Review: 25 PARGANAS

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Bengali

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Confession time. I love everything  Bengali (food, mishti, Kolkatta. music, literature and ofcourse the people).So, I dash down (with a Bengali family ofcourse) to this fortnight old fine dine Bengali restaurant . Siddharth Chatterjee, sales and marketing whizkid buys his own fish (loves Rohu and Ilish) from the

4 Bungalows fish market. Along with his lovely wife Namrata he cooks for their son Arjun, (state  tennis champion) whose top favorite is Bekti.Yes! they love this restaurant.

DECOR

Walk under the looming pillarless dome of the Sahara Star into this chic black and white floored restaurant. Open kitchen, shelves with books, rabindrasangeet et al ( in house magician too).

FOOD

Mustard sparkles this great cuisine: whole mustard seeds in hot oil pop and turn nuttily sweet: when ground into a paste, they develop a pungency that is nose-tinglingly memorable. And, for me it is this deft use of mustard in Bengali fish and veg dishes that makes it my favourite. As does the use of  the traditional regional mix“panch phoran”. Freshest of river and seafish here: unerringly fried Bekti, steamed to perfection Bhapa chingri, shorshe Ilish, boneless Bekti jhol…distil the exquisite flavors of Bengal. My favorite fragrant lemon  Gondhuraj enlivens the chicken. The melt in the mouth succulent mutton Kosha Mangsho is another favorite. Chef Prasanjit Ghosh ensures that even the accompaniments of the puffy, crisp Radhaballobi and Luchi and the  Gobindobhog Chaal are superb.  Nolen gur icecream seduces with it’s creamy, caramelly flavour and texture .

MINUS POINTS

Sadly the portions are small and the prices high. Though well presented in a coconut shell, the dhaab chingri is too sweet and lacklustre. Mediocre banana flower Mochar ghanto. Ditto for the rossogulla and payesh. No aloo poshto on the menu.

MY POINT

The brand new, open-for-dinner only stylish, fine dine Bengali restaurant of Sahara Star serves up authentic and delicious fare. If it increases it’s portions and decreases it’s prices (Rs 6000 meal for two) it will have us going back for more.

25 Parganas Sahara Star Hotel, Western Express Highway, Santacruz East
39807162
Timings: 7 pm-1am (dinner only)

 FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5

Open for dinner only

Meal for 2: Rs 6000

A TASTE OF THE SUPERSTARS

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It is right here, on the patio, overlooking Rodeo Drive, (the glamor boulevard to the world) that, over the years, Ive met Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Gulshan Grover and Preity Zinta. Today, right here, I not only photograph three superstars of the hospitality world and my favorite French masterpiece of texture and flavor, Chicken Liver parfait, but also send you it’s recipe. This from the creative maestro Chef Thomas Bellec  from the ultimate winner of a symbol of Hollywood highlife and dining. As they say, if its Hollywood, its got to be the “Pretty woman hotel” (the movie was shot here) Beverly Wilshire where eight decades of Hollywood history distils itself. Every sexy, sleek square inch here bristles  with style and star power. It preens itself on the glamor boulevard of the world, the Rodeo drive. Hermes (creator of
the Kelly bag) and Ferragamo (inventor of the Platform shoe) share the
Rodeo drive with the glamorously elegant Beverly Wilshire. It is here that the prestigious and high profile               Princess Grace of Monaco gala, Ferrari s 60 th Anniversary was just celebrated. It is here that  Warren Beatty lived  for fifteen years. As did Elvis Presley.

MAESTROS ALL

It is here, in the legendary Beverly Wilshire, that the high priest of American chefs Wolfgang Puck’s cutting edge steakhouse has won many awards.It is here that French chef Thomas Bellec’s
brilliance at  sourcing local foods and
incorporating unique flavors into his classic French training shines through. He distils the
world on our plates. The multi-talented Chef Bellec hails from Brittany, painstakingly and brilliant makes his own  Charcuterie (has even introduced a charcuterie and beer night.) His menu at BLVD ( voted top “Power Tables” … Wall Street Journal) is in great demand. Having reigned supreme over Los Angeles, Chef Bellec is determined to put Beverly Wilshire on the world gourmet map too. Spearheading this legendary landmark (and three other hotels too) is the dapper,  well-traveled gourmet, Benn Trodd. Having completed his post graduation from London and led many a hotel to win awards, he is injecting energy and youth in this legendary landmark.

Also with us today is writer, communicator par excellence, Vogue fashion network, blogger styleguru, the very lovely, Carrie Mitchell who along with Ben Trodd sits on the  Board of directors of Rodeo drive.

Together the trio ensure that luxury drips in every practical detail
and human warmth marks every hi-tech comfort. From the Ferragamo amenities to Fine foods to gliding in a sleek Silver Ghost Rolls Royce (“courtesy” car to all their guests to go within a 3 mile radius of the hotel) is a routine part of the stay here.Beverly Wilshire makes it a habit to make each one feel like a
star. Therein lies it’s magic.


