Review: CAFÉ NEMO

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Multi-cuisine

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What’s in a name? Plenty! Coz when you go looking for this 3 month old Worli café you do do feel a bit like Nemo. For the uninformed,  Captain Nemo was the seafaring adventurer in Author Jules Vernes book and the décor and the eclectic, adventurous menu reflect that.

 

DÉCOR

You do begin to feel like an adventurer as there are no sign boards as you walk over Worli village’s uneven ground, past mangy dogs and shantys to get to the canary yellow bungalow.

Black and white furniture, a few chalk drawings a wall of hooks, mysteriously speared with  feathers  attract attention. We opted to sit in one of the two dining rooms (theres a bar area too)In the neigbouring room there was a table of lively and vivacious diners who were celebrating their friend  Vikrant Chheda’s
birthday and many of them had travelled from far and were very happy to be here.

 

FOOD

The menu, which is as eclectic as Nemo’s adventures and zig zags to Asia, Europe, Russia, and South America. It  is nonconformist and quite unlike that of Jam Jar Diner and Bonobo (same owners).

The superhits are the perfectly cooked hot truffled shrimp, the robust loaded guacamole bean dip and the intense dark chocolate pot de creme .Flavorsome ribolita soup, steamed fluffy  bao with penang chicken is tasty as is the  char sui pork bao. Okayish Seoul bowl (beef, rice, vegetables) and  goat cheese pizza.

MINUS POINTS

Noisy. Very noisy when packed. Overcooked dry bekti, hard profiteroles, lacklustre  rice cake with pineapple sauce. Some patchy dishes too.

MY POINT

Open through the day, it is a charming, three roomed café in the midst of the cluttered Worli village. A well stocked bar, casual vibe and an eclectic menu that delivers adventure. Nemo Ahoy!

 

Café Nemo, 329/A, Thadani House, opposite the Indian Coast Guard, Worli , Ph  24379841

Open through the day.

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

NEW YORK NEWS

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Magic begins to happen when you land in this adrenalin fuelled aggressive city. Not only do I trip out in the latest musical “Aladdin” but also end up with many a magic genie. Like the vegetarian gourmet Shom Hinduja (a brilliant student completing masters in Columbia, is a serious cook, plays drums and discovers restaurants). Within 2 hours of landing, he blows my mind with the vegetarian specials in the most revered Japanese restaurant “Bar Masa”. Pure vegetarian Korean “Hungawi”, the cheap and cheerful “Han Dynasty” follow. Michelin starred “Eleven Madison Park” “Daniel” “Blue hill at Stone farm” serve fab veggie options. Budget friendly Totto Ramen, pizzerias (Rubi Rossa with heart shaped pizzas) come next. It’s Chef Ashfer Biju’s ( Two E at The iconic Pierre) outstanding vegetarian masterpieces of flavor and texture that thrill. I eat with a girlfriend at the hottest happening restaurant “Brooklyn Fare” (an 18 seater, no photos, no phones allowed) Japanese inspired mindblowing menu.

P.S. On my very last NYC night I have three dinners (at Uruguay Chef Ignacio’s Estela where Obama just went for his date night) wine at Corkbuzz with the charming editor of “Food and Wine” and then “Harry Cipriani” for gluten free pasta with pesto where Musical maestros Ayaan Ali Khan, Amaan Ali khan and Satya Hinduja share their favorite NYC restaurants. The discerning foodies, the Khan brothers are here on a 7 city tour with their father Amjad Ali Khan .

Want to know their non veggie recommendations ? email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: BRICKHOUSE CAFÉ AND BAR

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European and Continental

 

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One more brand new restobar (this time in Andheri), four fabulous foodie blind dates (who I met over instagam) add upto a fun-afternoon as we review Brickhouse cafe. The first to arrive is the lovely @rinichatterjee new girl in the city, who works for a luxury lifestyle management company.

@ila_ismail a physiotherapist also blogs about travel, fashion&lifestyle,

@raisinghanirashmi a celebrity manager is a passionate homechef and

@truptimarolia  has recently quit a job to pursue her dream of opening a cupcake bakery from home. Our review follows.

