Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ripped Off at Haagen Daz

 So Haagen opened shop in South Bombay finally, apparently they had an outlet at a mall in Malad a little while ago, so with 30 mins to kill before Hugo (fantastic movie, must see) we decided to head down to H-D and get some dessert.

Now, i am a fan of HD and no trip to London is complete without a session at their Leicester Square outlet, its something i have been doing for the best part of a decade. Same with their outlet in Singapore's Centre point. 

So what went down in the store was not just a massive disappointment it was also more or less fraudulent.

I ordered their coffee with beglian chocolate which is served with choc sauce as well. Now, i have had coffee at HD before many times and its almost always served like an afogato with ice cream, shot of espreso poured in along with milk or just the choc sauce. 

Now, completely oblivious to me,  the gentleman who took our order informed my wife that there was no Belgian Chocolate when she asked for a scoop. My nose was buried in the menu and i did not hear this bit. In any case she went for the chocolate chips and i went for a cup of coffee.  

Ten minutes later they come by with the coffee and one sip and i know there is no Belgian chocolate in it. I asked the server to come by the table and then i told them the problem.

He went on to tell me that they blended the ice cream in the coffee already which was a total laugh because the coffee was pretty hot, no way it was blended with ice cream, besides i was pretty sure that is not the way its meant to be served.

Then of course the wife chimed into say that she was informed there was NO Belgian chocolate so how come they blended the ice-cream with it.

At this point the chappie said he would be back and then 10 mins later sent his manager to deal with the situation.

The manager tried to fob me off with the same crap, saying its blended and when i countered that it was NOT blended and that they didn't even HAVE any Belgian chocolate he was speechless. He continued to insist that they have never had any problems and that this is exactly how the coffee is served. When i told him to maybe get me a book with directions from corporate which says so he had no answers.  

He did offer to get us something else but we had 10 mins to go before the movie started and i was already quite annoyed with all the lying. I wish customer service people would just stop lying and trying to save their own asses, it never works out well for anyone, not the brand, not the customer and certainly not the employee. 

For the record, the chocolate chips was atrociously bad. 

No chocolate anywhere whatsoever, i mean it looked the part but that was it. So for 240 rupees we had some pretty mediocre ice-cream and were lied to. as well. They got the décor right, that's about it.

Quite an experience. If you want chocolate chip get some from Amul, not only is it all kinds of awesome its cheap as hell too. Not going back i am sure.

Fortunately the movie was beyond great and ergo the evening was salvaged.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

rest: smoke house deli
loc : phoenix mills, lower parel
meal : lunch

I have written about my visits to Smoke House Deli before (here) not only is it one of the most interestingly designed places in the city, its also a viable and slightly cheaper option to Indigo Deli. In the short time they have been open, they have become fairly popular, have been turned away twice due to interminably long waits.

So i was only too happy to accept their invitation to a preview of their new Summer menu this past week. The old menu continues supplemented by daily specials, however they have now launched a summer specific menu as well which will run through the season.

They have a new Cucumber & Dill Soup served cold with a smattering of white balsamic. Brilliant little concoction this one, perfect for the summer, very refreshing.

The Beetroot & Mustard soup also served cold was not to my liking, i have never been a big fan of beetroot but and this one was definitely weaker than the cucumber/dill.

The Cherry Tomato with Sour mix & Tequila was fantastic, not a very summery option but still very interesting. A little along the lines of the Sangrita i had at Wahaca in London (here) went down very well indeed.

Carrots with Raisins & Pineapple Mayo.. a little sweet but it went down pretty well. Nice light salad to do the job.

Chickpea, croutons in olive oil and curry vinaigrette, this one was intriguing. Not only did it taste brilliant but the curry taste turns this into something more than a salad. A new taste this one.

The roast vegetable gallet was a  little weird. While the pesto and the cheese tasted okay, the base itself was difficult and unwieldy to eat.  Perhaps re imagining the dish without the base might make it better. The Goat Cheese & Pine Nut Ravioli was a better dish, though a tad too creamy.

A mocktail of tangerine and i think raspberry was fantastic, deserves a place on the permanent menu, very nicely done, a great way to kick the heat.

The Berry Pavlova was decent but the mango cheesecake was soft and on the money. No crust, which is odd for a cheesecake but nicely done nonetheless.

Overall, the summer menu is a good addition to the regular menu, the soup and salads are great, the main courses are a bit hit & miss. The Beverages are fantastic. Smoke House Deli would move up a notch further if they were to learn a few tricks from their molecular gastronomy inclined elder brother based in Delhi

                                                     Full Disclaimer : I was there by invitation

Friday, May 18, 2012

Le Mill - Cafe Pico

Le Mill is an oddly located store which  houses furniture, clothing, a  florist and an outlet of Cafe Pico.

