Friday, July 27, 2012

Spaghetti Kitchen Dinner with Bill Marchetti

A few days ago i had the chance to dine with Italian chef and all round enfant terrible Bill Marchetti, now of the Spaghetti Kitchen. Bill is actually a half German, half Italian who grew up in Australia and has worked around the world. Before Spaghetti Kitchen he also ran Westview for the ITC group in Delhi.

First thing i noticed about Bill was that he likes his drinks and he likes to talk, which means he is great dinner company. Add to that one of my fav people in the world is also someone he happens to know and like very much and you have the makings of a stellar evening (we were joined by Salonee and Aatish Nath)

Started off with a glass of Yellow Tail Chardonnay, i am not averse to new world wines and this one went down swimmingly well.

The Caprese is a classic, as mentioend before, its one of my fav salads and its all i ate for breakfast during my time in Italy-Greece. Not complicated to do but the whole thing lives and dies by freshness. They get their Mozzarella from North India because of buffalo milk and also because sourcing it locally keeps it fresh.

This one was a bit of a shocker, paneer skewers dont seem like they belong on the Spaghetti Kitchen menu. I would put this down to Bill's time in Delhi, i certainly would never have the audacity to order them. However they were brilliant, succulent, tasty and there was some pineapple in the middle which i absolutely loved.

When it comes to Bruschetta, i like mine the traditional way, however i am always open to trying new things. The mushrooms was okay, the sun dried tomato was great, Bill insisted i try his fav the Spinach, unfortunately i did not share his enthusiasm for it.

The little quinoa side salad was interesting, not bad but nothing spectacular, im not a fan of quinoa (or Dukkah)

The Smoked Walnut & Cheese Ravioli was creamy, cheese stuffed and not bad, light to taste, again its not something i am a fan of, i prefer heavier flavours but it was certainly not bad.

The grilled veggies were nice, cept not sure how much i like corn here.

The spaghetti with mushrooms, was perfectly lovely. Nice, light flavour, accentuated by a little helping of Parmesan.

The Zuppa Inglese was god-damned good. Spot on. Next time I am going to go for th colourful ones.
The tiramisu was interesting, a little twist on the traditional but still pretty good.

The chocolate hazlenut creme brulee was again, pretty different but still good.

Overall, it was a lovely evening, good food, good company and great conversation.The food was good, Spaghetti Kitchen is miles ahead of its sister restaurants Noodle Bar & Bombay Blue.

Its also nice to see a chef who comes to a foreign land and focuses on getting the best possible ingredients and suppliers possible locally rather than importing and freezing. However Bill Marchetti does not seem so foreign, he has been in India for a while and like most people who come to this country, he too has become one of us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Breakfast @ Garware Club (BCA)

We woke up early last weekend and decided to go out for breakfast, however since Saturday is a full working day we decided not to venture too far and headed to my club. The Garware sits in the shadow of The Wankhede Stadium and unlike most other clubs in Bombay, Garware is relatively newer and has a smaller footprint. The entire complex was ripped out and has been under heavy re-construction for a while. In another two-three years they expect a few more restaurants to show up, which will be welcome.

We started with the Idly which was fairly ordinary, no great shakes. The Sambar & Chutney was spicy.

The chilli cheese toast is a must have, brilliant.
The Veg Club Sandwich too is a snack staple i have been gorging on since i was a kid. Back when i was a kid, it was daunting to think about finishing it alone, lot easier now.

Mrs J ordered the paneer pakoras, maybe coz it was a rainy day, not bad at all.

The whole thing was washed down with a Fresh Lime Soday.

Overall, the club is a safe space to dine out in, the food is usually pretty good if inconsistent but the snacks are always on the mark.

Food 7/10
Service 8/10
Damage : 250

Sunday, July 15, 2012


Rest : Dakshinayan
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Teenbatti, Walkeshwar

Dakshinayan sits on the insanely busy Teen Batti/Walkeshwar stretch, in fact the restaurant is bang opposite the turn where teen batti meets the road towards Hanging Garden.Beware of rush hour.

Though they have been around for a while, i have always been partial to the Matunga joints for my South Indian fix. So on a complete lark at 9.30 on Sunday night we decided to go check Dakshinayan out (Jjamppong sits about 120 meters away)

We started with the rasam of which there was a bowl full. Good stuff this, immense heat but not too spicy and not very sour either. The only thing annoying was the boat load of pepper that I had to keep spitting out.

The molgapudi idli was pretty good, mrs Jain thought it was the best she had tasted in a long time. While i didnt think it was that great it certainly was not bad. A little ghee or butter would have really made it awesome.

