Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Hour @ Ellipsis

Ellipsis opened with much fanfare a little while ago and the reactions to it have been mostly mixed. The culinary celebrity behind the scenes raised expectations wildly. It has certainly made it a place to go by sheer notoriety and infamy. However it has not altered the culinary landscape of the city as most people expected it to.

Since i have not dined there ill keep this short and quick.

I was meeting AJ( for a drink and decided on Ellipsis since i had only been there once and had left without eating or drinking due to a change in plan.

I started off with the Old Fashioned which was Bourbon, bitters and demera i think. This baby was strong.. ill say one thing, the bar tenders here are not short changing you on the quantity. A little bit more of the mixers would have softened the taste a tad, this literally felt like a massive shot of whiskey. A friend of mine just told me that this is the cocktail of choice for Don Draper.. interesting.

The fried cheese, we split an appetizer and boy was this something. Brilliant, cheesy as hell, a tad sweet but spot on. i could eat loads. I will say i am not a fan of odd sized servings.

The American was the last one i picked, this was if i remember correctly Campari, Vermouth amongst other things. Again not bad but the taste was neither here nor there.

Overall, Ellipsis has the quality offering right, they arent trying to rip you off or fob you off which at their prices i wouldn't expect them to either.

They also have a MASSIVE list of cocktails (but no real special beers or ales) so one should feel free to experiment. I had a peek at the food menu on the way out, it was a one pager which i think is daring and changes with availability of ingredients which i reckon is smart. The pricing also was not as prohibitive as i was led to believe, although it is certainly on the higher side.

Will definitely check them out for dinner one of these days.

Damage : 3000 for 4 cocktails and appetizer during happy hours (6-8)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Angsana Hotel - Phuket

I was in Thailand recently, a part of it was spent at the wedding of my one of my best mates kid brother. They chose Phuket as a location and there was lots of anxiety about how things would go but boy did they hit a home run.

an aerial view of the property (not my picture)

The property chosen was The Angsana in the Laguna area, which is about 20kms away from the town of Phuket. Phuket town in itself is really not all that interesting for someone like me (lazy, not a sex tourist or a bargain hunter) and i would highly recommend picking one of among half dozen properties in this location if you want a self contained and relaxing vacation.

The Lobby which is not pictured here is also quite stunning, exactly what i would expect from a high end Thai resort, spacious, open, ethnic Thai style even lovelier in the evening than in the day. Unfortunately when we entered we were led through a smaller entrance for wedding check ins and didnt notice it till much later.

The property has been renovated post the Tsunami and if i recall correctly was re-opened late last year, which is why everything is in tremendous newness. Built around a lagoon, most of the rooms either face a pool, beach or the laguna itself.

The room we got was the Laguna King Room, which came with twin beds a couch and an ample gallery outside. I also had a look at the one room loft which is very nice, has a view of the laguna and the beach and is appropriate for a family with kids or more people wanting to stay together. For a couple, you need not look further.

The bathroom was spacious with a large, ornate tub, the kit was nothing fancy, basic stuff but no complaints. Complimentary bottles of water were placed here instead of the room.

Our rooms had a splendid view of the beach and were extremely well located. A short flight of stairs led to the gym or to the breakfast buffet, a few steps led to the infinity pool and the beach.One can take a boat ride to any of the other Laguna properties or hit the market place as desired.

Speaking of the Infinity pool, here it is, although there are a bunch of other, larger pools on the property, this was the most fun to spend time at. There is a bar a few feet away. No complaints, although i don't recommend drinking and swimming. No Lifeguards on duty.

While i rarely put pics of myself up, this is the best way for me to illustrate the massive private beach which spreads across the Laguna properties and stretches for miles. It really is the only way to visit a beach, there were maybe 2o people across that entire stretch.

While hotel reviews are not my area of expertise, i will say that the property is stunning in every which way, we requested a couple of things from the front desk, the concierge and house keeping and barring a nail clipper all of them were promptly delivered.

The staff is prompt, attentive and willing to go the extra mile if needs be. Language can be a barrier but if you are a little patient you can easily get through to them. The location is quite stunning and if you tire of the surroundings or the options, a small but interesting market, restaurant strip is a few mins away.

From the food perspective, the breakfasts were large and sumptuous, which spoil you for choice. All other meals were catered for the wedding and would be unfair to comment. A room like ours without meals starts at 4500THB (140$US)

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I was in Thailand all of last week for the wedding of an old friend. Most of my life i have traveled and lived in the west, the East came into my system late in life, somehow Thailand has never attracted me, however having been there i can understand its lure.

