Monday, January 21, 2013


Rest : Zaffran
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Todi Mills, Lower Parel

Todi Mills is fast becoming a hyper active restaurant destination, new places opening and some shutting down at regular intervals. The mill space reminds you of the early days of Phoenix, hap hazard, difficult to enter and exit, hopefully in a few years they can sort out the traffic management. 

Anyway, i have heard of Zaffran and known about their Crawford market location for a while, though never quite made it. They have set up a new outlet at Todi Mills, replacing the ill fated Zinc, a bar which never really opened its doors (Zenzi Mills nearby has shuttered as well, Cafe Zoe a few feet away thrives as does Blue Frog) 

Zaffran fortunately happens to be the first restaurant if you enter from Tulsi Pipe Road we were able to drop the car and enter through its massive wooden door in seconds. 

The space is tight but utilised well, tables to one side and not sure if these are meant to resemble gilded cages or Jharokha's, laid out in a semi-circle on the other, they can seat six comfortably. there is running water behind each one and dining with that sound is something else. we were seated in one and it felt serene and private, Mughalesque

The menu is a mix of Mughlai and Punjabi dishes, equal parts veg and non-veg with plenty to choose from for both. 

The lemon iced tea was delicious.

The starters were the Paneer Tikka, which was pretty good with a solid, spicy after taste, the paneer mushroom with cheddar, was too spicy and the cheese did not taste like cheddar at all. Their signature naanlets i totally loved. little naans with tomato, reminded me of the naan, garlic, olive oil and tomato combo served at Arola. The Aloo Chat, was interesting with the taste of North Indian style tamarind chutney but a tad too sweet. 

The Dum Subz was vegetables in a saffron gravy. very nice, pick of the lot, glad i went with the recommendation.

The mrs chose a butter naan, which i eyed for quite a while, she is not big on sharing but i knew i was going to get a few bites in considering the size. Excellent, didnt feel as heavy as i thought it would.

The Paneer Makhani was disappointing, i was hoping for something more in the Moti Mahal direction but this was more in the Shiv Sagar style, i have long contemplated not ordering paneer anymore and try out other dishes, doubly disappointed as they had some interesting curries..

The Roomali was not bad, not as awesome as the butter naan but pretty good. 

The Dal Makhani was fabulous, totally rocking and i found myself just eating the daal by itself. 

The Biryani was okay, it was served with a cold, garlic infused raita on the side, this coupled with the daal made the taste go beyond good. Best to order this while ordering main courses as it can take upto 20 odd mins to prepare. 

Overall, initially i was a bit sceptical about the place having a rep as a non-veggies haven but all things considered it was pretty impressive. The layout and ambiance is interesting and there is a touch of imagination to the menu as well. I only find the location to be distressing as getting in and out of Todi on a busy day can be painful.

The service is quick and friendly.

The pricing is surprisingly on the reasonable side and considering the portions which are impossibly huge and can easily suffice a table for four its good value for money. They have a liquor license and reasonable bar menu and Zaffran is now my number one choice to take over seas guests, replacing Khyber.

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 2200 for two with no drinks

Friday, January 18, 2013

San Churro

San Churro is a little choclateria that's opened in Bandra and at Mahalaxmi. Tried to go there a few times but each time our plans fell through. Finally we got there with a few friends of ours.  

Churros are a fried pastry, usually served as elongated strips, though predominantly known as a Spanish idea, Churros are known across Latin America and parts of Europe. They are served with sprinkled sugar, or milk or with chocolate sauce, honey etc. Frankly, the ladies at our table loved it, i personally have never been a huge fan and beyond a bite or two did not indulge.

I got myself an affogato which was basically vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso. Okay, no great shakes. 

This might be the choco loco, not bad but it had a peculiar after taste, which i did not particularly enjoy. There was also the spanish style hot chocolate, which too was okay, except for the after taste. 

The ice cream sundae, decent, not as large as it looked, was demolished quickly. 

While i like desserts and chocolate as much as the next guy, i was not overtly impressed with San Churro, although the girls loved it and going by the packed house, i might be the only person around who found it underwhelming.

Service was quick, friendly but absent minded, they brought out wrong orders twice but it was okay i suppose. 

Food : 6/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 1500 

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Rest : Trattoria
Meal : Lunch
Loc : Vivanta by Taj, Cuffe Parade

Trattoria along with China Garden is a part of growing up in this part of town. All through the years its been one of the stops for post mid night hunger pangs or when one has a hankering for comfort foods. I've seen them go through two renovations and they just reopened after a third. 

I didnt get a lot of time with the menu as i was dining my friend and his wife.. like all good husbands we let our wives dictate terms. Whatever i did see was  few more soups and appetizers on the menu, so there has been some tweaking. 

The place looks different but the noise is still the same, Trats has been a fish market ever since i can remember. Although i dont think i have ever been there for lunch, so it was pleasant to be seated by the windows with sun light streaming in. 

The garlic bread was spot on and unfortunately it only flattered the meal that was to come. 

