Monday, February 21, 2011

Bespoke Cafe

Rest : Bespoke Cafe
Meal : Late Afternoon Snack
Loc : The Collective, Palladium, High Street, Phoenix Mills.

So, my kid brother is finally getting married this week in Calcutta, we were in Palladium sorting out his wedding kit etc and needed to snack.

Not wanting to walk around too much we decided to head into Bespoke Cafe since we were already at the Collective.

I have been to Bespoke Cafe a few times before and have done a few meetings here. The place really does lend itself nicely to a work environment. Although fairly small, it reminds me of Chambers somewhat (the few times i have been there)

It has this old world feel to it, with the high back leather chairs, the sofas and the wood panelling. Very different from most places you would go to.

The menu is fairly limited. They have some omelettes, salads and pastas as well as some dips. Not a large menu at all but enough to serve out a decent lunch for a few people.

The space is good enough for a you to sit and be comfortable as well as get some work done if needs be.

I got the spinach and pesto dip, which was way oversalted. difficult to eat. Healthy it maybe but tasted horrid.

The cappuccino was not bad at all.

The tomato and goat cheese sandwich became the tomato and feta as they were out of goat cheese. Not bad at all. A decent effort.

I have had the salads here before and they weren't bad. All in all its a nice space, with a great ambiance and average food. Check it out if you stop by when tired of shopping or want a quiet corner to get some work done.

Food : 6/10
Service : 6/10
Damage : 600.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Le Pain Quotodien

Rest : Le Pain Quotidien
Meal : Sunday Lunch
Loc : Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba

LPQ is the Belgian cafe chain spread across Europe & North America which has opened its doors in Bombay a few months ago. My schedule being what it was, i wasn't able to check the place out when it had just opened. Those were some dark days, made darker still by a visit to California Pizza Kitchen..

The ambiance at LPQ is fantastic, the decor is modern and well lit. Indian restaurants have really found the courage to try things out and offer more than the old fine dine kitted out feel. The menu however is relatively limited. They have some salads, breakfast dishes and a set of baked dishes.
The menu really needs beefing up, they can continue their bakery/cafe focus but some more complexity would go a long way in competing with the joints across the street.

Home made lemonade, not bad.

self explanatory

Since they are a bakery, they are quite generous with the bread. delicious bread this, would be nice to see some variation in the kind they offer but good stuff nonetheless.

The cheese platter, would not have chosen it this early into the meal but was voted down. Excellent. I miss having my cheese platters, we had brie, parmesan, danish bleu amongst others as well as some strange unsalted pesto. Could have also done with more olives. Delicious though.

The waffles arrived without any maple syrup, in fact the waiter looked at us like we had asked for blood to be poured onto the waffles. Granted chocolate syrup was not bad i would have prefered having maple syrup.

Blame my companions for this one, ordering aloo paratha at a belgian joint.. wtf indeed. Horrible as expected. Why not just try a thing or two if you had to go local and fuse ideas together ? the couscous upma across the street at Indigo deli is a great example which works very well.

The caprese was yum, fresh mozzarella really goes down well. the drizzle of olive oil was nice but a tad inadequate in terms of taste. Missing something.. freshness can only take you so far.

For the tartines i have no idea how they came up with this but this was some paneer and veggies on soft bread. First off, toasting it would have been a good idea so the bread does not get soggy and is a little stable.

Secondly, this looks fairly unappetizing to me, id bite into a lamb before id be excited about also tasted as bad as it looked. Complete disaster.

the espresso creme brulee was about average.

Overall, LPQ seems to strike all the right notes in regard to look, location and ambiance. Even conceptually they seem to be on the right note.

However what it comes down to the innards the menu falters, not just in composition but also in execution.

While they have a selection of safe options (cheese platter, caprese) and the salads are probably best best but everything else seems to falter.

The main culprit is that there is little or no imagination in creating the dishes. Quite like the Transformers sequel. They have all the baubles but could have spent some more money on a script.

The terrines need to be rethought, possibly re-imagined. LPQ is in a location which has a dozen or dining options within 5-10 mins of its location, being below average is not a good strategy.

Food : 5/10
Service : 5/10
Damage : 2600 for 3

Sunday, February 06, 2011


Rest : Ziya
Loc : Oberoi, Nariman Point
Meal : Dinner

So it was that time of the year and it rolls around again, the wedding anniversary. While i don't mind it, i have no idea why the wife choose to celebrate her biggest mistake :)

Anyway, so we decided on Ziya, this time, it was a toss up between Zodiac Grill and Ziya, since the wife had never been to a Vineet Bhatia restaurant ( i have been to Zia once before but my first experience with Mr.Bhatia was Zaika eons ago, before the Michelin star)

The choice was not that hard, to go with the man who has envisioned a new way to approach our indigenous flavours and in the bargain found a michelin star..

