mumbai

Review: TIJUANA IGUANA GRILL AND LOUNGE

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Whoa! Mumbai’s restaurant jungle is getting more populated…Blue Frog, White Owl, Lazy dog, Barking deer and now Tijuana Iguana. Coincidentally, I’m writing this from Australia, home to the most amazing wildlife (which I love). At the dinner, before I left Mumbai my wild-life conservationist guest Sam Mistry explained the interesting background about Iguana, the lizard from Central America and Mexico. Not only is he a trustee of the Corbett foundation but even honeymooned with his Doctor wife Rati in Kenya. A brilliant and dedicated doctor she also makes time for regular visits to wildlife parks. Both love animals (Sam prefers them to humans) and yes! they were happy to be in Tijuana Iguana.

 

DÉCOR

As soon as you walk in, through the greenlight haze, the Iguana eyes stare from the large looming poster. Three smallish rooms (on different levels) make up this new Fort restaurant, set up by American businessman Jai Lalwani, who runs  hotels and similar ‘Ameri-Mex’ concept bars in the US. We stopped at the bar for a drink  and moved up the steps to the tiny space with sofas for dinner.

FOOD & DRINK

A deliciously tangy Margarita, followed with well-made chicken wings

Standard Tex Mex  fare heaped over with beans and cheese, be it Quessadillas or Enchiladas, Burritos. Plenty of Burgers ( try black and blue burger with blue cheese) sandwiches (Philly cheese steak). Many a choice for veggies too (including the wittily named “Patel pasta” “Peruvian paella”). Health club section ( grilled salmon and chicken too) The Simply Sinful Snickers Pie with icecream and an Oreo cookie crust, topped with caramel and fudge was a must try. Plenty of cocktails, (go for vodka melon cranberry based “The Good life” ) Shots at the well stocked bar.

MINUS POINTS

My biggest disappointment was the guacamole, as it lacked  texture and flavor. A lot of the dishes were just a heap of cheese and beans and lackluster. The Brownie bottom pie was thick and hard. It can get very noisy here.

MY POINT

This open all day, new Fort entrant promises to go from a restaurant into a Happy Hour zone, back to a diner and then into a nightclub, all in one evening. We have yet to watch their bartenders Salsa Meringue,  and throw Fire and Toss bottles, but sure enjoyed meeting them much more than we did the Ameri-Mex fare here which still needs to hit it’s stride.

 

Bombay Mutual Annexe, Rustom Sidhwa Marg,Gunbow Street, Opposite Residency Hotel Fort

22695756

Open 12 noon till 01:30am

RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 

 

Review: Villa 69

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Multi cuisine

I am in eight heaven ! Joyfully bonding  and reviewing a restaurant with eight of my fabulous foodie blind dates (I met them over instagram when they hashtagged #dinewithrashmi)  It’s a rainy afternoon and  we are at Juhu’s new Villa 69 and they have come from Mulund, Andheri Vashi, Walkeshwar, Bandra .

Talented homecook Shabnam mukadam (@cookingfiesta1) brings along her most sublime mithai, Photo blogger, marketing porfessional Ritika Betala (@foodiesofindia)

CA turned social media marketer  (@sanjanaj88) are among the first few to come. BMM graduate and food blogger Samina (@theCconfession)

Pro MakeUp Artist.Diane D’costa (@d_diane) Project manager Aaron Pereira @pereiraaaron and

Chartered Accountant turned Lifestyle Blogger  Bhumika Thakkar @bhumika_t join us as we have an amazing time.

 

DÉCOR

By day  this sprawling, very white Villa  (obviously the brainchild of a romantic, with cupids painted on walls) is daylight bathed. It has a charming alfresco courtyard  too. By night it takes on a sizzling, dramatically lit avatar  and throbs with cutting edge music.”Perfect for a date” is the unanimous comment of my guests.
FOOD

In the multicuisine menu which zig zags thru continents, it’s the affordable pricing which stands out ( Av price of main course Rs 395). It’s also the flavorsome Thai curries (we try them all) which come up tops. We all love the daintily presented cottage cheese picatta in the tangy tomato sauce. Sweet spicy honey chilli chicken,crispy panko fish are all worth trying.

MINUS POINTS  

We ask for recommendations and check out the veg as well as the non veg dishes. Suffice it to say that a lot of it does not pass muster, oily flavourless tofu, lacklustre chicken BalineseAyam pelalah, and soggy Fiamma and Toscana pizzas) and totally avoidable desserts.

MY POINT

Villa 69 is one more rocking offering from the successful serial nightclub owner, Suved Lohia. The life-size statue of a horse (glittering mirrors like those in a disco ball) in the restaurant, the Bolly bashes and other night events here make it clear this is a buzz-bedecked party zone. The food has more misses than hits ( the restaurant is totally empty at lunch,) but it’s Villa  69 s  sexily glamorous night avatar which is the hit.

Plot No.30 Near PVR Cinema and Oakwood Premier J. M. Road Juhu

022 6596 9669

Open  from noon to midnight

RATING FOOD 2.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 4

Review: Boveda

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Restobar

Global multi-cuisine

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Whoa! What energy! Aamchi Mumbai is rocking with youth and energetic bars and nightplaces…from Colaba (Colaba Social) through Parel (PDT) to Andheri (Boveda). Before leaving for Los Angeles, I visited each of these new arrivals. Thumbs up to the infusion of youthful energy.

Boveda in Andheri is not only for the young nightbirds but is also set up by two 24 year olds and has an equally young chef.