The country is not as glossy as Singapore or as intense as Hong Kong but it has a laid back charm of its own. The people are welcoming for the most part but since Indian's are not the best travelers in the world you get a little blowback because of your nationality.

Like most countries that are cheap(er) and are driven by a tourist economy Thailand has a seamy side which can be difficult to handle. For those looking to indulge in this aspect, its quite out in the open and people hustle, try to sell you things. Those not looking at the underbelly, will find that people from all across the world melt on their white sandy beaches and dip in its blue green waters. There is adventure, shopping, gastronomy and relaxation to be found.

Our first experience with food was a quick dine and dash at the Burger King in Suvaranabhumi airport before our connecting flight to Krabi. Burger King in Thailand really have McDonalds beat, they not only do a veggie burger which is pretty decent but one can choose between hash browns, fries and even onion rings. Hell yeah !

The first place we went was Krabi, which is an hour away from Bangkok. We stayed in Ao Nang, The place is very touristy/resorty with loads of hotels and the typical shops that come with a town like that. There are a bunch of small islands within 10-30 mins from Ao Nang which can be reached via jetty and some of these are spectacular.

We chose Poda because it is extremely small with very few people on it. There was a small bar selling beer and cocktails, another little stand that sold corn and some salad. It was a perfect afternoon, the sun was out, the local brew Singha which goes brilliantly with Thai food (as expected) was cold and the Pina Colada was strong. We spent a few hours just sitting in the sun and swimming in the water which was more fun than i have had in a long time.

We ordered room service later on in the day, at our hotel (The Aquamarine) unfortunatley there was not a lot of choice so we played it safe.
We ordered room service later on in the day, at our hotel (The Aquamarine) unfortunately there was not a lot of choice so we played it safe. The French Onion was not bad, the caprese was served very interestingly but the tomatoes were super cold. Garlic bread was kind of nice.

The wedding was at the Angsana which is a tremendous property in the Laguna section of Phuket, surrounded by other stunning properties of Dusit Thani, JW.Marriot, it was fabulous, our room was right on the private beach. If you are in phuket pick a Laguna property, you will not be sorry.

Breakfast at the Angsana in Phuket. Not bad.

A special mention for Pomodoro, the Italian restaurant in Centre Point in Sukumvit. The food was fabulous. The spaghetti was fantastic, the risotto was just as good. They served this tomato salsa and a sauce which was totally deranged good. It was gone in less than sixty seconds, the pizza was not so bad either. The whole meal was perfect, four of us were totally satiated. At 1100THB it was super value for money.

Things got better the next day, we headed to Thai Peppery at The Paragon also in Sukumvit. The Tom Yum was perfect, not too spicy like its done in India quite often, it was however super hot. The Pad Thai was yummy, exactly what a Pad Thai must taste like. The Green Curry was not bad, it lacked the sweet after taste we get sometimes, while it was not bad at all i would say that it was not a patch on the Thai Red Curry at Thai Pavilion. All washed down by Singha.

Famed Parisian baker Lenotre have an outlet here, all of the desserts pretty good, not great but pretty good. Approx 150THB each.

Sunrise taco outlets are in and around, they have a healthy menu and serve margaritas. Unfortunately the food is actually not that good. While it was not bad, i would not go there again, certainly better choices for Tex-Mex around.

Mrs Jain drank a heap of coconuts, while i did too and enjoyed them but they were not as good as our local coconuts. Mrs Jain would vehemently disagree.

One of my fav things, that i could not get enough off was the Strawberry Smoothie, served with a hint of yoghurt, some strawberry juice. It was delicious and at 40THB a steal.

So all in all, the food in Thailand is brilliant, certainly better than Bombay and a whole lot cheaper, if you dont go for the beaches and the hospitality, you can certainly go for the food.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Cafe Pico Express

I visited Cafe Pico Express, a few weeks ago and enjoyed their food more or less. They have an express location in a gym not very far from my home and office, i was hoping they would start delivering soon.

I saw the leaflet while entering the flat and called them up right away. The menu is health focused so there are soups, salads, sandwiches and some pasta as well as juices & smoothies. The food came in a very cool little bag which i am sure they can skimp on to save on cost.

