Mumbai

JW Cafe at JW Marriott, Sahar

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Walk past the glittering chandeliered lobby into this vast, 7000 Sq ft high ceilinged JW Cafe at JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai Sahar with open kitchens, metallic screens and pillars. Handsome space but overall, it disappoints. Read my detailed review on TimesCity.com.

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Review: The WOK

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Wok speaks to the moment’s casual ethos. Instead of plates, your food is served to you in cardboard boxes.It is a grab and go refueling station for the office-goer and shopper. Does home delivery too.

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THE DEFINTIVE RECIPE FOR HEALTH

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Found. Finally.  The only one of it’s kind. A guiding light. It guides through the  swirling, whirling tidal waves and tsunamis of information and misinformation on “food” and  it’s “health benefits”. Should we reduce our carb intake? Increase our protein? Atlast, there are definitive answers. The reason?

They are based on science and evidence-based medicine from the globally renowned medical center. They are being conducted in the world leader of medicine and reseach, Mayo Clinic (a non profit center). Not only does Mayo Clinic have 150 years of expertise in complex medical conditions, they also have extensive knowledge of how wellness affects our health. They are applying their knowledge and research it so that everyone can benefit.

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SINGAPORE SURPRISES

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Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore
Simone Arora, Zarine Khan, Connoor Kripalani Thadani, Urvashi talwar, Sajni Gill SSTANDING Raj Anand and Phillipe Chaumat In Singapore

I’m convinced that the very gorgeous Zarine Khan’s family is not only the first family of film in Bollywood but also of food as they are all super-gourmets. So when I met both mother-daughter  (Simone Arora)  super-talented celebrated home decor designers  I couldn’t resist getting all their Singapore foodie secrets from them. I spotted them at  the French showcase of innovations designs and trends in home and dining décor, Maison Objet, which I regularly attend in Paris and now past two years in Singapore. The dynamic Raj Anand and Philippe Chomat  welcomed them  to this  sprawling show, the second edition in Asia which displays cutting edge designs of tomorrow today.. Also here were superstylish Singaporean foodies… Urvashi Talwar, Sajni Gill, Singapore’s restaurateur and  home-décor entrepreneur and  best-selling author Conoor Kripalani Thadani, I not only got updated on the latest in dining trends but also  got the latest on where to eat in Singapore ..please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh and will share with you. Happily!

Review: Romano’s

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Italian

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Cracklingly new. Shiningly new. Newingly new. Now, that Ive hammered the message through about this brand new Italian restaurant, let me tell you that I got to know  about it not through a PR release or chef, but through my long-distance call to my very knowledgable foodie-dynamo buddy Dilip Joshi who  has answers to all (almost)  my questions.

 DECOR

Nudged into the armpit (almost) of my most beautiful T2 airport (Im quite crazily in love with it) the brand new JW Marriott glitters. Walk past the shimmery lobby with dripping chandeliers and youre in for a surprise. The sprawling, high ceilinged, dimly-lit dark wood, very handsome and macho  restaurant is a total contrast to it. A pleasant contrast. An open kitchen bustles into view and two staircases lead into the bar area on the mezzanine.

FOOD

Traditional Italian. Short menu. No pizzas. No Ossobuco coz no beef (ofcourse) Im told their chef is from Naples, but was on leave when we ate here. Food was still good. Which is a super sign. For starters, the Buratta (Rs 695)  (from Bangalore) was voluptuously creamy, kissed by basil pesto and a must try. It was the superlative  sea bass (Rs 1595) baked in parchment paper, flavorsome with lemon sauce and clams that was the star of the show. Delicious Pepper spring chicken  rosemary potatoes pickled  chillies (Rs 1295). Huge big sharing portion of delightful tiramisu (therefore priced at Rs 650).

   

MINUS POINTS

Okay! since it is not even a fortnight old, there being no Gelato no Proseco no Grappa is understandable. But why was the spaghetti alio olio so limp and overcooked? And the  

Scallops in  Butter brandy (Rs 745) with grit in them? Vegetarians need more dishes, please. The side dishes of vegetables do not count (though our side dish of green beans was yum) The sommelier was knowledgable, helpful, though the wine list could do with more Italian wines.

 

 

MY POINT

Though  Romano’s homestyle Italian menu and cooking aren’t particularly adventurous or inventive, (not enough vegetarian dishes) it’s dishes do a deft, unusual seesaw between heartiness and delicacy. These strengths and the restaurant’s macho cozy setting will take Romanos a long way.

P.S.Even though only a fortnight old, it was already quite packed.

