Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Eating out over the last week

Have had a pretty good run over the last few days and hopefully it will run through the coming weekend which also happens to be my birthday ! Unfortunately most of these dine outs were impromptu and i wasnt able to click pictures, so am reusing some of the old ones from other posts, cept for the last one.

Cafe Basilico in Bandra is an old war horse and came through on what was a particularly bad day. Planned to the hilt as a working Saturday things unraveled fairly quickly and nothing got done. The only solace being getting a chance to bite into possibly the best risotto anywhere in the city (previous) a must have dish, the mushroom risotto with a supremely tasty tomato compote of sorts. Also had an open faced omelet which was okay and a horrible couscous upma, expecting it to be like the one at Indigo Deli it was a disaster (900 for 2)

China Garden last night for an awesome dinner with a large gathering including my rakhi sister Tazhib and her husband Farokh who are down from the UK and miss Indian Chinese. For someone who is avoiding Chinese i have certainly OD'ed on it.

This time i was happy to go because Farokh is an awesome cook and treated us BIG time when were in London this past summer. Food was brilliant, fantastic onion pancakes continue to astound, the veggies in schezuan sauce were just awesome, i don't know what they did different, i got some asparagus which tasted out of this world. Farokh & Tahzib also got a fried squid starter and shrimp for their main course. Both of which they said were great. (5500 for 7 with 2 beers) Previous visit here

I was hoping to carry out for drinks post dinner but my kid brother had a particularly long day at work, which is idea time for drinking but we had to disband, not feeling like going home yet, the wife and i headed out to Indigo Deli for some dessert. The Belgian Chocolate ice - cream is ddddelicious, again a superlative little thing. Though i have had it before, i couldn't recall if it had that tang of liqueur to it. Again, highly recommend this, share it because its really really rich. (340 incl taxes)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Imperial China

Rest : Imperial China
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Hilton, near Sahar Interntional Airport

Had to meet a friend who was staying at the Hilton and we decided to grab dinner at the hotel itself. The place has a rather awkward entrance which is way small followed by a barely adequate lobby. Rather underwhelming when compared to the Hilton over in Nariman Point. Anyway, being completely unfamiliar with the hotel we asked for help regarding picking a restaurant.

Flames, their open air restaurant wouldn't open till October and their Mediterranean/Indian restaurant Brasserie was under sold to us (though i would recommend their menu which looks fairly interesting)

So it was Imperial China we walked into for dinner, the place is softer than the lobby (the lobby looks like it was designed by Tony Montana) the tables are spaced out and the chairs are comfy. unfortunately there were only about six people in the restaurant including us which did not inspire much confidence.

Aptly named, the menu contains some Mongolian dishes as well as a heavy Thai section although i am not sure if Imperial China ever held sway as far as Siam. Dishes are mostly standard Asian fare.

Were served packaged almonds with our beers, hate packaged almonds, be better to serve something cheaper if it can be had 'fresher'

The Kimchi was devoured by me all together, it was actually pretty good, sweet, spicy and tangy. Unfortunately it wasn't refilled.

For the appetizers we decided to go in for a Chinese & Thai each, so it was satay with peanut sauce and a dumpling with hot sauce. Both were decent but nothing to write home about.

The mains were regular noodles which were okay , the chilli garlic fried rice was pretty good as were the veggies in schezuan sauce with cashews.

Overall the meal was a lot better than i anticipated, not bad at all, unfortunately as i write this now, even a relatively spice free and light Chinese meal such as this is giving stomach trouble. Either i am getting too old or Chinese is just way too difficult to digest overall, end up with some dreadful mornings after.

Imperial China is not bad but the street it is on is hyper competitive. A short 3 min walks takes you to the ITC and some of the best restaurants in the city, the Hyatt is right next door and another 5 mins can take you to the Leela.

Service was quick and friendly but then were were the only ones there.

Food : 7/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : For 3 with a 2 beers 3500.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Geoffreys - Gone Downhill?

Geoffrey's has been a favorite watering hole ever since it opened up, the drinks were well mixed, reasonably priced and they have always had an acceptable selection of food. Heading out for a drink meant heading out to good ol Geoffrey's (posts on Geoffrey's here)

We even had an appointed table where we would usually go and plonk ourselves down, guests, friends from abroad all got a visit or two, one of my impromptu wedding parties happened here as well, where we pretty much took over a section of the bar and were treated very well.

I was there last week with the intention of spending about 90 mins before a late dinner, so we could grab a few pints and then head on over. However it was so disappointing that we left just after one drink and elected to show up for dinner earlier and carry on there.

First of they had no oranges for the Hoegarden, secondly the drink itself ended up costing 465-475 with taxes (US$9.93 or GBP 6.3) which i think is immensely over priced. Secondly the complimentary bar snacks, which we have enjoyed over the past decade and a half, salsa, chips and peanuts took forever to show up. They would refill the chips or the salsa only one at a time which basically meant we just sat there noshing on god damned peanuts. In a relatively empty bar it was difficult to get attention.

