Monday, December 31, 2012

Lager Bay

Rest : Lager Bay
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Waterfeld Road, Bandra West.

Lager Bay replaced the immensely popular Zenzi a little while ago and i finally got the opportunity to check them out. I have fond memories of Zenzi, good food and one particularly debauched night out had begun here but we shall not go into details about that as this is a kid friendly blog. 


The place sounds like a real Burgers and Beer joint but is actually quite a generic multi cuisine menu which leans on the Italian for its mains.  


 The hummus was creamy, delicious and we immediately ordered another portion as the first one did not last very long. the toasty pita chips they were served with i am not a fan of. they should serve both the soft and hard pita because like creamy or crunchy, pulpy or pulp free, there are camps and people pick sides.


The Minestrone is one of those soups which has been utterly destroyed by people not doing it correctly here. I have had the bland tasteless version at Botticino where the chef refused to admit the problem and the over done heavy handed gujju styled version at my club. this was one was a cut above but still not the best. i guess it wasn't bad which makes it good. 


The Nachos came out cold, which was a shock, we told the server that and he was flustered and tried to ask us to go along by saying that the sauce was added later.. in any case it was sent back. They were good enough to actually make a new one 



The aglio olio was quite a hit with the table, unfortunately i only got the last few scraps and by then all that was left were garlic and pepper and some spaghetti. i found it a tad too spicy but everyone loved it.


The stroganoff was weak, all cream and veggies no taste. unfortunate. I had some decent stroganoff at Irish House, Gaylord but this does not compare at all. 


One thing restaurants need to get clear is what their menu promises and what they deliver. if it says tomato and penne i assume its anything but an arrabiata. However even as an arrabiata this failed, it was like something i would have cooked which is not saying much at all.


The veggie burger was pretty terrific. A nice big patty with sesame bun. The relish and stuff were not very good but the burger itself was quite decent. very unwieldy to eat but then i never met a burger which wasn't.

Overall, i like the decor, the main entrance section has changed greatly from Zenzi, its very casual and brightly lit, the rest of the space has not changed much. The vibe is casual and the place can get loud. The food is okay, too many hits and misses and they do have some quality control they need to work on.

The service is quick and more or less friendly if a little scatter brained. The booze is expensive, the food not so much.

Food : 7/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 8500 for 6 with drinks.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dum Pukth - Blow Out Meal

Rest : Dum Pukht
Meal : Dinner
Loc : ITC Grand Maratha, near the International Airport.


It has been a while since my last visit to Dum Pukth, nearly four or five years, i remember that Mrs and I going there a reasonably newly wed couple(post here) So to give you quick run down, the cuisine is all about slow cooking of the dishes in their own juices and is said to have originated in Awadh during a famine.

What we have here is of course the refined version which was developed for the Royal Palate and the dishes are heavy, creamy and full of dry fruits and other such ingredients that the cuisine requires. 


On my last visit i mentioned how the decor didn't quite work but to be honest i had plenty of time to sit around and have a look this time. The place is actually very different from many of the kitted out places one goes to. The decor actually does work and not only that i got seated on a couch and man, that really is the way to dine. Couches, not chairs is the way to go.


The glasses too for water and wine were intricate, weighty and one can really get into character as some sort of a mughal/awadhi despot. However they used white china/plates to serve the food on which is unlike a royal dining experience and that really did stick out as a sore point. Like the glasses some well designed plates would really go better with the whole experience.

Their wine selection is actually pretty decent, i always thought thar Rieslings go well with Indian food, i chose a Kabinett (700) and it was pretty good but a tad gassy which was a first. Not bad however.

                     

The first thing we ordered was the Qasr E Pukhtan (1500) which was a paneer gravy with spices. I really do feel foolish having ordered something so cliched and was justifiably punished when it turned out to be strictly an okay dish.

The Paneer itself was a little too hard (perhaps refrigerated) and when i brought this to their notice all hell broke loose. I had to explain this to four people and they were sincerely apologetic and took this almost personally.

