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!


KS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KS said...

Ouch! I had my fiancee's birthday ruined in the opposite fashion [bad service, good food] @ Moshe's (the Cuffe one), and they didn't even try & make up for it. Feels like they totally gypped you out of a memorable experience.

But, why did you pay for the dish you never ate!? This is the *Taj* -- nothing but the best service should suffice!

& lastly.. It feels like you've written this in a bit of a huff -- overall, it sounded like 1 dish ruined it -- surpising!

Gaurav said...


hi, i have heard this about Moshe once too often, i used to be their quite regularly and never had a problem, though i am due back for a visit soon enough i reckon.

I did write the post in a huff, however i have decided against editing it, just to keep it as is.

also, i have tried to be very objective about it all and have pointed out the good & the bad.

the ultimate rating is always about the food itself and service, both independent and souk scores well on both fronts.

I have been going to the Taj properties in Bombay most of my life and this is just not the kind of service i expect from the them...

srishti said...

hey, I'm going to be in Bombay next week for only a couple of days, and was hoping to squeeze a meal in at either Indigo, Souk or Thai Pavilion. Can you help me pick please? :) I live in Singapore, and there's a lot of Indigo-esque stuff here going by the pictures in your posts, but I'll still give it a try if you think it's worth it.

And I guess Souk should be crossed off, yes?

Gaurav said...


i think you probably get plenty of Thai, Nouveau & European cuisine in Singapore itself, so i wouldnt expect anything too *different* here.

Souk was good, food was not bad, the service was lame, so dont cross it off (avoid the tagine though)

Indigo is a great standalone restaurant with a European heart, yet they do go via India and its therefore worth a go.

Thai Pavilion was an enriching experience, the food was incredible, the service friendly and welcoming, would recommend them in a heartbeat.

I could recommend either Indigo or TP. however, they are both very different from each other, so the question is, what is it that you wish to experience.

i have heard some good things about Michelin Star chef Vineet Bhatias new Indian restaurant Azoka in Juhu which opened this month but i have not been there yet.

it serves Indian cuisine with a European bent.

Do you want to risk it?

srishti said...

hey Gaurav,

yeah I'm with you on not expecting anything out of the ordinary in terms of the food, but I think eating out in Bombay is great because of the atmosphere... Singapore can get very boring, very quickly.

I'm leaning towards Thai Pavilion right now, because in-hotel dining doesn't exist here - most of the good hotels aren't really known for their restaurants. I kind of miss all the glitz that comes with somewhere like the Taj, and I might make the trip to TP just for the ambience.

That's interesting about Azoka. I haven't heard much about it, but I've always wanted to see if Vineet Bhatia is really worth the hype. I think I'll give it a go as well, Juhu is easy for me to get to.. the south, not so much.

thanks for your help!

Gaurav said...

hmm.. sounds interesting. but if you havent been to Indigo, i reckon you should keep it as a backup, in case you have another chance to dine out.

Thai Pavilion will surely not dissapoint. go for it.

Vineet Bhatia is interesting, hit & miss @ Rasoi anyway... but atlease he dares to be different...

i hope you have a great trip.

enjoy & do let me know how it goes.


srishti said...

to tell the truth, I'm half interested in Indigo because my mother is so disdainful about it. She used to eat there all the time when it first opened apparently, and she says it's not very imaginative. But that was ten years ago! I want to go see for myself now haha, I've heard such divided opinions about it.

I'll update you once I get back!


The knife said...

Hey happy anniversary Gaurav. Hopefully next time it will be a great food, great service and great memories :)

Srishti...between the lot T P is a clear winner

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