“Smiling BKK” thats the name of the Dubai restaurant, recommended by my blind dates. Mona Lisa (with a moustache) graces this Thai eatery, ( the owner looks like Mona Lisa, we are informed). While the young luxury inventory controller Mohit Bidchandani is holding a gun (given by the waiter to call him) PR consultant Vaishali Chatterjee, trend spotter, dancer is smiling with the menu. As is Tech & digital enthusiast, travel pundit Aneesha Hingorani (thanks @petpujaris). We love the small, vibrant tucked away eatery with it’s Thai curries and fish cakes. Watch this space for more hidden secrets which my blind dates help me sniff out. Be my foodie date Instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh
Multi-cuisine Rooftop bar
Sexily glamorous. Highest in Mumbai (40th floor) Alfresco. Rooftop Bar. These words define Asilo (A-Sea-lo) perfectly. Sure! It serves a full dinner menu too (we ate our way through the menu) but it’s as a bar that it rocks. My foodie guests, architect, businessman and yoga expert, rock too. Dashing and gifted, California educated Saket Sethi has not only done Salman Khan and other Bollywood offices and homes but also huge corporate projects.
The long legged lovely Shraddha Setalvad has been developing the Yoga Kids in School Program ever since the new Government has mapped yoga back to India. Friendly, well-travelled foodie businessman Safdar Bandukwala shares his expert views as does another dapper gentleman who prefers to remain anonymous. Our review…
the dimly lit stairwell, onto the 40th floor of the Palladium hotel into a charming space sparkling with white and wood, sofas, high tables, dramatic lighting, goodlooking long bar et al.
FOOD AND DRINK
We ate our way through the menu (Robata grills, use of Josper, an elegant combination of a grill & oven) and came away with mixed reactions. Well made Scallops with Prosciutto
And Baked Brie with onion marmalade, apple confit and spiced nuts came up tops..
A fun cocktail menu… ask for the El Presidente, Sandia Picante, Apple Pie-scented Vanilla Sky. with its mix of vodka, water and cinnamon. El Verde, vodka, midori melon, sweet and sour mix .
That dimly lit stairwell, slow service at dinner are downsides. So is the overdone steak, okayish
barbecued Cottage Cheese. A lot of dishes (
Choc Profitroles and Crème Brûlée were not
available.) Oversweet Mango mia too.
Open only in the evenings, this 40th floor sprawling rooftop bar is a project perfectly suited to restaurateurs (Jay Singh, Sanjay Mahtani of Shiro, Hard Rock Cafe, CPK, Big Kahuna, ) with a gift for breathing fresh life into familiar genres and for conjuring buzz . Though there is culinary thought in the menu (Robata grill et al) the menu has more misses than hits. But then as I said at the outset, it’s more of a Rooftop bar with great ambiance, crowd and music. It really does raise the bar! Cheers!
Rooftop, Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg,
Lower Parel, Ph: 61628000
Timings: – 5.30pm to 1.30am
Cover charge of Rs 2500 per person ( Friday& Saturday after 8pm)
RATING BUZZ 4.5 FOOD 3 SERVICE 3 DECOR 4
I write from Paradise. There’s no other word that describes the feeling of being amid lush green nature in the heart of throbbing, cacophonic Manhattan. And even more tempting in the “Big apple” is the gourmet picnic fare that seduces with it’s masterful flavors and tastes. Each dish unerringly made by the brilliant and exceptionally gifted chef Ashfer Biju.
I love picnics and ever since my childhood have gone on one at the drop of a hat. But this is my most spectacular and memorable picnic ever. Interestingly, picnics have been a part of history and art and literature too. Did you know that in 2000, a 600-mile-long picnic took place from coast to coast in France? This was to celebrate the first Bastille Day of the new Millennium. Even here, in the United States, the 4 July celebrate American independence is a popular day for a picnic. In Italy, the favorite picnic day is Easter Monday. The energy and abundance of nature infuses itself into the food and whoa! What amazing chemistry takes place. And when there is a maestro orchestrating the goodies in the picnic basket then even more magic happens.
BIJUS BEJEWELLED BREAKFAST
Kudos to Ashfer Biju, this young Indian chef who has captivated the highly sophisticated tastebuds of New Yorkers. Ofcourse, he has gourmet genes: his father had a highly popular restaurant in Hyderabad still runs a super restaurant in Malaysia and chef Biju started cooking in his teens.