Personally, i am not one to complain about the ridiculous prices we get charged in metros because a great deal is down to taxes and also to the monies that need to be paid for convenience (read bribes) but in all honesty, if the prices go up the service should atleast keep up rather than go the other way.

Today, there are plenty of bars/restobars one can head to for a drink and some bites. Back then Geoffrey's was a great alternative to a 5 star but now there are several options across the price range Woodside Inn, Indigo, Indigo Deli, Wink, Starboard, Dome, Aer to name just a few. Cheaper beer can be had at Mondegar, Leo etc.

So instead of upping their game Geoffrey's over the last few years they been a massive let down. Every time we go there we feel the service has gotten worse and the prices seemed to have jumped higher. During the IPL etc we used to avoid going there all together because they would jack up prices even more and we would be forced to nosh on ridiculous IPL theme dishes..

The only good thing they have going is that they introduced a new food menu a year or two ago which has some decent options at decent prices but seems too little too late for me personally.

What are your favorite watering holes wherever you are ?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paratha Mantra

Rest : Paratha Mantra
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Navbharat House, opp Trishna, Fort

About eighteen months ago i reviewed Nandu's Paratha House (read) in Fort, a fairly small hole in the wall eatery with terrific parathas. The place was owned and run by an old school friend Parin who is actually a lawyer, his wife Bhavana and their partner Antariksh.

While Nandus was a success, in order to grow, they shut Nandu's and opened as a re-branded Paratha Mantra. A new location not far from the old and thankfully no real change to the menu. The new space is much larger, feels more open, has wood paneling and seating for almost 50. The wave like ceiling is cool and there is also a private dining space on the mezzanine.

We started off with the papad churi, with a mix of khichya, nice, not as spicy as it used to be but i am not complaining.

I chose the chaas, which was pretty awesome, tasted even better chilled. Fortunately they know how good the chaas is and serve it in various sizes. Choose a regular glass or you can get a larger patiala glass version or an even larger jumbo which is in a bottle. They also do various masala sodas and the lassi is apparently a specialty.

The choice of parathas is expansive, you have the regular aloo, gobi, and other traditiona combinations as well as the more modern takes such as the cheese garlic which is one of my fav's.

One can also experiment with the funky ones such as pizza, pav bhaji or vada pav. I have had the pizza paratha before and it was spectacular. One of the parathas on our table was olive and jalapeno which was interesting, someone also ordered a diet which is basically thinner and done with less oil.

One of the cool things about the parathas is that for 45 bucks you can get a side of Dal or Rajma. I tried their dal and its truly special, just as it was at Nandus.

The lasooni palak was another stellar dish, man all that garlic was yummy.

All in all, i am not a fan of paratha places, the menu is usually generic and the execution ends up disappointing. Nandus & now Paratha Mantra are the only places i have found that can actually stand up and be counted.

The fact that they have untried recipes and winning combos (garlic cheese, pav bhaji, pizza) means they are bound to stand out. One can also choose from the several ingredients and come up with your own combination.. so its essentially a free for all best enjoyed in a large group.

Also, i think its a complete and utter misnomer to call themselves Paratha mantra.. its misleading, though their parathas are good their main courses are top notch as well. They have great daal and a strong biryani.. so its pretty much full service restaurant.

Do you guys like Paratha focused restaurants ?

Food : 9/10
Service : 9/10
Damage 1500 for 5

Full Disclosure : Parin Lakhani the owner and i are school mates/classmates and have known each other for a long time. He wouldn't let us pay as usual but we pretty much refused to budge unless he did ! This review stands on its own two legs and i hope folks go there and share their thoughts.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Taj Lands End Vista - The Atlantis Middle Eastern Special

Rest : Vista
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Taj Lands End, Bandra Bandstand.

The Lands End and particularly Vista is a happy place for me, i spent some time there when i was dating the Mrs, although we loved the food going back there often enough post wedding has been rare.

So i was quite happy when i was invited to sample the dishes at the ongoing Arabic Cuisine festival put together by the Taj Lands End & Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai. Atlantis again is a happy connection of sorts, from Spring break way back when, I had actually been to the Atlantis property in the Bahamas. It wasnt as big then, the signature towers came later.

My good friends KB & MB live in Dubai for part of the year, their house is near the Atlantis and they visit often meals especially Nobu, which they rate very well. I could go into my Nobu story but i digress.

The layout was fairly expansive, the festival dishes were in addition to the regular evening buffet but i dont think anyone really touched any of the regular food. Start with a tomato shorba with some veggies, There was a large lamb biryaniesque preparation, a tagine, cold and hot mezzes, brown rice with lentils as well as desserts. The menu shall be more or less the same throughout the festival.

