Friday, March 28, 2008

Rajdhani Snacklet

Rajdhani Snacklet
Meal : Post Movie Snack 10.30pm
Location : Metro Adlabs

Rajdhani is fast becoming a popular and widespread chain offering jazzed up environments for traditional cuisine. Most of their bigger joints are thali places but they have the express versions for malls and the snacklet version for standalone places where they arent pushing thalis.

This one is in direct competition with Swati both in ambiance and in food on offer. The food is mostly Gujarati, some Maharashtrian and otherwise mostly Bombay Fast food. The joint looks very up market and up scale, minimalist. Just like Swati & Soam their clientèle probably does not care if the decor goes with the cuisine.

The food itself is ok, nothing great as good as Swati if not better. We got the Chaas (good) the Masala Khichadi (ok, too much spice & potato) the Dahi Misal was not too bad.

All in all, ok stuff. They could do better i am sure.

Food 6/10 Service 7/10

Damage 210

Monday, March 24, 2008


Location: Turf Club, Mahalaxmi
Meal : Dinner
Company : Ze Wife, Ze brotherhood

Gallops is a fanstaically located restaurant. The views can be magnificent but getting a table can be difficult as well. Try and score a reservation if you can.

We went in for a bloody mary when we got there and it was absolutely awesome. One of the better ones in the city. However at Gallops stick to the Indian food, the continental has taken a dive for the worse.

We started with the paneer shashlik. It was not bad but when we added the mint chutney it became fantastic.
Next was the fondue. Terrible choice, too much cheese not enough garlic or anything else. Its like eating a hunk of plain old melted cheese. Also, i hate it when people are stingy on the bread.

The main courses were Mexican & Italian. Honestly they were neither. The food was disappointingly, too much spice, not enough taste absolutely no finesse to anything. The Enchiladas and the Lasagna looked the same, heck it even tasted the same. The Mexican rice tasted like Biryani.

They do a good Indian meal but then thats what i thought about the European.

Service was slow but competent.

Food 4/10 Service 7/10

Damage 3000

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


for P.

Venice is one of the most amazing places i have been (and i have been to a few) it just has some quality that sucks you in. Anywhere you look you get a sense of history, the place has not changed much, since the Renaissance they say.

Unlike other historical venues in the world, here they form a part of your entire visit. There is no escaping Venice, its history or its lure. (Below first view of Venice from St.Lucia/Ferrovia)

Venice also had another side. Its politics was hard and it was a city of illusions people wore masks (below) slipped through hidden corridors and gates to hide themselves and their intentions.

Getting there
First - When planning a trip to Venice, avoid doing what we did (Bom to Milan, then bus to Milan Centrale, then train to Venice, St. Lucia, then the boat ride to Lido) overall it took us about 19 hours of constant traveling on almost every imaginable mode to get to the hotel. However i wouldn't dream of doing it any other way. You can also fly in direct to Venice though not from India.

Side Note : Taking trains in Italy
Second, every time you take a train, ensure you get your tickets validated, just insert the ticket in a green/yellow box which is on all platforms. Some tickets dont require validation but some do and having a unvalidated ticket is just as good as not having one. There are plenty of trains going where you want to go, you dont need to reserve tickets in India. Be flexible and do it at the station. Also avoid Centrale, Milan at late or odd hours, the place is dangerous.

What to do
St Marks square (above) is the single biggest attraction, try and get here towards early evening and explore as much as you can.
Then sit down and relax if you feel rich have coffee at Florian (above) they have been around since 1720. Once the sun goes down enjoy St. Marks at dusk/night like Monet once did (below)

Walk as much as you can. You dont know the place, so you wont know where you are going. In a place like Venice its the best way to get some place. We ended up in places where there was literally no one around and no one going by for minutes with views like the one below.

Take in the beauty of the place, imagine what it must have been like even 200 years ago, or 400 when the Doge was in charge.

The Vaporettos (above) connect you to every part of the city (for 6 Eur a head, 1 Eur if you are a local) though i think walking is best. At all junctions and walk ways you will signs like the ones below telling you where you are going in terms of landmarks.

Also check out the Rialto Bridge, Bridge of Sighs (just off St.Marks) Dodges Palace. You can choose to take a Gondola ride, depending on when you go it could cost you between 20Eur to 80 Eur for 30 mins completely avoidable in my opinion.

Once you get these things done you are free to roam, discover and experience.

Murano (glass), Burano (Lace) & Lido are side islands and most frequented trips. I personally think they are completely avoidable, though i did stay in Lido and thought it was wonderful and different, Venice yet not.

Where to stay
Ensure you stay on Venice itself and not on one of the side islands like Lido. this will save you a ton of cash on the vaporetto rides. (if you stay in Venice for three days and live on Lido you will end up paying at least 120 Eur for two) and you will be within easy access of any place you need to go. However vaporettos run with a great frequency so you might not have to wait more than 10-15 mins for a ride.