 

DÉCOR

We all give a thumbsup to the exposed brickwalls  rustic doors, wooden tables, industrial, unfinished work-in-progress look. Alfresco area too.

FOOD

While the bar dabbles in Molecular cocktails (candyfloss, Dutch Kettle) the food is a decent Mediteranean mix and match fare of yum hummus, a surprisingly light risotto with spinach. Even the Fusili ala diavolo is al dente with perfectly cooked prawns.

Philly steak sandwich is just about okay, the Mushrooms soft moist. While the 4 Brick pizza (pineapple spinach mushrooms) is passable. Belgian chocolate Molten lava cake  worth trying.

 

MINUS POINTS

Undercooked  chicken, an Epic burger (supposedly  Anguswith Jack daniel Barbecue sauce) is an epic underperformer with a laclustre patty and soggy buns. Shrimp Turds (why would anyone name a dish like that?) with bacon wrapped prawns is avoidable. Ditto for the cheesecake.

MY POINT

Open through the day, Brickhouse café has a young, cheery, casual vibe. It offers comfort pizza pasta sandwich kind of food at comforting prices ( Rs 1500 av meal for 2).If in the vicinity it is the perfect place to lounge about and linger than go for a serious meal.

P.S. Our blind-date adventure continued as we popped into the brand new Boston Cupcakery next door. Tasted all the cupcakes, the unique cupcake shakes, the Ganache, chocolate symphony and Red velvet shake come out tops.

 

Brickhouse Café

Greenfield Apartments
Lokhandwala Market, Opposite the HDFC ATM Lokhandwala Complex Andheri (West)

022 26364403

Brickhouse All Day Cafe & Bar Andheri Daily, from noon to 1.30am

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

FROM DUBAI…BREAKING NEWS : YOU ARE NEEDED

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I write from Dubai and Im not only going to share some exciting news but also make a plea to you for you to share your inputs. Your tips on vegetarian restaurants in Paris made our book “A vegetarian in Paris” (published by the Times of India) comprehensive and also the worlds first. Now once again, The Times of India is all set to pioneer the definitive vegetarian guide to Dubai.

Guiding me skilfully through Dubai (and also through this fabulous Le Petit Maison restaurant, it has Indian owners I am informed) are two true-blue, well-traveled  Dubai based foodies who spearhead the dynamic Dubai Tourism offices and are it’s spokespersons. Hoor Mohammad Noor Al Khaja having worked in a high-profile government role in the Prime Minister’s Office holds a degree in Business Administration.

Mohamed Essa Alshaikh – double majored in Finance and has a bachelor’s degree in General Business and Administration. We  trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata here. Just this morning I had the most fabulous breakfast of an astounding array of  home made Lebanese cheeses, rare honeys, Egyptian omlette and waffles as lollipops in Nine 7 one.  Also dazzling   in the world class Oberoi is the Cutting edge Japanese Asian and an equally promising Indian restaurant.

Last night, along with the legendary Media baron Russy Blitz Karanjia’s daughter Rita Mehta and grand daughter Faarah we had attended the preview of Cle (Modern Lebanese by a Michelin starred chef). Dubai’s food scene continues to rock. Please do help me keep a tab on it… share your recommendations of Dubai  vegetarian restaurants (mail rashmiudaysingh.Dubai@gmail.com  instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh By the time you are reading this, I will be in New york, but waiting eagerly to hear from you.

 

DESSERT MAKERS & HOME CATERERS #WHATSHOTTASTINGSESSION

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DESSERT MAKERS & CATERERS (WHO WORK OUT OF HOME)

I am thrilled! As the Times Food Guide 2015 goes to press, am setting up #Whats hot Tasting sessions (to include new talent in the books) Have discovered amazing home baking and catering talent.

HERES HOW I DID IT

Anyone  who bakes or caters professionally out of home can take part. For the past 20 years, I have been regularly  conducting these  sessions (in Mumbai and Chennai) in order to discover and encourage home talent and to include the talented ones  in The Times Food Guide.