The garlic rava dosa was quite spicy, had opted for the rava and no the mysore to avoid the fiery stuff but it showed up nonetheless. Had to leave half of it.

Their sambar is not bad, mild and not to sweet.

they serve two chutneys and the brown one is a LOT spicier than the red one.

The appam and stew was not bad. The appams could have been better and the stew was very mild and bordering on the sweet.

The curd rice was pretty decent, however add the pickle they serve on the side and it completely changes into all kinds of wonderful! Absolutely brilliant.

Overall Dakshinayan is a decent option to the Matunga belt, especially if you live 10 mins away like us. The food is decent and if they just tweak things a little, it could be stellar. They need to make a little effort and it could really push things up a notch.

For example, the china they serve the food in, is not only chipped but inconvenient to eat from. Rasam can be served in a glass, and without the 100 pieces of pepper. The stew in a soup bowl is very inconvenient.

Also, the idlis we had were definitely not the freshest, the appam was okay, the stew was sweet. Maybe it being Sunday night, they had prepped things for speed.

Service is efficient but not very friendly, the waiters seem to have the aloof South Indian style down pat. They are also a dubious lot, serving bottled water on the table and adding it to the check without asking. When we did point it out, they took it off by scratching it away.

Worth a try if you are in the mood but not willing to go drive to Matunga.

Food : 7/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 500

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Salt Water Cafe

Rest : Salt Water Cafe
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Near Lilavati Hospital, Bandra West.

Sunday evening a bunch of friends decided to meet, since some of them were coming in from the suburbs, Bandra was the neutral venue. Originally we intended to nosh at Cafe Basilico but as i am friends with a bunch of alchies, the party wanted a change of venue.

I was a little unsure if we would be able to get a table but 9ish on a Sunday evening we walked in and were seated almost immediately at the Salt Water Cafe. Bombay does not seem to be going out in the rain.

Salt Water Cafe is a pleasant, well lit cafe on an outrageously busy street. This was my second or third visit there, the menu is very much like Moshe/Cafe Basilico/Indigo Deli they serve breakfast, sandwiches, pasta some mains and dessert.

We started off with a pitcher of Sangria (2000) a tad sweet but it went down quick. One can also get a pitcher of Margarita, certainly do regret not getting one instead of the Sangria.

The potatoes were surprisingly bland in taste. The crust was cooked nicely but there was just no flavour inside.

The mushrooms were quite disappointing, no great shakes here.

The bocconcini with tomato was not bad, as a salad caprese is pretty simple but its no good if the ingredients aren't fresh. Same thing here, while the cheese was certainly not stale, it wasn't super fresh either. The balsamic onion dressing was yum.

The stars of the show were the two appetizers we ordered, both served in super cool airtight glass jars. Served with impossibly thin and crunchy bread the marinated mushrooms were delicious, they had a hint of sweetness. Brilliant.

The other was the marinated feta... EVIL EVIL stuff, just couldn't stop myself from reaching into the jar again and again. Olive oil and feta, the simplest things are the most amazing.

The Lasagna came with a nice chunk of eggplant, not bad, possibly the best dish of the lot, quite hearty. This one was okay, if you want kickass Lasagna head to Tratorria at the President.

Penne in a Jalapeno cream with sun dried tomatoes. I plain and simple mis-ordered on this one. I was originally going for the mushroom cous-cous with onion stew but somehow i ended up with the Penne. It was weak and just too sour overall, couldn't get beyond that.

Ravioli was with grilled veggies was another downer. Although i didn't have more than two bites, it was just creaminess, no discernible flavour.

The brun pav with ham, was left half uneaten. Good to see a brun make an appearance in a restaurant though.

The risotto was with sun dried tomato, olives, peppers and jalapeno cream. A strong taste, much like the Sicilian risotto at Moshe but not as good. The taste of basil was overpowering but overall it was not bad but certainly not great.

The dessert were the creme brulee which was average and the flour less chocolate fudge with caramel crunch ice cream. The fudge was okay, the little berry compote drizzle was nice, the caramel crunch ice cream was butter scotch without the nuts.

Overall, the place is large and well lit the ambiance is what you would expect of popular, modern eatery.
Food wise however they have a lot of niggles to work out especially with dishes and their overall impact. The menu is imaginative, each dish sounds excellent on paper, the marinated feta/mushrooms are not only great in taste but the presentation is nice as well.

However the creativity is not being translated into strong flavours. Perhaps a slightly leaner menu might allow them to focus a little bit more.

The service was quick, friendly and prompt.