Eat & drink
Avoid eating or drinking anywhere near or around a major tourist spot (St Marks, Rialto, etc) these meals are guranteed to be more expensive than any place else (2 cups of coffee and a pie cost 35 Eur at Florians) Take a trip, walk around look for a place slightly in the interior and you will find plenty of places offering a three course dinner for 12-18 Eur which is not a bad deal. You can always order off the menu. Remember they will add a cover charge, a bread charge and a service charge (though not all at the same time) Venice is famous for its inky squid dishes. Personally the food is ok, nothing to write home about.

If you got a bar, or a pub you can get small sandwiches, chips and finger food on the bar for free. The Devils Forest(above) is one of the Irish pubs in Venice and they (or anyone else for that matter) dont measure and pour drinks like they do in India. Remember sitting down at a table costs more. Eat at the bar, its cheaper and you get a bunch of stuff free.

Additionally : Check and read up about Venice, find out what activities are on and what exhibits and side tracks are available so you can plan in advance. There is plenty to do so you can pick and choose what you like.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thums Up

For anyone coming to India a must have is the cola (soda) Thums Up that is how it is spelled. It is the great Indian cola drink, I carried a dozen cans to college in upstate New York so people could sample it, not everyone loved it but it had takers.

Presently owned by the Coca Cola company, they tried to put the brand to sleep but found that doing so would give rivals Pepsi a large market share. It is still probably the leading soft drink on the Indian market despite the best efforts of Coke & Pepsico.

Marketed as a macho, tough drink, some say it taste of betel it has some of the qualities of its target audience as well.

Get an ice cold one and then gulp it down quick and you will know what i mean. The extra fizz will glide down your throat and it'll hurt for a millisecond and what a wonderful hurt it is. In the early days the marketing was softer, more youth oriented (Happy Days are here again) from there it evolved into the more aggressive (Taste the Thunder) which is probably more apt.

Considering Indians have a palate that is used to aggressive, loud, heavy flavors, subtle things like Pepsi especially dont work the best, although considering the marketing spends of the two majors, Thums Up survives on popularity alone.

Many colas have come and go (Double Cola, Rola Cola, Campa Cola, Thrill, Crush) even with the presence of Pepsi & Coke, TP does a decent market share of roughly around 30%. Back in the mid 80's they distributed cricket based memorabilia the most popular of which was the flip books (Kapil bowling & Sunny batting)

Best enjoyed with slightly spicier items like Pav Bhaji, Samosas, Schezuan which really bring out the beast in the bottle.

For anyone travelling to India this is a must try.

Eating at Crystal

Rest: Crystal
Location: Opp Choepatt beach Next to Gant
Meal : Lunch
Company : Ze Wife.

Crystal is this small almost invisible place bang opposite Chowpatty beach. Hard to believe since its on one of the most heavily trafficked thoroughfares of this city. The place has been around for what seems like forever. It is not much to look at, in fact the place seems deliberately run down but get their a little into peak hours and you have a 20 min wait guaranteed.

The ambiance isn't much to talk about, there are small tables with make do chairs, the entire place cant seat more than 50 at full capacity. This lack of visibility and ambiance is part of the reason that few South Bombay locals (me included) frequent the place.

Most of the people eating here are professionals passing by, students from nearby colleges and hostels as well as others who aren't from the city. What the place lacks for ambiance it makes up for in character. Its almost a Hindu version of an Irani complete with sourly waiters and the old man at the cash counter (you don't tip the waiter directly, you leave it with him and he passes it off in front of you)

Now, the food. Well food is amazing.When i say amazing I don't mean in the Dum Pukth or Kebabs n Kurries sense. Its not classic, studied cuisine but a great deal more utilitarian, stripped down, simple. It tastes like something your mom would cook or something you would get at a Dhaba in the north.

However, the food is still different, fairly light made with little masala or ghee, so you know the acids wont work overtime.

There is a wide variety of options and we picked the paneer, rajma (must have with rice) rotis, paratha, yoghurt, dal fry , rice, thums up x 2. Topped this off with their specialty dessert, the kheer.

Overall, the food was very very good, the rajma would have worked better with the rice alone so avoid it with the rotis. The Dal fry was ok, worked but the overall menu is something i will be keen on trying out soon enough.

Food : 9/10 Service 8/10

Damage : 199 ($5) believe that?

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Restaurant : Indigo
Location : Colaba,
Company: Ze Wife, Bambi, Pat, Ank, Fos
Meal : Dinner

A return to Indigo, after a very long time (nearly a year) the place has changed slightly, everything seems newer, the chairs are still uncomfortable.

A place like Indigo is a cut above the rest of the fine dine or ultra expensive joints in this city. They have imagination and they aren't bound by any cuisine or palate. You will find risotto along with miso soup and soba noodles. It seems weird to read on the same space but it fits.