The Asparagus on goat cheese was a major disappointment, the asparagus tasted of nothing, the onions were sweetish and the only thing adding taste. The goat cheese was disturbing, cold, hard and chewy at least a week old.

The gnocchi too was just below average, like someone just three together a few things and couldn't be bothered to do more.

The Lasagna which i consider to be on par with their pizza and is usually served well baked and leaning slightly towards a gravy was, this time around it was just too runny and more like a thick soup than a lasagna.

The Fiamma was good, no complaints. 

Found the Tiramisu to be fairly disappointing especially as only a few days ago i had a kick ass one at Pizza Metro Pizza in Bandra.

Overall, the makeover is okay but it has certainly not made the ambiance any better. Also, the food was below average and possibly lazily put together which is highly disappointing. This past month has seen a great many new pizzerias open up, some good and some horrible, my experience at Trattoria slots them somewhere in the bottom half, which is disappointing.

I have always considered The President to have the best restaurants and now Trattoria is firmly the weakest of their three. So if they want to remain a mainstay they need to get their act together.

The service was deferential but cold, when asked what we thought, we told them how bad the cheese was but they just smiled and said okay.

I really hope this isn't a trend.

Food : 6/10
Service : 6/10
Damage: 4500 for four.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Simply Potatoes

I end up in Phoenix Mills quite often as its a great place to park and have a meeting. Walking around you can also see the place change every week. One of the new kiosks they have is for a baked potato vendor. I am a big jacket potato fan, spent a lot of time chowing on em in London and Arbys back in the US was a fav too. 

While this local joint does not offer too many choices, no baked beans etc they do have an offer of cole slaw and a Mexican version as well as one with Curry.

Chose the Mexican version which was actually not bad, tasty, a tad spicy and quick too. Not a bad way to spend 99 rupees, i do expect that price to go up soon though.

they also do a skewer of potato slices which taste like banana chips. avoid. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Pizza Metro Pizza - A Tale of Two Pizzerias (not really)

Rest : Pizza Metro Pizza 
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Khar/Bandra, 5 mins from Olive

"It was the best of times and it was the worst of times " so go arguably the greatest lines of any book. My experience of the last few days has been much the same when it comes to dining out, which i have been practically every day to the point that i know actually look forward to eating at home.

In the last two months Bombay has seen a new Italian joints/Pizzerias open up, not sure why that is but of last count there was Di Napoli, Serafina and if you look a little further back there is Francesco's and this is besides the revamping of Pizza By the Bay and Trattoria (where i was this past week) and also Pizza Express (where i am headed tomorrow)  Also, after this, for a very long time, there will be no more pizza because i swear i am freaking sick of it..

Pizza Metro Pizza interestingly is an English chain like Pizza Express albeit much smaller in size. The restaurant has a very Italy via London bistro feel to it but its pretty casual. interestingly enough, once you enter you dont feel like you are in Bandra any more, which i guess cannot be a bad thing.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the wood fired Pizza oven, once a rarity its now almost du jour for a gourmet pizza eatery. 

The Palle De Riso, crispy rice stuffed vegetable balls, peas and mozzarella. These were surprisingly bland, even with the chilly oil but serves me right for choosing something stuffed with rice. 

The bruschetta was cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic served on a rather large slice of bread. Good, the taste was fresh, the presentation different, wouldn't mind a larger portion.

Our first main was the Taglioni Bombay for 2, very few restaurants do a little show by the table (and no, the sizzling brownie does NOT count) so it was fun to watch them flambe the pasta in a huge parmesan wheel. The Taglioni is a long ribbon shaped pasta and made in the restaurant itself.

The dish is pretty good and must be eaten before it gets cold, the taste is pretty good, the cognac gives it a very interesting bite. 

The Spaghetti Pomodoro too was fresh and tasted pretty good, however it missed that little kick, perhaps a smidgen more garlic and it would have been something else, it did taste like a fairly home made dish (an Italian home, not a Gujju maharaj home)

The pizza was Portobello mushrooms, truffle oil, rocket and grana padano, thin and crispy and totally kick ass. You could taste the truffle oil and it was just all kinds of awesome.

Tiramisu was pretty good, a tad sweetish the little biscuit atop was quite bitter but on the whole a pretty killer version. 

This was a baked cheesecake style dessert, i cannot recall the name but this too was done home style, simple, a little sweet but decent, not as good as the Tiramisu however.

Overall PMP is a brave endeavor, the focus seems to be on offering an authentic experience, they are importing a great deal of ingredients except for the cheese, which i am told comes from Delhi. The chefs are Italian as are the chaps making the pizza, there is no ketchup, mustard or tabasco on offer and neither is there chicken or paneer on pizza. I really do hope they can keep that up because the city does need a few more places like that.

This authenticity does come at a price however, the place is not cheap (Taglioni for 2 is 1900, the Spaghetti Pomodoro 850, The Pizza 950) the prices are near five star and while it is pretty good, a little more focus and they could elevate themselves to great.

