Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Botticino - Avoid !

Rest :Botticino
Loc :Trident,BKC
Meal : Dinner

Botticino is supposed to be a take off the old Vetro from the Trident at Nariman Point. While i was never overtly impressed with Vetro, it was sort of allright.

Botticino however is a pale imitation (of a weak restaurantt to begin with) at best. The place is laid out well, in what is a gloriously designed hotel but the ambiance is more business without any cool factor or romance(for those that need that sort of thing)

The bread service was commendable, good stuff, variety of options, yet it was all about to go downhill from there.

The Minestrone was horribly bland. No taste, as a soup itself Minestrone is different from region to region and season to season. So when the chef came out and told me that this is possibly why i didnt like it, all i wanted to say was that no matter the ingredient, no matter the region, no matter the season, there is no excuse for something so tasteless !

The anti pasti was actually the only halfway decent dish. peppers, artichokes, olives, parmesan and mushroom. Not bad at all, pickled to perfection.

Both the pastas were highly recommended by our server, the pasta Paccheri was tomato, cheese mostly on a heavy pasta, the risotto was walnuts and cheese.

Horrid. Shocking how weak the food was, the paccheri was generic, the risotto could have been made with paper.

The chef came out and we had a long chat, i hate talking to chefs, i wouldnt like it if someone told me how to do my job and i get the feeling that they feel the same way. Which is why i dread being asked what i think of the food.

Overall, the place is business like but comfortable and fairly well laid out. The service is friendly, prompt but they seem to freaking clueless as to how bad their food is. Chef Mayank who was cooking is apparently headed to Vetro when it reopens.

Food : 3/10
Service : 5/10
Damage : 2250

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Punjab Grill

Rest : Jiggs Kalra's Punjab Grill
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Palladium, Phoenix Mills

Jiggs Kalra, is a reputed name in North Indian cooking, Punjab Grill is the Mumbai outlet of their popular Delhi based chain. While i am certainly not a fan of mall dining, we go where the plate is set i reckon.

They started us off with the ol gimmick of the pill sized napkin, pouring water on it and poof out comes the towel. Unfortunately for them Thai Pavilion already beat them to it.

The place was 3/4 full, which is pretty good for lunchtime on a weekday, considering its not the cheapest place in the world. The menu is North Indian, similar to but not as expansive as say Moti Mahal. which means they offer kebabs, entrees and rice preparations.

Punjab Grill, is on the classy, fine dine side in terms of ambiance and environment, it sits right next to the almost as new Asia 7 as well as Rajdhani. The third floor of Palladium is turning out to be quite a dining mecca.

The table service was just the same as most other restaurant of their ilk, onions

and papad, i wish someone would try something newer or more interesting on this front.

they offer a set of limited beverages, the mattha (chass/buttermilk) which was served spicier than usual. I always find it works best when its freezing cold and served with no masalas or spices. but its a personal choice entirely.

The aam ka panna (made from raw mangoes, popular summer drink) however it was not good at all, too strong a taste of fennel, ruined it for us. they were nice enough to switch it for the

Shikanji (lemonade with spices) again, not bad but not too great either.

We decided to get the kebab platter, which had 2 portions of four of their kebabs. Each one different from the other which kept things interesting. They had the Makkai Kebab (Corn) Dahi Kebab (Yoghurt) Stuffed Potato, Paneer Tikka (Cottage Cheese)

The corn kebab, was very kachori like and the weakest of the four. The potato crusted with sesame seeds and stuffed with a mix of cashews, raisins was a little unweildly to eat but not too bad. The Paneer tikka, was brilliant, large piece done just right. The Dahi Kebab again, was brlliant, dahi and dry fruit mixture, very good but very heavy as well.

Having gone through such an appetizer we decided to play it safe and went for the Dal Makhani & the Garlic Naan. The Naan was great, buttery with lots of garlic, one Naan was enough for two people as it was an ample portion.

The Dal Makhani is usually the litmus test for any North Indian restaurant. While i always find it disconcerting to eat Dal Makhani (due to my strong affinity for its more complex and tasteful cousin the Dal Bukhara) this one was not too bad. Heavy, creamy yet a strong taste. No Complaints.
They topped it off with a paan shot, which tasted remarkably great. Just like a liquid paan, very innovative.