So we landed up in Ziya, it is a dimly lit space and a not ethnically kitted. The table in the middle of the restaurant was nice but the one by the window was nicer. Thankfully the folks didn't show up and we were able to shift.

The golden plate was lovely, pity we did not eat in it. Also sitting next to it is my anniversary gift from the in laws.. Monsieur Mont Chopin Blanc..

the pinot was average to start with but it the papad and tomato chutney went really well with it.

the table is set up to be fine dine and not ethnic Indian which works very well. however there are little touches here and there like music and some designs on the walls that give it an Indian touch.

While there is a full fledged menu to choose from ranging from appetizers to dessert, they also have the choice of going for the 7 course gourmand menu (2750 for veg and 3200 for non veg) which can be paired with wines (additional 2900)

Both of us chose the tasting menu and were started of with a bunch of pappads and chutneys. I recommend mixing all the chutneys (tomato garlic etc).. enjoy the blend.

We started off with aam panna and a pav bhaji fritter. Now, i am not a big fan of the aam panna and i didn't like this one at all. It was thicker, syrupy although the wife loved it and she appreciates a good aam panna.

The pav bhaji fritter was good on its own but not very pav bhaji like.

A malai tikki with a white tomato soup and bloody mary jelly. The tikki by itself was a little bland but when coupled with the chutney, a sip of the soup and a dash of the jelly and you have something interesting to work with. Even on its own the soup was great as was the jelly. However what is working here is the wow factor more than anything.

A wild mushroom khichadi with truffle oil topped with makhni ice cream. The dish is as good as it sounds weird. The khichadi itself is like a rich mushroom risotto but it has a very khichadi like finish, which does not kick in until you finish tasting.

The makhni ice cream is really something. Devious little thing, it tasted great, the trick was to let it melt into the khichadi rather than eating it frozen.

Cashew roll on beet sauce with asparagus on a saffron upma. I am not a big fan of beet so this while not bad was a bit of a hard sell. The roll itself was again, not going anywhere. The asparagus was bland but the upma was good.

The palate cleanser was a champagne sorbet, with a dash of Bollinger, fantastic.. how could one go wrong?

Paneer with sambar and chutney on the side and veggies below. I have never thought of Paneer as an ingredient in a south indian inspired dish, so this was very different. The sambar was excellent, i wouldn't mind having this with breakfast. The whole dish works okay, the paneer just looks like a tikka but tasted nothing like it. I think it was infused with some sweetness, just a hint.

The sesame roll on a bed of achari sauce, perhaps the weakest dish of the lot. No real direction, the achari sauce tasted more like a sambar.

A pre dessert dessert, this one was puran poli ice cream

The dessert was kheer ice cream with basundi poured into it and grilled pineapple on the side. The ice cream was weak on its own but it did okay with the basundi. Interesting idea, cold kheer ice cream, warm basundi but there was no dominant taste, both were weak and therefore didnt go anywhere. The grilled pineapple added a strong touch.

A happy anniversary cake, from the team

Overall, Ziya is a great idea, greater still that they brought this to India, i would have considered it a hard sell to give us pre-plated dishes which challenge our experience with our own cuisine. However between 8.30-11.30 we saw most tables loaded, which is a good sign.

The dishes are a mix of flavours of the north and south but have been created with a western palate in mind. A great deal of imagination has gone into the dishes but all of them don't necessarily work.

However, they get full marks for trying, i think when they revamp the menu it will pan out nicely, thinking along the lines of makhani and mushroom khichadi is what will make this place rock.

The mind behind the menu is a great talent and i think this is the route which will allow people to see Indian cuisine in new light. To do what they do is indeed challenging and will take Indian cuisine to new heights. We aren't there yet though.

Service is great, as you would expect from the Oberoi, friendly, mostly prompt and knowledgeable. The wait for the second last course was 20 min which was infuriating.

Food : 6/10
Service : 9/10
Damage : 6000 for two with a glass of wine.

The place is expensive and because of the reputation, the expectation is great. So one does expect more which is why the relatively low rating.

However, if the menu changes, id be the first one in line and i would still recommend this to people so they can experience this for themselves as well as go for the non-veg menu which looks delectable.
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