I invite and encourage new talent to get in touch with me. For this session I was flooded with Instagrams, tweets and mail requests. I invited dessert makers and caterers  who came all the way from Colaba, Chembur,  and more. We conducted the Session at Andheri’s  Boveda.

HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT

Should you want to be included in the Times Food Guide 2015 please email your details (background, specialties, pricing, home delivery, contact details) to rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com or instagram or twitter @rashmiudaysingh.

IMPORTANT NOTE Please note that I do NOT have any one coordinating or assisting me so please mail your details directly only to me.

 

APOLOGY

Sorry for the brief one line note on each one of my talented group today. As you can see I am very short of space. Should you be interested do call and check with each one of the dessert makers and caterers for more details.

HOME DESSERT MAKERS

EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED HOME DESSERT MAKERS
EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED HOME DESSERT MAKERS

Odd Hour Kitchen’s Shivani has invented a yummy Brookie (brownie cum cookie)  which is a must try as are the  Yoghurt cake, Nut cookie cup cake

9820009500 (Chembur)

Onesta confections

Superb salted caramel  Gourmet Chocolates, cheesecakes from Neha Chowdary, a New York trained professional.

9820808412 (Juhu)

Sweet Bliss by Ravisha Sharma This Comerce student’s  Nutella cakepops come out tops. Cupcakes, marshmallows, cakes too.

9167155935 (Andheri E)

Cocoa love by harpriya ‘s Blueberry chocoloate mousse and carrot cake worth trying.

9819038623 (Santa Cruz)

Ask for Sweet Escape Nikita bokadia ‘s mango chocolates and flavoured brownies

9833041711 (Khetwadi)

Lakshmi Nambiars Bakery junction Banoffie cupcakes, sugarfree white chocolate butterfly are a must try.

9920211922 (Juhu)

Tooth Fairy by Rachana shah

The best semi-sweet gooey chocolate brownies in town. Oatmeal cookies, banana-chocolate loaf/muffins worth trying too.

9930044960 (Breach candy)

Cheesecakes republic by  Aishwarya Jalan & Shruti Jalan sure takes cheesecakes seriously and serve up seriously good Baked & No bake cheesecakes, tea time cake loaves,

9820302204 (Goregaon)

 

Bakers hut by Manali Modi specializes in designer cakes. Ask for her  black pepper and pineapple muffin

9619940706 (Parel)

EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED HOME CATERERS
EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED HOME CATERERS

 

CATERERS

Satvita Foods You name it and Mamta can dehydrate it.  Great for students going abroad too. The

mix vegetable and pav bhaji actually pack a punch.

9821136696 (Saki Naka)

Sama Ankolkar’s The Hungry Bunny’s Haleem and Biryani, Pepper chops are worth asking for. She also specialises in Italian food ( yum eggplant parmesan and pepper lamb chops )

9820028092 (Versova)

T’s Kitchen by Tejas

Looking for homestyle Goan fare? Go  Goan with Tejas’s Cafreal and succulent beef curry.

99203 16702 (Andheri)

Cherina Gamadia’s Mediteranean magic from her ‘Bhuke Plate’ kitchen offers delicious  Labneh Kishk, hummus, pumpkin pasta and more. 9920028472 (Colaba)

Hot Rocks BBQ by Srikar Shetty and Neville Patel

Burger buffs must try Srikar Shetty and Neville Patel’s peanut butter burger,  chicken burger too.

9833911474 (Andheri)

Food Biz by Amar Jog  has catered for Nita Ambani and Amitabh Bachchan, superb chingdi champ litchis stuffed with cheese mousse and firecracker mozzarella. 98196 95223 (Andheri)

Aditi’s Healthy Bowls crunchy home delivered salad packages (cottage cheese salads, barley salads, leafy salads and more)

91 67 157656 (Andheri)