Not only did this young Executive chef start off by wining the National Level Young Chef’s Competition, in Mauritius but has continued to be showered by accolades and awards. Nationally and internationally. Having worked in many a Leading Hotel of the world he now heads up the iconic Pierre hotel. Here elegant history and glamor tango with modern high-tech luxury. Not only has it played host to royalty and state heads but many a Hollywood star like Elizabeth Taylor have made it their home for several years. It is here in their cutting edge TwoE that he has introduced many an amazing flavor palatte. Two e goes classic, Classic reinterpreted and many such spectacular dishes blitz the tastebuds here. And chef Michael Mignano’s dessert menu also dazzles, with it’s sorbet samplers and more. Interestingly, Pierre also offers Mediterranean vegetable-based dishes, Indian vegetarian, vegan Halal, gluten-free and Kosher meals too.
Through the various menus this brilliant young chef’s passion for traveling and exploring different ethnic cultures, cuisines and people shines through.
His interest in Ayurveda and Medicinal Cooking keeps him evolving amazing recipes too.
Chef Biju has an impressive roster of international work, from Kreo-Asian Food Promotion at Hotel Palace, Luzern to
training at “Claridges Hotel”
“Mosimann’s Club” London.
Chef Biju’s culinary training is rooted in the French and Basque regions. Interestingly, The Pierre has a huge and impressive culinary history. It opened in 1930 serving food in the classic French style, initiated by celebrated Master Chef Escoffier who developed the original menus. That tradition continues. And Chef Biju brings to the table amazing and dazzling flavors and textures. Our picninc basket too overflows with tasty magic…I request for the recipe of the superb buttermilk pancakes and end with the wish “Ma your life be a picnic always”.
Silver Dollar Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 25 tiny pancakes (the size of silver dollars)
2 cups refined flour sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 ea large eggs yolks & whites separated
2 tbl sp powdered sugar
2 tsp melted butter
¼ tsp icing sugar for garnish
10 ea strawberries for garnish
1 cup maple syrup as accompaniment
1 cup chocolate chips optional
1 cup blue berries optional
Method of preparation:
- Pre-heat a griddle or a non stick pan to medium high heat, lightly smear with oil (or use pan spray) and wipe off completely. There should not be any residual oil on the pan, but for a light coating
- Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a mixing bowl
- Mix egg yolks and buttermilk together in a separate bowl
- Prepare a soft meringue by beating egg whites and adding sugar gradually
- Combine all three mixtures in a large mixing bowl ensuring the mixture is homogeneous using a spatula or a paddle, Do not over mix
- Add melted butter to the batter
- Pour the batter on to pre-heated griddle (approximately a table spoon full for each pancake)
- To prepare chocolate chip or blueberry pancake, gently place some toppings on to wet pancake top at this stage
- Once the pancake starts to bubble on top, turn and cook the other side for about a minute
- Remove the pancakes from the pan, dust with icing sugar, Serve hot with maple syrup and strawberries
So what if the name of this restaurant is not accurate and has nothing to do with the location? This Silver Beach cafe is located in the landlocked cacophonic Fort area. It gets a thumbs up from my well-traveled witty foodie guests. Theyre a bunch of school friends, each one doing brilliantly professionally. It’s a delight to lunch with them and hear all their wisecracks, so I request Neil Ramchandani to describe the experience in his own inimitable spoofy style. Here goes…”Seated at the table are London-based private equity entrepreneur and part-time circus bear, Rohit Dhote; Mumbai-based shipping tycoon-cum-professional wedding dancer, Rishabh Sheth; Chicago based jet-setting consultant and Gujju fashion icon, Romanch Dalal; his younger sister, Saumya (soon-to-be Googler and ruler of the tech universe); and University of Chicago MBA student/maker of exquisite yet unsettling hand gestures, Neil Ramchandani”.
Walk through the unassuming exterior into a warm, two-floored inviting space. Sit in the high ceilinged ( exposed wooden beams,) first floor which is bathed in daylight flooding in through the large glass windows.
The menu zigzagged to include a vast array of dishes which is usually not an encouraging sign. But, happily most of the dishes delight. Pasta cooked al dente and a cohesive and delicious filling of the Spinach and cheese ravioli to fish in harissa sauce with just the right amount of kick to it. Must try the thin crust pizza with sundried tomatoes, olive, and pesto. The gooey chocolate pizza with marshmallows makes for a sweet finale. However, the classic pepper and garlic fondue, Argentinean frittomisto (fried calamari), Quessadillas, enchiladas and Turkish mezze platter are okayish.
On the downside, the South African PeriPeri chicken was slushy and lacklustre. As was the molten chocolate cake.