The portions are decent and if you go over with a bunch of friends and get the meter pizzas, it wouldn't pinch as much.

Food : 8/10
Service : 8/10
Damage : 4500 for two without drinks. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Pizza Express - Disaster

Rest : Pizza Express
Meal : New Years Lunch
Loc : Off Regal, near Gateway of India, Colaba 

Mrs Jain & I, have a new years tradition, we usually go to Thai Pavilion for our new years lunch because not only is the food great, its freakishly consistent and i call it the best restaurant in the city if not the country.

However this year, i let Mrs Jain break away and we ended up at Pizza Express, this alone should have set alarm bells ringing. Like a gambler, once you place your bet, you NEVER move your chips because that is the sign of doom but then again, i dont gamble. 

Pizza Express has nearly 450 restaurants across the UK, Europe & the ME, which means more or less that they know what they are doing, or rather should know what they are doing. The menu is largish with a bunch of different pizzas, some pasta and appetizers. 

The ambiance is okay, industrial, exposed piping which has been done to death even in India. The kitchen sits in the middle which is kind of awkward and unfortunately, their exhaust system does not work nearly as well as it should. My eye were stinging a third of the way through the meal and it was pretty irritating. 

The first thing we got were the stuffed mushrooms, i remember having these before at San Marzano which was Pizza Express's earlier avatar at Churchgate. I also remember the dish being pretty good, this one however was under seasoned and under salted, no great shakes despite adding salt either. 

The dough balls, apparently based on a secret recipe, were quite ordinary and definitely  not an appetizer. Also, the mushrooms came with a bunch of dough balls, so we ended up with a portion and a half of something not quite so good. I wish they let you know on the menu what other dishes comes with dough balls so one does not go around ordering them, i could have gotten some garlic bread with mozzarella instead. 

The Canneloni, was okayish, it had a funky after taste and  i dont mean funky bad but just funky weird. The tomato sauce too felt like it was just warm sauce with no seasoning or taste, puree like almost.

The funghi di bosco was mushrooms, garlic and parsley and not much taste. thin and crispy, quick to eat but honestly it could have done with some taste to it. There really was not much going on here. 

The pizza was burnt on the edges, something i dont mind personally but mrs Jain dislikes immensely. Funnily enough, although the pizza was burnt, it was served completely cold. 

My Bruschetta con funghi was possibly one of the worst plated dish i have ever seen, didn't feel like eating it, the taste too was not that impressive, the bread they use tastes too much lik pav. Besides, this too was served cold and showed up only after our mains were finished, a dish nearly 50 minutes in the making.. not worth it in case you were wondering.

The side salad was rocket leaves with a balsamic drizzle and emil grana, the leaves were bitter and the drizzle and most of the cheese was hidden below the leaves, so all you essentially got was a mouth full of bitterness. 

The Chocolate Fudge Glory is quite inglorious, or rather it was a bit of a cock up. Should come with chocolate sauce but they couldnt find it apparently and ended up putting in caramel instead. weird thing is, mrs jain said both the desserts were sitting on a serving table for 15 mins and she was wondering which unlucky table was going to get them. Turns out we were the lucky ones.

Also, i am not a fan of substitutions to dishes without permission, beyond the fact that is is supremely annoying, it could be a hazard if someone is allergic to a particular item.

The Gelato was supposed to be chocolate and strawberry, turned out to be vanilla and chocolate, which i actually hate. the waiter insisted on taking it back but i had had enough of it. I took a spoon full of the mostly melted chocolate and it tasted too much of whatever liqueur they had used and we decided that was the end of it and walked out. 

Overall, the food was badly executed and carelessly presented. The recipes seem completely out of whack with every dish under seasoned, under salted, or just plain tomato sauce. Not a single thing stood out as remotely appetizing.

 The service was even worse, slow, dim witted, clue less and completely disorganized. We ordered our mains with the appetizers and still had to wait 40 odd minutes for them and one of the appetizers showed up 15 minutes after the appetizer. We could see food just lying on serving tables for minutes on end but no one could come pick em up. Our servers kept constantly changing and we must have dealt with five different people, so they are certainly not under staffed as they claimed. 

The table behind us was getting upset enough to get talk about throwing their glasses to get attention, i for one dont subscribe to that kind of behavior but they were truly driven to it with three little children it must have been exasperating to wait for food. 

The service is certainly a training issue, i dont think the team has been trained well at all and its unfair to have them face the brunt of angry patrons. A floor manager is a must, especially on a holiday like today when there are bound to be crowds. The only way to fix this place truly, is to shut down for a few days, re look at their recipes, figure out whats wrong and seriously, hyper train their people.

This is truly a management cock up and they really need to get their act together very quickly if they intend to survive in that area. I used to think Indigo Deli across the street was bad or slow service but damn they are positively electric geniuses in comparison. 

I have had a good run of excellent meals of late, so perhaps this had to happen sometime. I just hope this is not a sign for the coming year.

Food : 3/10
Service : 3/10
Damage : 3000 without drinks.  

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