Saturday, November 30, 2013

Salt Water Cafe Churchgate

Intesresting times in South Bombay vis a vis food, a lot of popular brands that set up shop in bandra are beginning to find their way to town. The first of the new entrants is Salt Water Cafe which i have reviewed a few times (here) the other joints that have crossed the bridge are Sancho's and more importantly one of my fav's Mamagoto.

SWC opened doors a few days ago and a bunch of people i know were raving about it at tastings. Couldn't make it for the launch but  made it much later and was chuffed to find that they offer a breakfast at breakfast hours, the only other crew to do that in the area is Indigo Deli although SWC has more items on the menu.

in any case, the whiskey sour was highly recommended by Nikhil Merchant (@nikhil_merchant) and boy did it shine. brilliant, not to sweet and really addictive.

the next thing i had to have a go at was the cheese plate. from memory there was cheddar, parmesan, brie , swiss, feta and some sort of sweet cranberry. a great way to start the evening this. 

the caprese was pretty good, the bitter leaves with the sweetish dressing on the side made this work nicely.

the minestrone style assorted veggie soup was also pretty decent. hearty with beans and bits of pasta etc which i enjoy. 

the tomato, olive with chilli and peppers in what seemed like angel hair was good and fiery but a tad too oily.

i had the porcini, tomato and mozzarella & spaghetti. pretty on the money and a decent portion too. enjoyable.

Didn't get a chance to get a picture of the Tiramisu but i must say that it was awesome and possibly the best in the city.

Overall, i like SWC and i think this one is a tad better than the Bandra outlet, especially when it comes to mains. A good addition overall.

Hope to get there for breakfast one of these days. A meal for two without drinks should be around 2k.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Masala Library

Rest : Masala Library
Meal : Dinner
Loc : BKC

Ever since Masala Library opened its doors a few weeks ago, i have been trying to tee up an evening there but thwarted each time by distance and fellow diners.

Finally this past week on a complete lark, we tried to get a table at Masala Library but were told they were booked solid and only could be seated at 1030 or try our luck as walk ins. So we booked us a table at 9pm at Ping Pong as a back up and showed up at Masala Library at 8.15 and had a table by 8.30

The place has a fairly standard, fine dine decor to it, nothing special but its certainly not bad. I found racks of empty wine bottles at the entrance to be quite weird. It's called Masala Library which speaks of a more traditional, studied place but the cuisine is much more nouevau as is the presentation. Perhaps replacing the rack of empty bottles with some books might be a better idea. 

That aside, the little bread they served at the start was delicious. Slightly sweet and a tad cheesy in its finish. these went quickly. 

The next thing we got was this diabolical papad platter, comprised of 5-6 different kids of pappad with 8 chutneys, its a papad lovers delight. 

the amuse bouche was a de constructed papdi chaat where the a dollop of yoghurt with chutney and sev sat at the bottom of a shot glass and the papdi was served on the side. Drink up and then bite into the papdi where the taste takes shape.a great idea and it hits the mark taste wise. only complaint being that the yoghurt can congeal on the bottom and needs prodding which is ultimately a non issue. 


the pesto kebab was our first starter, an interesting idea and while the kebab tasted pretty good, the taste of pesto was missing. I liked the kebab anyway though. 

our second starter was the gucchi with truffle oil. this was just stunning. a bunch of different things happening here and all of them good. it certainly didn't taste like anything i had before.  

while we waited for our main's they brought out these awesome vada pav's, again, playing with the ingredients here, adding cheddar etc, to give it a newer flavour, it was indeed delicious. 

the palate cleanser was next, frozen yoghurt with strawberry/rasberry. boy was this good. rabdiseque taste. 

the mains range from quirky to traditional, we went for the paneer lababdar which was pretty delicious, creamy but the taste of tomato had been dialled down. 

the gucchi naan was again morels, cheese and truffle oil. very heavy. 

the black daal was again, spot on, like a dal should be (i still think dal bukhara at ITC Kebabs n Kurries is the greatest) 

also had the sweetish sheermal which is a bread one does not see often. in fact the last time i had a go at one was a few years ago at Shalimar on Kemps Corner when they had some festival going on. 

we had two splendid desserts, the thandai creme brulee and the ghevar cheesecae. Both ideas are quite out there, they work well and make for an interesting take, however they are very different from the original underlying desserts as well. 

we ended the meal with paan flavoured candy floss. 

Masala Library certainly is a twist in the tale for Indian cuisine, nowhere near as radical as Vinit Bhatia's Zia (which has been hit & miss) the experimentation with ingredients and serving works well espcially because it has been limited to appetizers and desserts. The main's for the most part are traditionally executed.

The food, the concept and the flavours are well imagined and executed and it would be interesting to see what older diners make of it.

The service is fairly quick but i think a couple of things need to be ironed out, such as the empty bottles, the answer to the question where is the library and also, that the chef's need to have their amuse bouche ready to go. We were a table of six but were given only five of the vada pav's and the chef didnt have an extra. We shared our portions quite grudgingly.

Overall, i'm impressed. i hope they start doing a 8-10 course tasting menu because there is plenty here i would like to try.

Food : 9/10
Service : 7/10
Damage : 8500 for 6 without drinks.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ping Pong

Rest : Ping Pong
Meal : Dinner
Loc : Bandra Kurla Complex 

I have been to Ping Pong's Marlborough Street location quite a few times, my first visit is mentioned here so i was quite excited when they were opening their doors here in Bombay. I heard mixed reviews originally and was unsure of how the concept was executed here. I was happy to accept their invitation and was happy to find that its a loverly, largish space which takes its design cues from its London counterpart. 

Ping Pong is strictly a dimsum restaurant with no main courses etc in the traditional Indo-Chinese sense. They offer you a ticket which you fill out, those having been to the East will find this as standard operating procedure

They have a section of nibbles and sauces, from where chose pickled carrots and radish. 

Steamed Edamame, very happy to see this here, i used to get a massive bowl in Wagamama and its nice to be able to get it here now. 

the crunchy golden was not on the menu but was a special of the day and it was all right. not bad but not great. 


they have a selection of dipping sauces, which i personally didn't enjoy very much. 

the lemonade comes with a shot of fruit puree, this was strawberry and it was pretty good, one can also get peach. 

the crispy asparagus was perfectly lovely, well done and crunchy, must get. 

 vegetable wonton with coriander and garlic sauce, was alright, light on garlic but tasty nonetheless.

The Spicy Vegetable Dumpling was pretty good, enjoyed it with some vinegar, good stuff.

The Noodle Bowl, was a lightly flavored, sweetish preparation with noodles, broccoli and beans. I liked this immensely, loved the flavours. 

The molten chocolate, was boring but actually pretty good. 

Overall, Ping Pong is an interesting concept for this city and will require diners to be willing to accept a changed approach to the way their food is served. The concept of courses goes out the door, the food comes in as it gets ready, which sounds stranger than it is.

Its primarily a Dim Sum restaurant and there is plenty of variety.  The rice bowl is the same as the noodle bowl flavour wise and they should add another noodle bowl or two, for variety's sake. Portions are individual sized and that allows one to order more variety and reorder fav's.

Price wise its relatively cheaper than say a Yauatcha but then the two appeal to two different segments. A meal for two without drinks would run 2500. Service is super quick, you would be hard pressed to spend more than an hour there. 

The word is they might be setting up in Colaba, which would be pretty good considering BKC is a trek at the best of times. 

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