite a lot. The one we had was borderline criminal in how good it tasted. Garlic, herbs slightly thick, it tasted more like a complex dish rather than tomato and water (face it, thats what it breakdowns to) Pretty impressive.

Along with some soft bread, flavored butter, its manna from heaven. I would recommend folk head right over and have some at the Hornbys Pavilion right away. If it does not taste right, stir, if still does not work, ask them to give you the one with the garlic and herbs.

On the subject of soup some other places where i have had some great soup are

French Onion at Starters & More (terrible restaurant though)
Mulligatawny at Gallop,
Tom Yum at Oriental Blossom.

Pictures coming soon.
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