Overall, the place has an interesting environment and seems like a good place to bring out of towners, foreign visitors. Its not too bad to come down to with mates as well. However it is not near the great or spectacular mark by a long shot.

The service is fairly competent, our Server Akshay was friendly and made plenty of suggestions but was in no way overbearing.

Its not value for money by a long shot, the pricing is fairly on the high end but then so is the experience. If they can just elevate the food another notch above, they will have a fairly competetive mix. Moti Mahal is a similar restaurant and they had a strong opening but somehow petered out in the long run. Hopefully PG will gro from strenght to strength

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10

Damage :

Punjab Grill

3rd Floor, Palladium Mall,
Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai
43473980, 9311520737

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Earth Plate

Rest : The Earth Plate
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Hotel Sahara Star, right outside the domestic airport. Santa Cruz

A quick working lunch on our way back from a suburban meeting. We hopped into Sahara Star, to nosh at Mabruk but unfortunately they were not open for lunch. Namak, which i like but cant handle in the day was shunned for their coffee shop.

The coffee shop covers plenty of ground and is laid out in the inner ring, the outer of course faces their lagoon with specialty restaurants around it. The menu offers everything from Italian, Mediterranean, Indian to Oriental.

We got the mushroom pizza with mozzarella, it was a bit sour, but was a good pie.

The mezze platter is slowly turning into my fav thing in the world. We got the muhamrah, hummus, tabouleh and dolmades. Everything was good, not spectacular but pretty good.

Overall, the place has very little character, the seating is a little uncomfortable but the food is good. I havent yet had a bad meal at the Sahara Star. Not a bad place to have a working lunch. They also offer a lunch buffet at 1200 + taxes. However i am not too impressed with the pricing. I think 5 star hotels in metros are completely off their rocker.

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 1500

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Souk - We Was Robbed!

Rest : Souk
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai

So it was our third wedding anniversary on the 5th, as excited as we were about it, we had no chance to even talk or mingle the enitre day as we were both extremely caught up. As the day wound up, we had to take a call on dinner, Souk @ the Taj, serving mediterranean which we both enjoy immensely or a set meal dinner at San Qi @ Four Seasons.

An hour before dinner we chose Souk, as San Qi just lot its appeal at the last minute (a great deal of it had to do with the hodgepodge options combining Japanese, Cantonese & Indian) or maybe we both just like mediterranean cuisine that much.

So onto the Taj we went, i have spent many hours in the lobby here, worn out after a night at Insomnia, so its a comfortable feeling to glide across the lobby as the housewives, busienssmen and travelers go on about their lives. Straight to the rooftop and you are at Souk, uncomfortable seating, weirdo lighting and obsucred views of the Gateway of India, the Taj could have done way way better.

The menu though is fairly expansive, covering a lot of ground and geographical expanse.

Started off with an amuse bouche of dill, garlic infused yoghurt, quite refreshing.

their table service consists of a hot sauce, tahini and a selection of crudites. very very yummy, unfortunately not replenished as much as we would have liked. Also, be sure to get some of their olives, stuffed with almonds. very cool.

We started with the mezze platter, which consists of two hot and two cold mezzes. While there were quite a few we wanted to try we decided not to experiment too much. We got the hummus which was good, the muhamrah which was excellent, the falafal was pointless, the spinach and garlic youghurt was again, pretty good.

I had an Italian white, which was fairly dry and average.

The bubbly was served to us complimentary (more on that later) Indian, semi dry(leaning towards the dry)

For the main courses we decided to pick one of our own, as well as choose one from a recommendation. The potato, spinach and cheese pancake was picked on their recommendation, it was pretty good, served with a heavy tomato sauce, it turned out to be a superlative dish.

aah, the tagine, what do i say about it. It was sweet with a tomato taste, thats pretty much it. Possibly the worst tagine i have ever had and i have had a lot, in quite a few countries between Morocco & Bombay.

Especially distressing as a few places in Bombay itself do great ones, it was upsetting to get this monstrosity.

Now, the comedy does not end here. We were asked about the food and we mentioned that the tagine was not good. The offending dish was taken back to the chef, ten minutes later we were told that the chef had found it allright and then, our f*******g dish never came back, if it was good give it back, if it was bad fix it...