Indigo is also fairly expensive (dinner for two without drinks would run you a minimum of 1700 for an appetizer, main, dessert) so its not cheap but its no more expensive than Vetro (terrible) or Souk (weak) however the experience is far more superior.

I wont say the food is always great, as some of the dishes may or may simply be too much on the eclectic side, likely its down to our palate which is used to heavy, loud flavors that linger. They try harder with the food than some of the other comparable joints so i am willing to forgive a miss once in a while.

One of the plus points of going to Indigo is you are guaranteed not to be around any of the Bollywood junta, the tv people and other C-Listers. Thankfully they stick to Olive and whatever else is considered cool in the burbs.

We started with mushroom soup with garlic chips, creamy, different taste. Not too much mushroom, not too much garlic, sort of different with what you collect from in there.

The appetizers were common, potato stuffed with goat cheese, the other was potato with something. Both were ok, the goat cheese was fantastic.

The mains were Gorogonzola Risotto (good, not overpowered by such a strong cheese) Fettucine in wine and cream with green beans and capers (excellent, though very heavy and along the lines of the soup) the penne with lime and cottage cheese (excellent again) the couscous served with a beet bed and stuffed cottage cheese didn't work at all. It was too complicated, the taste was just all over the place and the beet was too strong a taste to have in there. Nature of the beast i suppose. Hit & Miss.

We were too full for the dessert so had to pass, though i was looking forward to the Creme Brulee or the sorbet.

The service was friendly, yet a little slow in clearing the plates and table.

The cocktails are fairly competently made, The Bloody Mary is still the best in the city.

Food : 8/10 Service 8/10
Damage was 10,000 for 6.

4, Mandlik Road,


Friday, March 07, 2008

Oh Calcutta!!!!

Oh Calcutta
Hotel Rosewood, Tardeo
With ze wife.

After a fairly intense session of considering where to Moshe (too much) Indigo Deli (boring) Trattoria (just went) Swati (too crowded) Vong Wong (no reservations) we decided to head out to Oh Calcutta and enter the realm of another indigenous cuisine. The last time i tried this was at Sri Krishna Udipi which ended in tears.

This one however, was a complete rout. Oh Calcutta is touted as a premiere destination for Bengali food in our part of town. I have heard of Bengalis coming in from everywhere for their macchar jhol and hilsa.

Unfortunately we are vegetarians and this is not our fate. So we went in for some veggie options Cheese croquettes and another patty with home made cheese and mung dal. The guys could have told me how similar the two dishes are but they didnt. Turns out one is a traditional bengali dish and the other a western mix. I couldnt tell the two apart. Go figure.

After some agonising over what to go for next, we chose after a recommendation a dish made of channa patties in some brown sauce. This with a side of steamed rice. Completely out of this world taste. I didnt know what i was eating but it didnt taste like food. Hardened patty, tasteless sour sauce.

We ate our pappad (30 bucks for 2) some onions and got the f**k out of there ran into the nearst Barista and tried to drown the evening (all 40 mins of it) in an afogato.

My take is that my palate is cut out for the rich Italian, complex French, heavy duty Mexican, the exquisite North Indian, the fiery Chinese & Thai but when it comes to indigenous Indian i am completely lost at sea.

So even though it was a terrible evening for me, i can understand how Bengalis might go for some of the dishes listed.

The service is friendly but not the best trained lot to help the uninitiated.

Food : 3/10 Servic 5/10

Damage : 2000 without drinks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Spagetti Kitchen

Dinner at the Spagetti Kitchen with the wife and a her friend. We got in about 9 and were seated right away. I like the looks of the place, always have, its pretty large and airy probably the best set up Blue Foods restaurant.

Overall, the visit was average. I was surprised as the food and service on my last visit was absolutely top notch. This time around however, the food was dissapointing. Started off with the mushroom capuccino, served with a musrhoom biscotti, not bad at all but still not great in any way. Slightly above average.

Next up was Bruschetta, which comes with tomato and mushroom toppings equally divided. Not bad again but nothing spectacular.

The main course was the margerita done cracked style (excellent) the spagetti in pomodoro (terrible, undercooked and got there immediately so i know it had been sitting around) the lasagna with spinach was average, again came too early.

In my opinion you cant pre-make these things and then expect them to be served when the time comes. thats crap. I am so glad i didnt order the risotto, it would have been murder. It does not take much to cook up pasta fresh.

Either way, the last thing was dessert chocolate biscotti which though Italian sounding was just vanilla ice cream with some brownie base and choc sauce.

Overall a very dissapointing meal, (should have gone for the vodka penne anyway) hopefully its just an off night for them.

Drinks were : Peach Ice Tea (too sweet ) Lemon (excellent )

Food 6/10 Service 7/10

Damage : 2000
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