 

ROMANO’S JW Marriott Sahar,  IA Project Road, T2 Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport 

28538661

RATING FOOD 3.5 DECOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

Open for dinner only

Meal for 2: Rs 5000

 

Review: ASADO

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Multi-cuisine

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Whats going on? Why has Bandra’s newest restaurant been proclaiming it is a “Latin American fine dining restaurant”? Help! I am seriously questioning my own knowledge of geography. Does  Latin America include Italy and Japan et al?  Ofcourse, this cuisine does have influences from all over the globe. But confusion gets more confounded when the waiter in Asado  tells me that “pasta is a Japanese dish”. Thankfully, my guest Pierre Ortoli has not only lived and worked in Buenes Aires  as has Dr Mathilde Richou osteopath but her father also has vineyards in Argentina. Our review follows

 DÉCOR

Kitschy or cute? Handpainted walls  recreate a quaint Latino town in this  65-seater. Clear blue skies, fake birds perched on fake lamp posts too. Outdoor seating too. Casual, relaxed ambiance.

 FOOD

So don’t get stuck on the label  and go looking for “Latin American” fare (they do have a few names of dishes from there. No ceviches). You’ll enjoy the flavorful edamame truffle risotto, okayish beef empanadas. It’s the Brazilian beef steak (Rs 2000 plus) done rare that dazzles. Both our desserts…churros and Tresleches were just about okay.

MINUS POINTS

Stodgy Kataifi prawns and vegetarian flautas. Ditto for the veg wraps. Fatty pork spare ribs, though Bbq sauce delicious. All the Vegetarian dishes we tried  were limp and floppy. The servers were uninformed about the cuisine.

MY POINT

Asado “Mumbai’s first Latin American fine dine”  doesn’t just flit tentatively across a few borders but knocks down a whole bunch of them altogether.

It bops around the globe and serves some okayish though expensive dishes and wines (our bill for three was Rs 14000, with wine). Our meal began with great expectations and ended with a whimper.

P.S. But then I walked outside onto Bandra’s SV road  and found myself wanting to give Asado the benefit of the doubt. It has the location. It has the enthusiasm. With better judgment, research, a lowering of prices and a Latin American trained chef perhaps it could live upto it’s ambitions. We wish it all the best!

ASADO  Monorama Chambers, Ground Floor, S V Road. Bandra West

Ph 6568 6666

RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 2.5 DÉCOR 3

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Multi-cuisine bar

Good Wife
My fab foodie blind dates…Shayan Italia (the guy making fun gestures) Pooja, Jumana, Mohit, Jigar, Hunaina at The Good Wife

First Question: Is  BKC’s new wife any good? Answer:Take a look at the photograph I shot. Second Question: At The Good Wife, how was my foodie blind date with six readers? Answer: Take a look at the photograph. This new bar serves up  a cocktail  of  relaxed merriment which is infectious. I am absolutely over the moon to spend an evening here with my  fabulous foodie blind dates.

DECOR

There’s fun written all over this new bar. It’s large, has a warm, welcoming feel and is packed. We love the wall mural sketch with it’s  Neanderthal man, Batman and Spiderman  playing cards and so on. There is a choice of seating arrangements…comfy and dinner table too.

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FOOD AND DRINK

The co-host of Discovery Channel’s series Cocktail Kings spearheads the bar here. So there is drama and flavour, my drinking buddies rate these highly, be it  The Good Wife, a whisky sour cocktail ( sprayed with a vodka based black cardamom spray) or  The Wolf Of BKC, ( orange vodka based  with a rose aroma.) The tostada  sprout chat brims over with zing and texture and is a must try. Tasty Baby Lamb Sliders – and their vegetarian version of corn jalapeño sliders too.  Goodwife home salad, fresh and well made. Okayish though oversauced pasta ( Fetuccini, penne). Succulent Five spice crispy duck delights, Vanilla Panacotta and chocolate fondant pass muster.

 MINUS POINTS

Here’s the irrepressible Shayan Italia’s fun take on the Rosemary Chicken Tikka – “A touch dry for my liking and everyone questioned where the Rosemary was? I thought it being late and she may have gone to bed” It certainly was dry and lacklustre. Ditto for the  Forest Mushroom Filo, stodgy Chicken Gyoza,  and three Peppercorn Chicken. The roast chicken disappoints.
MY POINT

Why did the Rocking Tham brothers (of the award winning Trilogy fame) name this relaxed, fun, buzzing bar “The Good Wife”? I don’t know of any good wife who conceives cocktails with such imagination and mixes them with such skill or magnetizes such a buzzing crowd.  The food is a mixture of appealing and ho-hum.  Dont go for the food, go for a fun-time to this open-through-the-day bar. This Good wife is  a plausible cynosure of a fun night out and not just a grubby refuelling station.