This is part of the reason why i NEVER send dishes back, because chef may not like it and then i have to be the person to explain things and not everyone likes criticism, even if it may help.

Most chefs i have spoken to have been more than gracious to hear me out, I have had long chats about dishes with the chef at Peshwari who was flabbergasted i did not like their dal bukhara, to the point where he insisted we come back asap so they can rectify things.

Chef Bansi, downstairs at Starboard, chatted with me for about thirty minutes over our shared travles in Mexico, where we sat and discussed why Tex-Mex does not work and how the cuisine differs across Mexico.

So some people are open to it, some are not. To each his own...

For dessert we chose the rose petal ice cream which was highly recommended, rightfully so. it was delectable.

Overall, the food was good, not great but good but the overall experience felt considerably mediocre.
The ambiance is sort of allright, no real complaints, the view needs to be used better but it is what it is. The place itself was also fairly busy, so hooray for them i guess.

The good thing is that the mezzes were brilliant, the help when they could be found were sympathetic. When they heard it was our anniversary, they brought out a cake which was too kind of them, they also poured us two glasses of bubbly, possibly to pacify us. Which is what i expect from the Taj.

What i dont expect from the Taj is that, since i had decided on a Riesling for the evening but no one could tell me what kind it was (Kabinet, Auschlese etc) so skipped it and chose an average white from Italy.

The Tagine that i ordered, it was taken to show the chef that it was well, not very good. Now, the chef said it was fine but it never came back. It was also not taken off the check, so i didnt eat it, the chef didnt fix it but i paid for it anyway.

They still give you two freaking small pieces of pita with a mezze platter, you can order more at 125 bucks a pop. RIDICULOUS.

Even a fast food chain offers you two large pitas, so wtf is up with this. i dont buy the argument that people order a platter of hummus and then keep binging on free pita. Jesus H Christ. At 800 bucks a serving of hummus, i think i deserve a little more pita...

Olio, at Novotel had several dipping sauces and plenty of breads on service but i spent 3000 on dinner there anyway. What kinda thought process is this?

Dont make me hunt you down and ask you for some carrots and olives, just pay a little attention folks. I know you guys meant well, were friendly but that is no good to us if we arent being taken care off, dont upset us and you wont have to pacify us.

i had three apologies but i am still upset !

This is possibly the weakest restaurant from the Taj in terms of service and offering, sad because the food is good but it is horrible to find yourself spending 5000 to make an evening memorable and then ending up with nothing to show for it.

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 5000 for 2 with one drink.

PS. This is our 3rd anniversary together, first we spent at Vetro at Oberoi which was mediocre food and no wine tasting, second was at Pure@ Taj Lands End, again mediocre food, fantastic service. So here, we get decent food and crappy service.. i think well stop going out for our anniversary from next year on!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Rest : Dome
Meal : Post movie cocktail
Loc : Intercontinental, Marine Drive

On our way home from a mid week evening showing at Inox, we thought of grabbing a quick drink at Dome, since we hadnt been there in a while, it was a return back to an old hunting ground. The place seemed smaller than i remembered but every table was taken, except the one we plonked down on.

Yours truly in the picture, only reason i put it up is to give you a hint of the fabulous view the Dome commands. Thought it has been surpassed by Aer in every aspect, design, space, layout ambiance it still commands a tremendous view. The space itself needs a reimagining though, people need to feel closer to the view which does not happen.

Diet coke :)

The bloody mary had an intense vodka flavour, not the best one i have had nor was it the worst. Passable concoction.

The menu at Dome is fairly expansive, they have their own grill section, as well as kebab selections from Kebab Corner (recommend) and an extensive Sushi section which i dived right into. I picked the mushroom maki rolls, which were not bad. Not great either and the dim DIM lighting made it difficult to sort out the wasabi.. above average.

Overall, the Dome has definetely lost some of its lustre and some of its thunder has since been stolen by Aer, yet the place has a charm of its own as well as a tremendous view. Its unfortunate that you cant really get close to it due to the way the space is set up.

Service is quick but aloof but then you should really go there only for the view!

Food : 710
Service : 7/10
Damage : 1600 (for one appetizer, one cocktail and a coke)

Intercontinental Marine Drive,
135 Netaji Subhash Road, Marine Drive, Mumbai
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