CROWNING MASTERPIECE

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It doesn’t get any better than this. I’m getting a taste of the most sublime “lemon tart” which is made to the same recipe for the past many centuries and I am doing so on the worlds beautiful city’s most beautiful terrace. And it is acknowledged to be so even by the perfectionist Parisians. It has a 360 degree panoramic  view of Paris and it has the city’s landmarks within kissing distance of each other. Please take a look at the photograph and you’ll see the terrace we are on, you’ll see the Eiffel tower right there, what you cannot see in this photograph is the other landmark of Paris, The Arc de Triomph (which is also within kissing distance.) This picturesque terrace is not only located between historic landmarks but also crowns one of the city’s most loved iconic landmarks, Hotel Raphael. Did I begin this paragraph by saying “it doesn’t get any better than this”? It does. Because with me is the fourth generation owner of the Raphael, the charming, well-travelled, dynamic Veronique Valcke

Baverez. Her family Baverez, since 1898 has been dotting the city of Paris with historic landmarks, Regina, Majestic and ofcourse Raphael.I not only get a first hand account of the history of Paris and Raphael but also the recipe of the most sublime”Lemon tart” .  Every last detail (from the cuisine to the plants on this terrace) is overseen by  Veronique and her mother. “My mother loves roses” points out Veronique as we inhale their fragrance and are surrounded by more than 100 kinds of flowers,. lavender, Japanese apple trees, Box trees. We sit under a snow white linen umbrella, the terrace has a refined floral atmosphere in a Belle Epoque style and right next to us is the giant marble chess board, a tribute to the founder Leonard Tauber, also the cofounder of the chess club of France.

Chennai times
French elegance at it’s best, Veronique Valcke with her culinary team

 

SUPERSTARS SPARKLE

Movie buffs will instantly recognize the Raphael, because not only have many a super hit film (Love in Paris, Place Vendome been filmed here but many a film star has stayed here.) And this includes legends like Marlon Brando, Ava Gardner, Kylie Minogue.Statesmen, political leaders, academics, film directors, actors, writers have favoured The Raphael over all other hotels.

It’s not just the movie world, even the art world has been dazzled by the collection of original masterpieces here. These are normally housed in museums but find place of pride in The Rapahel. From masterpieces by Turner to those by Classical artists…Raphael is a mini-museum.  It even has origianl louis xv and xvi pieces of furniture, sofas, table et al.  The young patisseur Nina metayer bakes to the time tested recipes of centuries, Thomas Chagray cooks to classical ones too. Overseeing it all, is the vivacious Veronique who ensures that every last detail is a masterpiece. Like the Lemon Tart (whose recipe follows).

P.S. Interestingly,  the plot to eliminate a dictator was hatched in The Raphael and the conspirators were known as Raphaelites. I didn’t take part in any such conspiracy, but Ive succumbed to the Raphael magic and am also happy to be known as a Raphaelite.

 

Lemontart

 

Sweetdough

  • butter               300g
  • icingsugar        190g
  • almondpowder        60g
  • salt           1g
  • eggs         113g
  • Vanillapowder 2g
  • Flour                500g

In the butter, icingsugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla powder and flour.incorporate the eggs. obtain a homogeneous dough, keep in the fridge. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thick and place in the tart moulds about 1.5cm high on 7.5 cm diameter each. Bake  at 170°C

 

lemoncurd

  • Sugar                       480g
  • eggs                 500g
  • Butter                      400g
  • Gélatine                   3 leaves
  • Lemon zest              10 units
  • Lemon juice            10 units

Combine in a big pot lemon zest ( grate the skin) and juice.  Place the gelatine leaves in very cold water.. Mix it all, slowly little by little with a spatula. Keep in fridge. When its cold put the lemon curd into the pastry shell.

lime meringue :

  • Eggs white               200g
  • Sugar                       100g
  • Lime zest                 2 units

Whisk the eggwhites, add the sugar, add  the lime zest more delicately with aspatula.Garnish the lemon tart with a piping bag. Bake for a few seconds in the ovenjust for a little color