P.S.Our Shayan Italia has the last word about The Good Wife “ The Queen Bee took so many of our photographs that we left the place like rock stars. In the end they all concluded that I was the one making the most of the evening, purely because I’m a complete loser, hopelessly single and still looking for “The Good Wife”

The Good Wife, The Capital, ground floor, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), call 40109433

Open 11.30 am to 1 am

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DECOR 3.5

MEAL FOR 2: RS 2500


 

 MY FAB FOODIE BLIND DATES

This is it. This is why I love my work as foodcritic…to connect to and meet foodies Ive never met before. To feel the foodie pulse of the city through them, to discover new places, to get their reactions and ofcourse I absolutely love meeting them.  Each one is a gem: theyve taken the trouble to come from all over (Malabar hill, Jogeshwari, Ghatkopar, Khar.) The well-organised, dapper Jigar Parmar (@jigarparmar), construction maestro, foodie, diver  books the table in his name.  Ever helpful.  Mohit Chatrani (@hungrybawarchi) head chef,  blogger, YouTube channel owner gives his take on the food. Gorgeous girls sparkle the evening, be it Hunaina Sonsara  (@hu_nai_na)  housewife,stylist,foodie who loves travel Jumana huzefa electricwala, who is truly a multidimensional creative energy in human form.  @ jumanahuzefa proud homemaker,adventure lover who brings along a handpainted creative gift.  @PoojaDharani CS and Law student, Foodie and an aspiring Food Blogger charms. Not to be missed is the multi-talented, articulate, great fun (pl see photo again) Shayan Italia @biryani360  who has set just up  Biryani360 a great new concept Im yet to try. .

 HOW TO BE MY FOODIE DATE? Should you want to be my guest and dine with me, please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail,com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh and hashtag #dinewithrashmi. I will get in touch when Im back.  And even as you read this, I am in Singapore as jury chairperson of my region, attending “Asia’s 50 best restaurants” awards (crossing my fingers for our Indian winners). Watch this space!

Review: BOMBAY CANTEEN

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Indian Cafe & Bar

We are rejoicing! Many reasons…not only is it a joyful experience but there is distinct joy in the food too. There is  a palpable youthful vibe not just in the ambiance, the staff, the diners but once again, in the food too. Bombay Canteen celebrates India and ofcourse Bombay.  Much like my brilliant world renowned artist guest Jaideep Mehrotra  whose  works embody the melting pot of cultures in our metropolis, a melange of the eastern & western sensibilities. Like the Sachin Sculpture at Sasmira Junction, which pays tribute to a local lad using state of the art material to create it.Both, he and his lovely wife Seema feel that ‘Bombay Canteen’ has both these elements and manages to capture them well in their flavours and presentation.

 

DECOR

Walk into this airy 4,000 sq. ft  of brilliantly done up space  and be charmed by the Bombay nostalgia in this unfinished “bungalow” with it’s stained glass, long rustic bar, printed tiles, manually lettered pricing boards.Thankfully it   does not degenerate into a themed cutesy cafe,

space,  Kudos to the Busride Design Studio.

NYC to MUMBAI

This Goan chef, worked in Mumbai and took NYC by storm way before glamorboy Vikas Khanna. I first met Chef Floyd Cardoz fifteen years ago, when I had been flown down to NYC  by Asia Society for a panel discussion on Indian food with the icons, Madhur Jaffrey  and Danny Meyer. I ate with Danny Meyer at “Tabla” , Floyds introduction of Indian food to America and loved it.  A couple of years ago, i ate at Floyd’s  “Northend grill” and came away disappointed. Both have since shut, Floyd still straddles both continents (Whitestreet in NYC and Bombay Canteen here). This one marks  his return to and celebration of Indian cuisine. Along with Chef Thomas  Zachiaras they use only local ingredients (many not served in restaurants) and evolve Indian cuisine by making it “cool”. Their passion shines through.

FOOD

Flavors and textures do a rocking jugalbandi! Like the crisp Arbi tuk and mugra chaat. Goan pulled pork does the dandiya with theplas. Eggs Kejriwal get yummier with Kerala coconutty chutney. It begins with the “chintus” (tiny floating snacks much like David Chang’s Ma Peche) super

Unda Curry Devilled Desi Eggs, paper-thin lotus-root fryums. Chhotas (salads, tacos and more) Badas (

Spiced Grilled Chicken Kaleji ) and we also ask for the “Patiala” ( large sharing dishes) fish. Chef Zachiaras’ coconutty My uncles mutton curry delights. Whoa! the rum-spiked Gulabnut, is Floyd’s improvement on the cronut, but for me its the fleshy guava tan ta tan ( tart tatin) with it’s red chilly icecream that works the magic. A fully stocked bar,c raft beers by The Gateway Brewing Co are the other upsides.