As we refused to send the dish back they let us have it but insisted on a replacement  (more on that later)


This was the Rogani Roti (175) soft, intricate and flavourful all on its own, this was quite a piece of bread. the last time i had something so delicious was a Sheermal at the Shalimar. 


The Mash Qaliya or the black dal (700) was very good, not as intense as the Dal Bukhara which is served very well by Kebabs n Kurries at ITC Grand Central and rather badly by Peshawri next door to Dum Pukth. but still very much on the money.


The Aloo Dum Bukhara (1900) was a heavy kofta in a rich gravy, very good, breaking into the kofta was quite difficult as its stuffing clung on but it was quite a different taste to the regular gravies one gets. The staff brought this out to make up for the Paneer and they did pick a good dish. Its important to order away from ones comfort zone at times 


The roomali was interesting, unlike the whitey white roomalis you get everywhere which i guess has to do with the flour, these were more like a roti in look and texture. While i really liked the way they tasted, one wonders if the generic roomalis are more likely to please a despot.



The Dum Pukth Biryani which is pretty much a signature dish was excellent, they also offer a mushroom version which the mrs shot down outright. This was delicious and one of the reasons we skipped the starters and shorba to make sure we had space for it. 


The garlic infused raita was served as an accompaniment to the biryani and i must say, you take the dal, the raita and the biryani and you have a pretty strong combination right there, they make an amazing team. 


Kulfi is hard to do correctly and the longer it freezes the worse it gets. this though wasn't too bad, I am not a fan of Indian desserts but this certainly was not bad.


the meal is topped off with a helping of mouth freshness as well as paan in a nicely inlaid pan dabbi, reminds me of the ones my grandmom used to use when she still used to make her own paan.

Overall, the place is pretty good, the decor and ambiance does work with the cuisine and the motif, the food is good, the dishes are heavy and one cannot eat a meal like this often however that is a hallmark of the cuisine.

The service is epic and i dont use that word often. The one off kink in my case was immediately rectified by the team and there was genuine concern at my complaint. That just goes to show the amount of training and effort that goes into running a world class outfit and stand alone restaurants will never be able to compete with five stars in the service stakes.

The dishes the food is served are quite counter intuitive and plain, need to work on those, perhaps pick something which has a little more intricacy to it, to fit with the experience. The prices of course are unbelievable but befitting the royal motif.

They apparently serve a sunday brunch with serves one/two dishes from each course and is priced at 2300 with wine which offers good value if you are open to others selecting your dishes for you (that did not work well for me at Kebabs n Kurries the last time i was there but if you call ahead and find out whats on the menu it could very well be worth it)

Food : 8/10
Service : 9/10
Damage:  Dinner for two with a glass of wine 6000



Monday, December 24, 2012

Cafe Basilico on a Sunday Afternoon

Rest : Cafe Basilico
Meal : Sunday Lunch
Loc : Bandra West

I have always been a big of Cafe Basilico and oddly i find myself at the one in Bandra quite often, cannot remember the last time i had gone out to the one in Colaba which is at best a poor cousin (though it came first) 

So on a pretty relaxed Sunday afternoon the five of us found ourselves seated in their out doors section poring over the menu. Also on hand was a waiter who rather irritatingly punctuated every sentence with a 'yeah okay' 

although my luck has been terrible when it comes to mushroom soups, a good mushroom soup is all about delicate balance. I decided to live dangerously and was finally rewarded with a decent bowl, a few chunks of mushroom would have been welcome. 


nice little glass of lemon iced tea. 

the bruschetta was brilliant, fresh, olive oily with bits of cheese,immensely enjoyable. 




The mezze platter was not bad, not a fan of the presentation which just confuses, however all the items were good and the flavours great. 



the pita/lavash they served with it was inadequate, just regular pita is fine, no need to grill and experiment so much.

the pizza was hilarious, yep, hilarious. it tasted pretty good, but every one was expecting a pie and out comes a slice and jaws dropped. i think they should mention its a huge slice which is fine for one or two but when you order one with 5 diners on the table. its leads to every man for himself.



the mushroom and spinach risotto was no good. it used to be very different, their regular mushroom risotto was sublime, this was just plain bad.