I ordered the roast tomato and garlic soup. The cup seemed deceptively small, however it was a nice portion. Unfortunately it was on the bland side, it lacked serious flavour, especially with the promise of garlic.
The Falafal wrap, meant to be eaten cold (as said on the menu) was actually not bad. The portion was sizable and it tasted good.

Overall, the menu is a mix of Mediterranean & Asian dishes, which are priced very well. So if you are in the mood for a healthy meal which does burn a hole in the pocket, give them a call.

Food : 7/10
Service : NA
Damage : 150

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Cheated by American Express

My American Express saga which included incompetence, blatant lying and total disregard for the customer shall be updated when i return from Thailand next week.
Until then, be good and be safe ya'll.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The Big Nasty

Rest : The Big Nasty
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Near Olive, off Carter Road, Bandra

The Big Nasty, was a last minute choice, we hard three groups of people converging around 7pm and the best we could come up with was The Big Nasty. I had never heard of the place but was willing to give it a try. One of our parties was already in but they weren't getting a table for some weird reason.
When we entered we were stopped by a guard who asked for some money to give us a drinking permit for the day. Its good to see bars following the law, no matter how ridiculous and irrational it maybe. Anyway, the whole thing was quite weird, first they wouldnt let us through, then they made us get permits and insisted on a reservation. WTF.. is all i could think. Why do bars need reservations early on a Sat evening?

In any case, four of our party was made to wait, then we were offered a shitty table and once they saw we were a group of eight, they were able to give us a proper table almost immediately. I was already uninterested in being there after all this drama.

We got the veggie platter which had some average onion rings, some not so bad Quessadilas, fiery jalapeno poppers and a little bruschetta/crostini which was the best thing on the platter. Nothing great. and pray why the f*** would you serve a platter like this with sour cream?

The Nachos were extremely badly put together, the tortilla chips seemed readymade out of a pack, the beans nor the the salsa had any real flavour. a complete, let down.

The Burger we got had an option to be turned up to the Big Nasty Burger which is a double patty for 50 rupees. unable to resist a bargain i doubled up and naturally i lost. The decision came to haunt me as now i had doubled the size of a completely horrid burger. It was basically a potato patty with some pickle and a slice of cheese.
Even students in a college cafeteria could do a better job for sure.

we had a couple of beers, although i didnt drink any, there might have been a cocktail as well, cannot recall.

Overall, the place is well laid out but the ambiance is terrible. They played absolutely horrendous music (The CD must have been labelled the WORST of the 90's)

The menu is mostly Americam/Tex Mex but the food has pretty much no redeeming quality at all, nor does the place. For folks who make it such a pain in the ass to enter and get a table they seem to avoid filling the giant holes in their sofas.

No way im going back and i reckon you should stay the hell away too, unless you are looking for misery.
Food : 3/10
Service : 6/10
Damage : appetizers and some beers for a party of 8 at 6000.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The Lost Week

In the 1920's Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, T.S.Eliot amongst others were a group of artists & writers that came of age in the shadow of World War I, they were called the Lost Generation

In the 1940's Billy Wilder made a ground breaking film about an alcoholic writer called The Lost Weekend.

While i cannot profess anything remotely close to the level of talent contained above, nonetheless i too experienced a lost week in the culinary wilderness.

This was the reasonably delicious mushroom soup i had at Corniche in Bandra, however the rest of the meal was quite a let down, average salad, mediocre pasta, excellent company however.

This was followed by dinner at All Stir Fry, once a favorite which fell by the way side only to rise into prominence again.
We did the Wok which is pretty much filling up bowls with noodles & veggies which can be cooked in a variety of chosen sauces etc.

The sauces i went for were the Schezuan & Kung Pao, couldn't tell you which one was worse. Completely ruined the evening for us, in fact both my brother & cousin who i dined with got sick the next morning. (2100 for 3 no drinks)

This one was the hardest blow, Papa Pancho has been a fav of mine ever since i started visiting Bandra a few years ago. In fact my order probably hasn't changed in all the years i have dined there.

The Papdi Chaat was the only flicker in a miserable down ward spiral. Delicious.

The Paneer Makhani, my usual pick felt like it was made the night before, no flavour at all. Absolutely no redeeming quality whatsoever. The Dal was tasteless, only the yoghurt was fresh and tasty, not much of a consolation. (850 for 2)

Thus, the week ended, the mighty fell, favorites were laid to rest and new ones must be sought. Life goes on.
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