MINUS POINTS

My assistant calls to book the table in his name (I never book in mine) and is told they are booked up till 9.30pm.He persists and finally secures a booking for 7pmand for atleast the first two hours the cafe is more or less empty. The loud music jars and keep getting louder. Multi-Grain Khichdi, Steamed Kokum Idiyappam, banana deep fried pakodas

are ho hum. Infact, the vegetarian fare does not sparkle as much as the non veg one. Milk Braised Kashmiri Raan not available.Ice Cream Sandwich and masala chai popsicle sound better than they taste,

 

MY POINT

Balle balle! Indian cuisine gets its much needed complement of playfulness, modernism and global sophistication. Thankfully no molecular gastronomy here! No chicken tikka masala either!  Sure they don’t ace everything, the portions could be larger, the vegetarian fare more finetuned. Accessibility is the guiding ethos,  it is a go-to, drop-in (open for dinner only) canteen for enlightened food lovers on all budgets. I love the way this canteen  marries locally sourced, serious food with an ultra-casual, spontaneous dining ethos, Eating here feels unencumbered, honest and joyful…that word again!

P.S. I just hope this brand new Canteen keeps it up.

 

Bombay Canteen, Kamala Mills, S.B. Road, Lower Parel, Open for dinner only 7:00 pm – 1:00 am

Ph 49666666 Meal for 2 Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 4 DECOR 4

 

 

Review: THE ROLLING PIN

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Vegetarian bakery, patisserie and cafe

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Are you a vegetarian who does not eat eggs ? Read on and you will be happy you did.  Over the years Mumbai has spawned many a shudh vegetarian Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Mexican, Italian, multi-cuisine  restaurant. This is the very first dedicated Patisserie-Bakery-café serving not just vegetarian but  “eggless-vegetarian” fare. “it’s a brilliant idea. India has the largest population of vegetarian Hindus in the world” opines my guest and blind date, London’s Michelin-starred Benaras restaurant  ‘s  Atul Kochhar (see box) To check out the patisserie I invite two gorgeous French ladies, Stephanie d Aboville who curates unparalleled access to Paris and beyond. Francette Harrison, a French “Jain” (she does not eat onions and garlic). She has moved here ever since her husband has been heading the Four Seasons and  knows Mumbai amazingly well. We also meet two regulars Hiloni and Surabhi who swear by this café.

DÉCOR

The large glassed in TRP stands right opposite the Phoenix High street. It is well light, airy, has an open kitchen and many a counter stacked with pastries, breads and cakes.

FOOD

This includes eggless and gelatin free desserts, breads, croissants, burgers, sandwiches a few multi-cuisine light meals too. Amongst the savories, the soft  paneer bursting with peppery notes is everyone’s favorite. Our Jain Francette loves the  3 jain sliders. The masala corn served in a cone is chatpatta good.   The opinion starts getting sharply divided when it comes to the sweet stuff.  The chocolate bar is everyones favorite.

The rest are not our favorites, But here again, the “eggless-vegetarians” like Hiloni Punatar point out that the

Madagascar mousse Chocolate mousse bar
and Raspberry princess are the best eggless desserts you can get in the city.

MINUS POINTS

While some of the savory dishes like the  Patti samosa are  too spicy or too stodgy, the vada pao is okayish, the khao suey lacklustre. Many of the  desserts are too stodgy, not light enough, the macarons chewy.

MY POINT

Kudos to the Guptas for catering to the niche vegetarian consumer (theyve set up pure vegetarian Mexican, molecular gastronomy restaurants too). In TRP, there are over 65 varieties of eggless and gelatin -free pastries and desserts. Here are some reactions on my instagram and twitter page… @anupa30Eggless macaroons is just absurd ! This is echoed by

@divyabarmecha and @chefkunal . say  @chef_sandeep @tulsi78  “it is heaven for me as I always wanted to try macarons cos of eggs couldn’t try”. So while some of these desserts are yum, many more do not match up to the ones made with egg, but they do fill in a huge need out there. “Eggless vegetarians” this way please!

 The Rolling Pin

Janta Industrial Estate, opposite High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
24979952

Open 9.30 am to 11.30 pm

RATING FOOD 3 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

Meal for 2: Rs 800