The Tagine was served in a little earthen pot, which i guess has to do when in a pinch, however it was more of a tomato broth then a tagine, some more veggies and less liquid would have been much better. 


the tagine was served with a side of cous cous which was pretty ordinary 




the pumpkin ravioli tasted way way better than i thought it would, creamy, heavy with just a hint of pumpkin.


the dessert selection at Basilico is vast and being caught out by a NY, Philly & Strawberry cheesecake, we decided to bypass and go for a Tiramisu which was very good

and a gooey chocolate cake which was ordinary. 

Overall, the food was pretty good, a few misses but otherwise okay. Basilico continues to be popular because the space is relaxed and consistent. The service was scatter brained and slowish.

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 6000 for 5. 




Friday, December 21, 2012

Guru Da Dhaba

Rest : Guru Da Dhaba
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Lokhandwala Market, Andheri West.

Once in a while i end up in Andheri for a bite, it might happen a lot more over the next few months as i finish post production on the Return of Ashoka. My friend Shailesh and i had discussed Guru a few times, since we are both huge fans of Crystal it was only natural to want to check this place out. Took a few months but we eventually made it there. 


Guru is located in the middle of the market the signage hidden under the canopy and a tree i believe. the place is smallish with seating for about 30 odd if done four to a table. I expected the place to be packed but around 7.30 in the evening it was pretty relaxed.


one of the things i had found most exciting about Guru was their extensive menu, however this is possibly their downfall.

they served a very cold and spicy chaas (buttermilk) which we didn't mind however I can see some people not being able to handle the spiciness.


We got the Mutter Paneer & because we couldn't agree on the other veggie we compromised on the mutter kofta. Both unfortunately tasted the same and not because of the peas. Also, they were quite runny, hate that in a veggie.


The chappati were okay, the makai (corn) di roti was awesome. they also serve other parathas and rotis.

Though they served a bunch of daals, we got the rajma chawal whcih was again runny and with not enough rajma. Spicy too.

Overall, the food promises much but delivers little, everything is overly spiced and their rajma is quite a disgrace. Perhaps one has to find the dishes they do well because somehow i still think that there might be something worth having here. Compared to Crystal though, these guys are far far behind.

The service was okay. The ambiance non-existent. The pricing is fairly low.

Food : 6/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 300

Monday, December 17, 2012

Arola with Chef Sergi Arola

So every once in a while, the sun shines on me, JW Marriott has brought Arola Restaurant & Bar to life by converting a corner of their hotel into a pretty snazzy eatery. The lights are dim, the space comfortable and the bar stools impossibly high.

The concept is of Spanish/Tapas style individual dishes to be shared by the table, more appetizers then courses, mostly Catalan/Spanish but not strictly limited to the area. The Marriott already had 3 restaurants, a humongous coffee shop, a bar and a night club. To add a relatively risky proposition  like this is laudable. Pity they are in Juhu.


I had the opportunity to dine with Sergi Arola himself and its not everyday that one gets to hang with a Michelin Star chef (although its my fourth 'star' meal and second time 
hanging with a star chef in the last twelve months)  the man speaks his mind and is passionate about his food.

Not to judge a book by its cover but Sergi has a vibe that is more of a rock n roll biker than two star Michelin chef.  Even more interestingly the man has trained and worked with both Ferran Adria & Pierre Gagnaire which is the equivalent of being mates with Superman & Batman.  



While I waited for the rest to troop in i sipped on a delicious Sangria and noshed on even more awesome olives.

In no time at all the party had accumulated, my fellow diners were a fun food and booze loving bunch.  @CulinaryMuse1 @nikhil_merchant @MissShwe @Manvi22 @romibites, @shweta_m89.


Interestingly enough, one of the first things brought out was a bunch of Naan's served with salsa, salt, olive oil and cloves of garlic & no instructions of what to do. Sergi mischievously kept deflecting when asked how to go about it.