Cafe Pico has lately been on an expansion spree and have also set up at the horrid Phoenix Market City.

Anyway, Le Mill is located in Masjid Bunder, which is actually about 10 mins from where i live but having never been there it took us about 20 to locate the place.

Located in an old mill, the place is a smashing, if we had more offices like this, the city would be a lot more fun to work in. The mill structure has been retained and the old worn out industrila motif has been carried significantly forward.

The architect was a year junior to me in high school. 

The menu is plenty interesting, like most popular restaurants/cafes in the city, it too has a strong Mediterranean bent.
The salads especially are very interesting and on the money.

We were there on Sunday and they were serving a Sunday Brunch which was culled from the menu.

A little disappointed by that but it is what it is.  The staff however were willing to get us items for the menu if we so wished (we didn't, i hate pushing chefs to do things the don't want to)

The Fritata, was okay. Fits in well with the menu but not the strongest of flavours.

The Orange Juice was prfct, had more than a glass, and it would have made a kickass mimosa (one should definetely try a Mimosa at Indigo Deli made with Malta Oranges, smashing.

The rest of the brunch was the usual suspects, a bunch of egg preparations, french toast, muesli, eggs sunny side up.

 Smashing pancakes with a side of maple syrup. I wish they served some fruit compote but they didnt have any. We made our own little strawberry spread with fresh strawberries they were serving.

This was the poached figs with pecorino i think, again not bad at all, bitter leaves, sweet figs and a regulation cheese. Not bad.

The Barley salad with some cherry tomato, french beans in a sort of lemony dressing, was very summery. Went back for seconds.

 They also serve mains made to order, the one we shared was a pesto main, which was not too bad, a little under salted but that was easily remedied.

Overall, The Cafe Pico is a victory of design, rather than the usual, overly laid out spaces one tends to visit nowadays, this one is the other way, quite under designed which makes it very interesting  to be in and around.

However, the food is imaginative and actually pretty decent, worth a go, perhaps the other locations will be in keeping with the theme. Price wise, the restaurant offers way more value for money than similar places and we need more evenly priced locations in this city.

Maybe its compensation for the trek one must make to find it.

Food : 7/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 800pp for brunch Non Alcoholic Beverages (250 for OJ & a can of Sprite)

(Something is seriously wrong with my template, ergo why the pics and text are a little out of whack)

Friday, May 11, 2012


Rest : Francescos Pizzeria 
Meal : Dinner (Takeout) 
Loc : Chinoy Mansion, Warden Road, Gate Next to Precious 

Sunday evening, hunger pangs usually lead to us ordering something and then waiting forever to get it. We decided to head to our club for dinner instead but half way down Chowpatty saw that the floodlights were on at Wankhede which could only mean an abominable IPL match, which meant the club facilities would be closed.

So we turned around and were thinking of ordering Dominos (which i dislike) or Smokin Joes (which i like but takes forever to deliver, especially on Sunday) It occurred to me that there were two pizza joints we had not tried.  One was Junos which is addressed as Hughes Road, no building no number. The other was Francesco's Pizzeria

If it had only occurred to us 30 mins before, we wouldn't have had to go half way down Marine Drive and then turn back, Francesco's is about a 10 min walk from my place. In any case, Francesco's has just about the worse location, its located in a lane right next to Precious Hairdressers, opposite St.Stephens Church at Warden Road (why they have addressed it as Kemps Corner i will never understand)

Now, real estate being what it is in Bombay, the location itself does not bother me one bit, conversely its inconvenient location raised my expectations quite a bit, thoughts of a glorious pizzeria tucked away in a garage was quite a romantic foodie notion.

The place is small, a handful of tables that can seat at the most ten people, since the tables were full we decided to get the pizza to go. The menu is small, about a dozen and a half pizza options (7,10,13 inch) with some desserts. One can choose to make their own pizza as well. 

We ordered some garlic bread (50 i think) which was softy and very oily to taste. 

The 10inch Margherita (225) was absolutely ordinary, really nothing to write home about. The sauce was flat and the cheese had no character, just really tasteless.

The other option we chose was Margherita 13 inch with jalapeños and mushrooms i think (450 =330 + 50 per topping) The toppings made this better than the 10 incher but that itself is nothing to write home about.

Overall, the interminable wait for the pizza did annoy us a little but they have only been open for a few days and I am willing to cut them some slack for it. I would also be okay with the wait if it was worth it, however i thought their pizzas were terrible.

