We’re rejoicing. Or should I say “re-Joss-ing”? Here’s a Mumbai restaurant which redefines “standing the test of time”. Having magnetised foodies in Kala Ghoda for eleven years, Joss shut down only to be reincarnated as the modern “Joss by Farokh Khambatta” in Santa Cruz.
Villa Vandre sharply reflects a few of the most rewarding developments in Mumbai dining over the 25 years during which I’ve been tracking the restaurant scene (at a time when foodwriting was considered low brow ) . Now more than ever, I find principled, distinctive cooking in places where I wouldn’t have expected it before: in the postage stamp sized Villa Vandre.
Here is the kind of restaurant which makes my entire work as a foodwriter exciting. Hotel Sunny in Chembur is no-frills, inexpensvie and serves the authentic flavor of Kerala! Read my full review on TimesCity.
Many surprises ahead! “Love Thai neighbour” is the tagline to Bandra’s latest Thai eatery and guess who says “Kap Kun Khap” (bon appetit)? Its my charming French (you read that right, one is an expert on Thai food) lunch companions. The question is will you love Thai neighborhood, casual, modern eatery too?
Here’s a feast to beat all feasts. It pampers all my senses…there is light, sound, dance, music and ofcourse food. As though all this were not enough there is also the worlds tallest building and the worlds biggest choreographed fountain to keep me company. If the accompanying photograph had a video and sound track, heres what you’d see and hear… glittering and shimmering fountains leaping and swirling and twirling into the evening sky as different colored lights bathe and sway with them. These fountains dance to music and Whitney Houston’s husky ”I’ll always love you” echoes sensuously as the fountains sway to it’s melody. And as though blessing it all and taking the ringside seat like a benevolent all-caring Pasha is the worlds tallest building, The Burj Khalifa which shimmers glamorously. And right here while feasting on this spectacle I am feasting on the freshest of fare created by the brilliant Executive chef Alain Gobeil . All this is the glamorous Zeta Restaurant where the heart of Dubai seems to throb in all it’s glory. In many different ways.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
RATING FOOD 3.5 DECOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5
Open for dinner only
Meal for 2: Rs 5000
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!