The wait staff was courteous and attentive (our order of roast chicken was not served) but could have shown a better understanding of the menu.
This charming new, two-leveled Fort cafe serves reasonably priced World cuisine, from breakfast, through fondues to chocolate pizza. Appetizers (Rs. 300,) mains (just under Rs. 500.). Well stocked bar too. To end in Neil’s words “For these “foreign-returns” who were finding out that an idli from Santosh Sagar costs a dollar these days, the pricing was modest for the service and ambience offered”.
SILVER BEACH CAFE 16, Murzban Road, Near Sterling Cinema, Fort, 22037356
Open through the day
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3 DECOR 3.5
ORIENTAL (Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese)
There were many questions: Where could well-traveled foodie businessman and the Consul general of Srilanka get a quick working lunch? Oriental cuisine? Well-priced? Brand brand new in South Mumbai? Heres one answer: Mainland China Asia Kitchen.
Both my guests have plenty in common, a discerning palate, both are born in Srilanka, speak Sinhalese. While, the charming bachelor, Safdar Bandukwala hails from a prominent business family there and is Mumbai based, the vivacious Saroja Sirisena, is the multi lingual Sri Lankan Consul General here. Interestingly, Saroja holds an expertise in global nuclear disarmament, cooks brilliantly and speaks fluent French. Safdar travels to the Far East for work and knows Oriental cuisine really well.
Both epitomize the Island spirit, are friendly and great fun and we had a great afternoon.
Colorful, vibrant ambiance in this Palladium mall eatery, buzzing
open kitchen et al.
This second baby of the Mainland China group serves up the popular dishes of Mainland China and also some Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese ones. Happily, the tasty, crunchy corn cakes, unerringly fried Bekti, robustly spiced chilly fish are as good as the steamed plump, moist veg dimsum and the fragrant Thai curry.
The Feathery Sponge is drizzled
with luscious sweet caramel to wickedly flavourful effect.
Overcooked prawns in Hunan sauce. Soggy sushi, lackluster salad and Khaoswey. The one in their Goregaon branch was much better as was the Dynamite tofu and the satay.
Hard dense chocolate rolls
This is the second MCAK, it is (the first in Goregaon). Both have identical menus The food continues to be a mixture of appealing and ho-hum. But it almost always delivers
high-impact flavors (presentation better in Goregaon) at relatively low-impact prices, (Rs 1000, meal for 2). I repeat, Anjan Chatterjee’s Mainland China’s Asia Kitchen is not about fine dining, but Fun dining.
MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN
Open lunch and dinner
MAINLAND CHINA ASIA KITCHEN
3RD FLOOR, PALLADIUM, LOWER PAREL.
Meal for 2: Rs 1000
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
A nine-hour dinner that pampered all my senses, teased my intellect and blew my mind. I was seduced by the Australian gastronomic experience.
Recently, Australia “invited the world to dinner” and declared that for this path-breaking occasion, three of its top chefs would be cooking together. I confess, initially, I was skeptical, but sure, I was flattered and thrilled to be invited as one of the 80 (only 80) “global food influencers” by Australia. I was going to be in fabulous company…superstar chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Alice Waters, Matt Preston, Maggie Beer, writers like AA Gill and many others. It was not a dinner, but an epic that is best explained
Chapter 1: A 15-MILE-LONG DINNER
We begin ‘the’ day on a sunny, windswept pier in Hobart, Tasmania, with the finest and fleshiest oysters pulled fresh from the ocean, complemented by House of Arras sparkling wines and a live orchestra. We are then ushered onto speedboats, zipping through bracing icy winds to a picturesque rocky island dotted by fire pits and pink flowers.
CHAPTER 2: ON AN ISLAND
We are now on the island, at Ben Shewry’s restaurant, Attica, coddled in the warmth of soft blankets, as we devour the freshest of seafood being grilled by Australia’s greatest chefs—Neil Perry, Ben Shewry and Peter Gilmore.
Amidst fire pits and indigenous storytellers, the three head chefs of Restaurant Australia treat the guests to the first of many creative courses—King George whiting in paperbark and grilled baby corn with forest anise from Ben Shewry; Peter Gilmore’s charcoal-grilled West Australian marron with wasabi butter and roasted wallaby tail broth; wood-roast Tasmanian lobster with kombu butter and charcoal-grilled Tasmanian abalone with liver, sake and mirin dressing by Neil Perry. They were all complemented by outstanding Australian vintage sparkling bruts.