Food : 7/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 6500 for 7 with drinks.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Ice Cream Works

Rest : Ice Cream Works
Meal : Lunch
Loc : High Street Phoenix

Yesterday at lunch Mrs.J & i could not figure out where to go, the usual delis & moshe were out of the question.We were looking for something new or at the very least something interesting. Without purpose we drove to Phoenix Mills hoping something would show. Cafe Zoe was out, Hard Rock Cafe was considered but was too out of the way.

We thought of going to Rajdhani but their menu for today had too much palak & methi.

So we arrived at Ice Cream Works, as the name suggests & having been to the Chowpatty branch i like most people assumed all they do is ice-cream. However they also do proper food, I would have to thank lil Roxanne Bamboat for turning me on to this with her post.

The menu while not too expansive has plenty to keep one interested. It includes onion rings, french fries served in innovative ways, sandwiches, pasta and a bunch of pizzas. Pretty straight forward food, which is also easy to screw up.

The first thing we went for was the chilli cheese toast which is actually served like a tartine. Very nice, with pickled peppers and beet on the side, it was delicious. I would however like to complain about serving chips with the sandwich. That is such a kids birthday part a la 1988. French fries would go nicely, or ditch the side and give us a bigger portion.

The other thing we got was the margarita pizza with mozzarella. Very nice, the crust was thin as can be (popularized by Indigo Deli) it could have done with a little more fresh mozzarella, why skimp out ?

This was the chocolate something, i cannot recall the name ( so many choices, it was all a blur) but it was chocolate ice-cream, a chocolate brownie, with chocolate sauce, chocolate cereal. What can i say but hell yeah.

Besides, the scores of Sundae's they have a score of ice -cream by the scoop as well as yoghurt and make your own cheesecake. In all honesty, it can be a little overwhelming especially on the first visit (taste the paan ice cream and also the strawberry cheesecake)

We picked up some to carry home, it was packed nicely with dry ice and did not melt much on the way back. We got Chocolate & Strawberry.

Overall, the food is good, the desserts great, they do need to fix a few things, the portions are a tad small, just a little more and it would be spot on. Potato chips with a sandwich is just not done so that needs to go.

A few weeks ago i happily entered Haagen Daazs and not only was i severely disappointed but i was actually ripped off (read more here) Had i known then, what i know now, i could have gone next door to Ice Cream works and pretty much had a great time.

I intend to return with a group of friends to try out the insane 8 scoop sundae or the 12 scoop fondue with accompaniments.

Food : 8/10
Service: 8/10
Damage : 900 + 450 for the take home ice cream.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Oye Kake

Rest : Oye Kakke
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Cawasji Patel Street, Walking distance from Horniman Circle

Quiet Sunday afternoon, we were scheduled to watch The Amazing Spider-Man but i just could not bring myself to doing it. Never been a fan of what Hollywood did with the character and its too early to re-boot the franchise.

In any case, i am quite an unabashed fan of dhaba/punjab style food, especially love Papa Pancho even though they have never gotten their act together service wise. Besides, since the wife hates Papa Pancho i try and score a dhaba meal when i can.

We parked up at Horniman Circle and walked around and stumbled onto Oye Kake, used to be Mathura before the change. Its small, loud and does not serve booze. They have some funny little pictures around as well as the requisite swords etc on the walls. Seating is extremely tight.

While i personally loved the steel plates and silverware, the fact that them plates slide around on glass tops is quite infuriating. I don't like chasing my food.

The menu is a large wooden/cardboard thing a la Papa Pancho, they have a thali option which is good if you arent with too many people. Otherwise they have a load of veggies and meals. A healthy menu.
The Chaas was effing brilliant, spicy, tangy and cold. Oh the goodness. Also made especially tastier, considering the lassis ordered all around the table were left untouched on account of being too sweet.

The Paneer Peshwari was recommended and it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Regret not stealing more from those around me.

The Kadai Vegetable was okay, no great shakes.

While they serve a boat load of bread options (except Roomalis) they also do a bread basket which contains one of each. Their Kulcha's are outstanding.

The Dal Makhani was nothing special, however the Rajma was outstanding, a must have with rice.

Overall, in all honesty, if you can get past the tight seating and the loud chatter, its not a bad place to do a quick meal. The food is not bad but its not quite great either. The menu is large and will take another try or two to figure out. A lassi that badly made is unforgivable and needs immediate attention.

The restaurant was full and their service was completely overwhelmed, things being forgotten, coming out way delayed, they could not handle all the action. So that is one area which needs to be seriously revamped.

Parking would be impossible on a week day lunch.

Food : 7/10
Service : 6/10
Damage: 950 (for 5)
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