There were some cold mezze starters, the dolmas were pretty good. The crunchy fried roll was allright.

The absolutely spectacular tahini fountain, falafals, grilled veggies and breads, dip and eat. I think ill take a tahini fountain to a choco one any day. Loved it.

I didnt get the name for this, it was a cross between a watered down cacik but tasted more like a liquid labneh, brilliant, garlicky taste, a mezze you can drink.

While there were a whole bunch of dishes to be tried, the falafal with tahini, the cold fattoush with toasted pita chips, all of them top notch.

Potato lightly spiced fried in olive oil were lovely. However the standout dish that i gorged on was the smooth, creamy, hummus. absolutely the best i have ever had. Freshly made and perhaps why it was such a brilliant dish and shall be the standard against which all future hummus consumption shall be judged by.

While there were plenty of desserts i played safe with a brilliant baklava

as well as a little tiramisu.

Overall the food is brilliant, while we do have Souk at the Taj & Mabruk at Sahara Star to lean on for our middle eastern fix, the food here was spectacular. The spring roll starter was perhaps the weakest offering. The festival deserves a longer run at present its on until 18th September at 2100 per person.

I was also in a rather long conversation with Lands End GM Birgit Zorniger, a remarkable woman who knows the India hotel scene inside out. She happened to mention that Riva a Mediterranean restaurant that will replace Pure should open by mid-October.

As i was there by invitation, a rating would not be appropriate but in general the food, service and company were all top notch.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

All Stiry Fry - Return of the Prodigal

Rest : All Stir Fry
Meal: Lunch
Loc : The Gordon House Hotel, Near Regal Cinema, Colaba

Talk about a blast from the past (previous visits here and here) my good friend and frequent dining companion Mr.Patel and i were having one of our inane chats and All Stir Fry somehow came up, turns out, we hadn't been there for a good three of four years. We wondered if it was still around. Back in the day we used to end up there for our Asian fix a few times a month. However the quality really went downhill, some of the dishes we loved too disappeared.

Also, the dining scene in the city took a great surge forward with more cuisines and options mushrooming up. Chinese food though joyous has always been unhealthy and hard on the stomach, so it ASF all but disappeared.. until now.

While discussing lunch options on this bank holiday week we settled on All Stir Fry, to try out our old stomping ground going in expecting the worse. An addition being my wife, who tagged along, she was not in the picture during ASF's heyday.

The menu is much the same, dishes that cover a fairly wide area of Asian cuisine, you have Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and of course Thai with a smattering of Japanese. There is also a separate Dim Sum Menu. One can also do the Wok, where you get a bowl, fill up your ingredients (veg & non-veg) pick a sauce and toppings and they cook it for you while you wait.

The place too has not changed much in the last few years, it was always a pretty slickly done, Asian inspired layout, still one of the best casual dining layout in the city, i absolutely love the benches that give it a street food stand feel, although your back can only take so much. The biggest change they had made was when they took over the neighboring sea food restaurant Tides and doubled the floor space. This was also the time when the food and service really went downhill.

For those picking the Wok, as the three of us did, there are plenty of options you can choose from Onions, Peppers, Mushrooms, Bamboo Shoots, Carrots, Corn, Leafy options to fill up your bowl with. Add one or more of the five kind of noodles, choose from the dozen or so sauces (mild, hot, spicy) and add your toppings (crushed pepper, chilli flakes, garlic, crushed peanuts etc etc etc) There is a fairly large selection of meats as well.

As you can tell, i really love mushrooms

the wife chose bean sprouts and corn (yes, she could be slightly deranged)

i stuck to my old formula, mushrooms, onions, peppers, bamboo shoots, spaghetti thin noodles, garlic and crushed peanuts. The sauces i went for were Woh Ping which is mild, Kung Pao & hunan both of which were hot.

One can taste the sauces separately before ordering too. Next time i am hoping to try some of the Spicy selections. I would also say that one must make at least three trips to the Wok and therefore its important to fill the bowl as little as possible before handing it over.

The Wok was not bad at all, its also a very well priced option (450 + taxes) a shame that it took so long to come back, the service was strictly okay and i think the menu and the Wok need some refreshing but otherwise no complaints.

I think i will easily be back here soon enough.

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage for 3 without drinks 1800

Friday, September 02, 2011

Foodie Survey for Forbes Magazine - Prizes to be Won

Hi Guys,

A short and quick foodie survey is being conducted by the good folks at Network 18 & Forbes Magazine.

Do fill it up, there is a chance you could win one of many cool things -
  • Forbes India subscription
  • A Forbes Life India subscription
  • Vouches from Burrp (for restaurants in BOM,DEL,BGLR,HYD,PUNE)
  • Vouchers worth 2500 from A Perfect Bite
Survey Link

And no, i didn't get anything in cash, kind or promises (except that one of my blog readers may win) for sharing this !
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