THE SAHIB ROOM & KIPLING BAR

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Indian

My salaam to the Sahib and (never forget) the  Memsahib. Interestingly, now that  current restaurant trends are all about sleek minimalism, molecular gastronomy and global fusion, Palladium Hotel’s four month old Sahib Room is a thrilling blast from the  past, a reminder of how much pleasure can be had just from being tucked into elegance and graciousness. And fittingly my dinner companion is the epitome of style and substance. The ever-gorgeous Dr Jamuna Pai, pioneering cosmetologist is renowned not just for the many firsts to her credit but also for her Bridal TV shows and the innumerable  Miss Universe, and Miss India’s she has been skincare expert to. With cutting edge skincare clinics in Mumbai ,Delhi and Pune she has almost become a household name now in India for skincare, but  she still makes time to cook Indian food brilliantly. Her fabulous recipes have been part of  my Penguin Celebrity cookbook too,.Both Doc and  the soft spoken Suchi Kalia give a thumbs up to the food here.

DECOR

It’s spacious, it’s plush, it offers privacy. We sit under shimmering Ossler chandeliers and Venetian crystals, (plenty of space between tables) and  finely curated prints (that date back to the 17th century) around us. We love the community bar table, the quirky magnifying reading glass, quill pen and gramophone in the adjoining Kipling bar (with many an innovative cocktail) and settle down to a leisurely and fun dinner.

FOOD

Multilayered, rich, spice perfumed flavours from Awadh, Hyderabad, Kashmir and more. Hailing from the Awadh region, 32 year old chef  Angad Rai not only brings his training in the Lucknavi kitchens  but also khada and khushboo masalas pipri, kachri, patherkephool, nag kesar, rose petals. He handpounds them and teases big effects from the superb softest Galouti and equally good  vegetarian waterchestnut and avocado Khaas Kebabs. We trip out on the homestyle Awadhi Purvanchal saag (spiked with bathua And ambada).Exquisite nalli nihari (cooked in Unani masala) must be mopped up with the light saffron flavoured taftan bread.   Succulent Lahori chaampain with whispers of saunf. Kashmiri hand pounded Sasranga  mutton  mellowed with curd, saffron and mogra is a must try. Khaas dal makhni rich with safed makhan too. End with the moist, subtle and flavoursome kache gosht ki Dum Biryani. Plenty for vegetarians (50 percent of the menu)

Try the Kalonjiwale Baigan, tangy Amchuri Bhindi  and Ande ki biryani.

MINUS POINTS

Small portions. We could do with more generosity. The seafood (be it the gongura prawns or the jaituni pomfret) though not below par lacks the masterfulness of the rest of the dishes. The light Broccoli Dak Bangla.with kasundi mustard  is dragged down with it’s Philadelphia cream cheese slathering. Rajbhog, angoodi rabdi are ho hum, the outsourced paan icecream is a little better, but what is fabulous (and we  ask for seconds) is the Khubani ka meetha (unfortunately, on my second dinner I was told it’s not on the menu anymore).My favourite sparkling water (neither Perrier nor Pelligrino) available in this 5 star hotel.

MY POINT

Kudos to The Sahib Room for not taking it’s name literally and serving up clichéd decor or Anglo-Indian food from the Raj. Instead Awadh, Hyderabad and Kashmi distil themselves graciously on our plates in elegant surroundings. I eat two long meals here (pay an average of Rs 5000 meal for 2).There is consistency in the food (except for a few, the desserts and the portions could be bigger), I am told that the chef uses the principles of Unani medicine in cooking to achieve the perfect balance between being rich yet non-greasy. There is plenty of ceremony associated with fine dining  yet there’s a relaxed air, that is in sync with most diners’ temperaments. I raise a toast in delight with their  paan martini  Mera Salaam hai!

 

The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar Palladium Hotel, Lower Parel/

Av meal for 2: Rs 5,000  Ph 61628000

Open for lunch and dinner

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4


 

TIMES FOOD GUIDE 2015

Booking restaurant tables under fake names, landing up for surprise checks… am busy doing that twice a day. Exciting, exacting and fattening times are here. I am busy eating for The Times Food guide 2015. Would love to incorporate your recommendations, please do share your favourite restaurants and invite you to dine with me (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) FB @rashmiudaysingh instagram, twitter. Waitingly yours.