 

CHEF BELLEC’S PERFECT PARFAIT

Yields 4 portions

1 lb chicken livers, cleaned

 

Marinate with port wine (1 cup), 1 peeled halves shallot, peeled garlic clove,  sprig of   parsley, 1 whole juniper berry overnight.

 

Drain livers. Make sure the sauté pans are scorching hot. Saute livers, giving a hard sear (including all garnish). Pour livers into a bowl. Deglaze hot pans with brandy.

Blend livers in a food processor (robot coupe) until smooth.

Pass through a strainer.Season with salt, black pepper.

Add 1 whole egg, ½ yolk and 2 tsp heavy cream.

Finish with ground nutmeg, ground clove, raw brandy (splash). Check seasoning.

Pour into mason jars, ½ full. bake in a bain marie (water bath) in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool at room temp. Serve with baguette croutons.

HOLLYWOOD’S HOT NEWS

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I write from Hollywood, the star-spangled capital of cool, with it’s vivid blue skies, bright sunny cold days. It has this mesmerizing effect as I find myself being guided through the newest and the best (by LA Times Food critic Irene Verbilia and two Foodie Angelenos, actor, writer Dhruv Uday Singh and Tracy Dubin.) We celebrate at  the new, packed with star-power Hakkasan that sprawls glamorously in Beverly Hills. Superb food and two Indian stand up comics (who make India proud)  for company… Mon rok and Tushar Singh. We also dine at the high-priest of American cuisine, Wolfgang Pucks 3 decades old flagship Spago which is as good as ever. Nobu’s first ever restaurant Matsuhisa”  delivers a seamlessly great experience. The Japanese Katsuya’s sushi   and sashimi, the airy cheery downtown’s Bottega Louie’s Sweet potato chips are lodged in my taste bud memory. “Blvd” in the “Pretty Woman” hotel’s (Beverly Wilshire)  new French chef Thomas Bellec weaves magic.Another must visit is  Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores for outstanding Southern fare. Need more info pl email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh

Review: FAT MAN’S CAFE

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European

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I really do value your views and recommendations. I am not only constantly requesting for them via email, twitter and instagram but also reach out to you (by inviting you to dine with me on blind dates). And today’s restaurant review is an example of what I love to do … walk up to diners and request their views (and photograph them, like today). The reason is simple,  your views reflect  accurate unbiased experiences and   help me keep a finger on the pulse of the city. Also inspite of my taking extreme care (booking under a fake name, sending my guests ahead to order) if I am recognised, then the whole experience changes. So getting the views of the diners already eating in the restaurant is invaluable. Like these of the lovely, lively diners… Rakhi Samptani,  Jayshree Adtani. Reshma Adtani Aradhana Singh, Chandni Tolani

Dr Mohsin Thanawala and  Dr Anushree Shiralkar

The review that follows incorporates all our views.

DÉCOR

The interestingly named “Fat Mans café” crouches between many other tiny eateries on the restaurant strip behind Leelavati hospital. A cheery vibe, cozy white walls, a board with “Fat man’s rules”, pretty patterned tiles and upholstry complete the décor. We like.

FOOD

It’s zigzagging menu goes through breakfast, soup, salad, appetisers, burgers, sliders, pizzas mains and dessert. I ate here twice, the hearty egg bowl framed by a rustic blend of creamed spinach and herbed tomato sauce,  has improved. A tasty grilled tomato pesto sandwich, Beef sandwich enlivened with caramleised onions,  al dente Fettucine, okayish Grilled chicken, here. Ask for the well-made chargrilled chicken burger (fried egg et al)  Black white mousse cake, refreshing orange cream slice, Dark Chocolate Mousse Cup are delightful.

 

MINUS POINTS

Slow. Agonisingly slow service . My favorite Eggs Bendict  served on bread, sans sauce hollaindaise. Styrofoam like potato mash with the grilled chicken, overcooked mushrooms, lacklustre pancakes,

jacket potatoes overloaded with a slushy cheese. Soggy, apple crumble.

MY POINT

We all love the name of this tiny café. The cheery, white-walled ambiance too. Open through the day, eggs,  sandwich, burger kind of menu here. The opinion is unanimous that though not exceptional or outstanding,  most of the dishes are tasty, generously portioned and moderately priced. I ate here twice and the food had defintiely improved . However, at all times, the service was slow. The side-effect of being called “Fat man’s café”?

Fat Mans Café, shop No.9
ONGC Building No.3
Near Lilavati Hospital
Bandra (West)

2640 2053

Open 11am to 12.30am

AV MEAL FOR 2: Rs 1500

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 2 DÉCOR 3.5

 

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