CHAPTER 3: DINING IN THE MUSEUM
We then sail across in a huge boat to the iconic Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and fireworks light up the sky as we climb up the fortress. MONA, which sprawls across eight acres, is also home to a winery, brewery, restaurants, luxury accommodation and much more.
Here, the main courses are served on a gargantuan snake-shaped table. We are seduced by amazing flavours and textures of the freshest produce (be it beef, seafood or kangaroo). At MONA, the three chefs blurred the lines of cooking and art, each presenting a unique course
served with six matching Australian wines. Ben Shewry presented salted South Australian red kangaroo and bunya bunya; Peter Gilmore prepared a dish of smoked and confit pig jowl, black lipped abalone, koji, fermented grains, shitake and seaweed; Neil Perry served grilled sirloin, braised cheek, oxtail and tea- smoked oyster red curry.
CHAPTER 4: ROVING SWEET AND STICKY CELEBRATION
After non-stop eating, as we walk down to a lower floor of the museum for the dessert course, we see bird nests on mock trees, each with sweet white eggs. Here Ben Shewry sits behind his ice-cream cart and serves us dollops of seduction—his famous Blue Wren eggs. Peter Gilmore serves fresh lychee, vanilla, rose, coconut prune, salted caramel, jersey cream; while Neil Perry’s date tart mango, pandan and coconut thrills us. We also sample the first raw milk blue cheese to be produced in Australia, King Saul by South Australian cheese makers, Udder delights. The experience was rounded off with a decadent cheese board, which is produced by Bruny Island Cheese Company and Holy Goat.
A dinner that spanned nine hours, sure it was epic!
My idea of Columbus-fun? Straight from JFK (after a 24 hour journey) to a foodie blind date in Manhattan. All thanks to twitter and instagram. We meet at the moderately priced,Cookshop (10th Ave) and enjoy their robust and delicious meatballs, fish and chips fare (plenty for veggies) as we do the sensational desserts. It’s a treat to meet each one :“Mihir never sleeps Pathare”, user experience designer and home chef, Renate Aller, well-known artist, Elaine Goldman, art collector and Phiroza Kothavala hotelier extraordinaire. The exceptionally gifted Chef Ashfer Biju of the iconic Pierre is the only one who Ive met before. We have a super-rollicking time, eating, tweeting, eating. Please instagram, tweet (@rashmiudaysingh) and mail (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) your Value for money NYC recommendations … so that in the land of Columbus I can continue to discover and feel like Columbus too!
Coming soon: The Times Nightlife Guide 2015. Ive been researching and writing these annual nightlife guides for over a decade. This inspite of the fact that I am an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person. So, every year, I stay awake through many a night and do several night life rounds with Mumbai’s young party-birds who guide me.We pop in unanounced into the city’s nightclubs, discotheques and lounges checking out the buzz, music and ambiance. This time two gorgeous San Francisco based sisters, who redefine “beauty with brains” sparkled my night as we not only checked out Exo, but also celebrated their father, Arjun Divecha’s birthday. He is not only a high-flying global investor but also a discerning globe-trotting foodie and co-owner of the legendary Froghollow farm. Stanford graduate, PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, vivacious Mia is a foodie, and world traveler. Vibrant Zai, metalworker and designer’s handcrafted furniture and home goods business is all set to take off in SanFrancisco. They not only thought that Exo is world class but we also had a fun time (see photo).
We loved the stunning view from the sexily glamorous, Exo. It pulsates and rocks on the 37th level of the Palladium hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows, Ossler chandeliers, leather upholstery and foot-tapping music by Exo’s resident DJ Madoc are some of the key highlights of this twofloored nightclub.Rishi Acharya’s haute spot also plays host to some of the most popular guest DJs specializing in different genres of music. A few weeks ago, I had also popped in here for a sundowner only to find it packed and throbbing with the uber stylish guests.This time, we nibbled on their okayish snacks (they were from the Pan Asian Mekong Kitchen, next door).Guzzled on the premium booze ( Do ask for their signature cocktails, Spectrum and GQ.) Arjun cut the birthday cake (swiftly and thoughtfully served up by Exo staff) we danced as the music pumped up and left to check out two other nightplaces. But not before concluding that Exo lived up to it’s name… The word “Exo” comes from “exosphere” suggesting height and an out of the ordinary experience.
■ Palladium Hotel, 462, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Ph: 61628000
Open from 18.00 hrs to 03.00 hrs Thursday through Saturday 18.00 hrs to 01.30 hrs Wednesday and Sunday. Cover charge: Rs 5000 per couple (on weekends)
DÉCOR 4 BUZZ 4 Nightout for 2: Rs 8000