There really is only one way, you rub the oil, then the garlic, sprinkle some salt and then salsa on to taste. Frankly, i couldn't stop, i just kept going after them Naan's. Its a great way of being faithful to the concept yet incorporating local dishes/ideas/produce.


The salad was tomato, onion, olives with olive oil, the dish was all about freshness, frozen ingredients and it would die pretty quickly.


The eggplant carpaccio was okay, a little bland but not bad overall.  


The Patata Bravas were deranged, sauce and cheese and potato.. bite sized little babies would do all kinds of wonderful things when popped into your mouth. Impossible to stop at one.



The desserts again were okay, the lemon sorbet was uneven and much too hard, the chocolate looking thing was actually possibly tamarind based which was weirdly good an the chocolate soufflĂ© thingy was on the money. 

Overall, the place has a very nice ambiance, the drinks are great, especially their Gin bar and the decadent gin and tonic served in a huge goblet with a burnt orange peel. That thing will shake the sadness out of you. The food is interesting, I didn't get a chance to look at their regular menu but from what we were served the dishes are middle of th road.  The flavour profile is relatively weaker and I think the Indian palate will struggle and find them bland.  On the one hand i think Indians need to up their game and accept newer flavours like they have for Teppan and Sushi but from the restaurant point of view, some dishes might need a tweak as well.

Without a doubt it is worth a look. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Yauatcha

Rest : Yauatcha
Loc : Raheja Chambers,BKC
 Meal : Lunch

After a few false starts we were finally able to make it to Yauatcha, although originally we had a table at Otto Infinito we ended upstairs and for once it was not a let down. Sundance last week was good as was Yauatcha, perhaps my luck is finally turning.


Chinese tea houses are a rarity in these parts, Yautcha opened doors a few months ago, they are the cousins of London's Michelin starred Hakkasan who also have a restaurant in Bombay. Spread across a massive floor, complete with a long bar, Yautcha is a lot more than a simple tea house. Since i am not a Chinese tea person i skipped the whole thing all together and went on to the food. 


The table service is a little weak, the chilli oil is great as is the little ginger sauce thingy, the pickled cucumber and carrots need to be sorted out, four pieces on a table of four is a little cheap... get a bigger bowl, especially since the wait for food can be a little long.


The Kiwi and something ice tea didn't look right but tasted pretty great.



Nice to see people carry Ginger Ale now, so sick of drinking Diet Coke.



The Hot & Sour soup with mushroom was not bad, good to taste, well done but it lacked a punch


The Asparagus roll tasted like a vietnamese spring roll, from the freshness standpoint. Not bad at all.


The three style mushroom cheung fun was pretty average, fell apart almost right away.




The Golden Fried Veg Puff was fantastic, all dim sum should be this good.


The Schezuan clay pot with vegetables and tofu was again not bad but lacked that strong finish, especially for a dish expected to be spicy.


The spicy vegetable fried rice was under salted and not spicy at all.



They serve flat noodles but we chose the vermicelli and it was a good choice, the noodles were excellent. No idea why they were served with tomato though. Weird.


I honestly was not expecting much from the jasmine tea cake but boy was i wrong. the base was a little too hard which made it difficult to eat but with just a hint of jasmine this was quite something.



The jaffa cake, tasted just like a jaffa cake, they got the essence just right, perfect. 

Overall, the food is not bad, a little more attention and it could be pretty great, they just need to ensure everything comes together. The food has i believe a Cantonese bent and unlike most Ch-Indian restaurants, the meal is relatively healthy and the desserts are pretty amazing.

The service needs a little work, the staff is happy to help but they get flustered easy and the food turn around was slow. While i put that down to the food being prepared as the orders come in.. i think they need  better table service to get things by.

Also, I wish they would serve even number servings of appetizers, odd numbers cause fights.The drinks menu was crazy, 700 odd bucks for a cocktail (ketel one) and 200 bucks for a ginger ale is steep. The prices on the food on the other hand was not so bad.

Food : 8/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 7000 for 4 without drinks.
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