The crust is thin, not Indigo Deli thin but just about, they have a wheat base option but no regular crust ( i like any crust, thin, regular, deep dish, whatever)

So not only was it bad pizza, it was not filling (which is a good thing i guess) and the price pretty much killed any little joy that was to be found.. They didn't even cut the pizzas and we ended up pawing at them like hyenas.

Its one thing if they had some crazy artists putting their heart and soul in it and charging a bomb, that i can live with but this was sheer mediocrity and 800 bucks for mediocrity is way too much. We had to pick up a salad and a half sub (250 bucks) at Subway next door because we were sure this would not be enough.

Id order Domino's before id order from Francesco's again.. and i HATE Domino's.

Papa Johns where art thou?

Food : 3/10
Service : 5/10
Damage : 800

PS. The wife and i have been arguing about this, she thinks the pizza was pretty good (but then she married me, so i cant say much about her state of mind) perhaps i will do another test and revert at some point long as she is paying. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Dolce Vita

Rest : Dolce Vita
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Highstreet Phoenix

One of my post movie rituals at Phoenix High Street is to stop by Dolce Vita and then the Food Hall to see if any of my favourites have made an appearance (Strong Bow cider, Sarsons Malt Vinegar, McV's Jaffa Cakes etc) so far i have only found the malt vinegar at both places. Still 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Post Avengers, whilst strolling around Dolce Vita, we decided to check out their Cafe and give the usual Moshe & Indigo Deli a miss. We could spy an empty table and that sealed the deal.

Dolce Vita is modelled after Dean & Deluca in spirit if not in size, while a cafe within a grocery store is fairly common abroad in India it is quite a rarity. The accent and product range within the store is high end and we assumed the menu would be the same.

However the menu was quite accessible, a world menu with a something for everyone vibe. Usually that is a red flag to me, because i have been to very few restaurants that can truly cater to everyone, including 5 star coffee shops. The mains are more or less European inspired which is different from the pasta heavy options in and around Phoenix. 

Also happened to notice some old school favs, which you don't see around too much nowadays, French Onion soup being one, Creamed Spinach the other. 

 trusty ol tonic for the mrs.

superb ice tea, was so good i had another one right away

The French Onion  i had to order, thankfully the garlic toast came on the side, i have seen a few places set it afloat in the soup which makes it a bit of a soggy mess. The soup itself was good a little more flavour would have made it absolutely awesome.

Mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese were a no brainer, not bad either, i added a little extra balsamic vinegar on em and it went from good to great.

The Caprese was pretty good too, them Mediterranean folk really know how to keep it simple, caprese is a travel staple for us when in Europe. It came with a little balasmic drizzle, some flecks of pesto and some herbs. nicely done

The couscous salad should have been the first indicator of things to come, this was literally the biggest salad i have seen in this country. romaine, green beans, squash, olives and of course couscous.Not bad, a summery salad.

The wife uncharacteristically ordered a burger which she liked from the get go. Unfortunately this was again too big a dish, the giant bowl of crispy fries was brilliant but had to be left alone as well..

The burrito, served with sour cream and salsa, was nice. They were out of guacamole and i noticed the hub hub in the corner of the restaurant which indicated to me that they did not have fresh guacamole. I saw them trying to find some avocados in the restaurant but they weren't ready either.

A little disappointing but ive seen the same complaint made at (Sanchos, the erstwhile Taco Fresco, Sammy Sosa, only Starboard gets avocado on demands.. but then that's the Taj) Thankfully they did not try to fob us off with avocado paste (which the wife uses when avocados aren't available)

My only complaint here was that there were no refried beans in the burrito just rice.

I was far too stuffed to get the cheese course to finish off, the wife preferred to go with the server's recommendation the White Chocolate Fondant, the menu says its served with whisky ice cream but i think it was served with plain ol Vanilla.

I must say this is probably one of the best desserts available out there, up there with the Belgian Chocolate at Indigo Deli. Beyond delicious, this one is a must have. The wife wolfed it down and she is not a fan of white chocolate.

Overall, the space is decent and the menu attractive. The focus and style is definitely on the European side for the mains without being too Mediterranean which is refreshing to see.  

I have seen crowds there most of the time, so the experiment must be working. However they should surely market it a little as a stand alone restaurant/ dining option as the food is good and should have a larger audience.

The service is warm and friendly but the dishes can take a little time to come around.

For the carnivores, they have a butcher shop where one can pick up meat or sea food  and the chef will cook it as per your desire. They had some New Zealand Beef on sale, so steak aficionados, should check it out.

The  pricing is on the higher side but cheaper than an Indigo Deli, so not a bank breaker. I did not notice till we were leaving that they have a full bar and cocktail menu beyond the wine list.

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 2500 for 2 without drinks. 
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