DÉCOR

The sprawling 2,500 sq feet space with it’s suspended retro bulbs, wooden crates for lamp shades exposed brick walls give it an industrial look.  A long dramatically lit-up bar  and an outdoor patio complete the décor.

FOOD DRINKS AND GIGS

43 starters and  6 mains. Dinner is obviously not what you go there for. Plenty of drinks and gigs is what you do go for…there is no entry or cover charge. DJ s (Arjun Wagle  Ma Faiza, Ankytrixx, Sanjay Dutta)   artists ( Whirling Kalapas, Nikhil D’zouza etc) rock the place..

Ask for the robustly spiced, tossed spiced mushroom jalapeno, the deepfried tasty veg croquette plump with paneer and spinach. Enjoy the dominant paprika flavor of the spiced  chicken.  I particularly liked the smoked haloumi cheese on the American pizza. Desserts were woefully lacking, the chocolate ganache tart was good but not the greatest.The must try signature Bóveda cocktails –  BVD, Spiked Old Fashion, Melon Ball and The Green Beast.

MINUS POINTS

More maincourses are definitely needed. And some of the dishes on the menu, like the chorizo prawn stew with pao, the Madras curry chicken with rice lack the zing and don’t pass muster. Ditto for the halumi potato mushroom butter garlic starter. More desserts please!

 

MY POINT

Open only in the evening, this fairly new Andheri arrival is already rocking. Boveda (“vault” in Spanish) doesn’t mean you go looking for Spanish food (there are a few dishes). Don’t go for looking for dinner either, do go for a great night out (plenty of action) cocktails, well-plated starters (please see photo)  and a lusty, young vibe. Rock on!

BOVEDA G04, Morya Landmark One, Plot B-25, Off New Link Road, Oshiwara Village, Andheri (West). 67080858/59
Rs 1800 for two without alcohol
Open  6.30pm to 1am

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5


A TASTE OF HOLLYWOOD

HOLLYWOOD MAGIC ...CHEF HUGO BOLANOS
HOLLYWOOD MAGIC …CHEF HUGO BOLANOS

Hot, hotter and haute. Newest to the iconic legendary Los Angeles restaurants…  I am eating non-stop (guided by my friend, the LA Times food critic, Irene Verbila). Here reality is more exciting than fantasy. See the accompanying photo and you’ll know what I mean. Long necked swans glide gently past
Wolfgang Puck’s (America’s uncrowned King of chefs)  restaurant as his multi-talented executive chef Hugo Bolanos conjures up the most exciting Californian produce driven dishes. Here in Belair, amid the serene,  the worlds most  romantic  12 acres of lush green paradise,  Hollywood legends like Grace Kelly , Marilyn Monroe have lived and dined for over 5 decades. Even today this romantic haven is full of stars lounging in the Californian cool sunshine.

Here’s the hottest new three month old restaurant “Flores and ladies gunboat society” (Southern American fare to kill for). Mario Batalli’s “Pizzeria Mozza” the century old, open 24 hours “Pacific dining car”remain favorites . Quite the opposite is Jose Andres cutting edge “Bazar” as good as ever.  Ive just received the most precious courier (from Napa valley) the  of the most luscious peaches and pluots  from the worlds most legendary fruit grower “Frog Hollow farm”. All thanks to our very own globetrotting gourmet and finance whiz  Arjun Divecha. Meanwhile the swans are gliding gently as I savor Wolfgang Puck’s signature steak over sundaybrunch and hey! Lionel Richie is on my neighboring table.  I have stars in my eyes…and hey waiter is that a star in my soup?

PS Should you need more info on LA eateries please mailrashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com FB, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh

Review: Hai Bao

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Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Asian

I’m a “Shabu shabu” fan. Dunking thin slivers of raw beef (preferably Wagyu)  in a pot of boiling broth on my table and then pampering my palate with the pristine flavors and textures has been one of my passions around the world. Alas!  this Japanese “Shabu shabu” comes to Mumbai’s “Hai Bao” in a totally different (mainly seafood, veggies added on) but flamboyant avatar to Juhu’s new eatery. It has it’s fans (like the family I bump into here) They’re totally hooked  “The concept is cool, shabu shabu a knockout, addons are superb, it’s a filling yet light meal” say the well known dashing fashion designers Riyaz and Reshma Gangji who along with Aman and Ananya  eat here regularly.  Also checking out this new restaurant is the brilliant Chef Himanshu Taneja, passionate and adventurous foodie wanting to try out all that is new in the city.  Hai bao has serious detractors @chingypatel (Absolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.) @TaariniNB

(you have to pretty much cook their own food, including the meats. Kinda painful.)

The truth lies somewhere in between.

DÉCOR

Profusion of plants (mainly artificial) in this  sea facing, high-ceilinged restaurant with wooden furniture.

FOOD

You name it, they got it. Over the past few months they’ve added on plenty of Chinese dishes especially for the Indian palate (Vegetarian soups, Paneer soya chilly, Chicken crushed pepper, chicken Sichuan pepper. Many vegetarian options too.) Their version of “Shabu shabu” dunking and cooking raw seafood and meats in a choice  of broth ((Tom Yum/ Laksa /Clear Seafood ) with 24 varieties of sauces is a filling, tasty  option. Try the Hanbun combo ( dumplings, fish fillet, cuttle fish, prawns, chicken, eggs and a range of vegetarian  options like pakchoy, shitake mushrooms and broccoli.You could opt for the barbecue grill on the table too. Try the Prawns in shells  enlivened with garlic and mellow with butter, well made

Scallops in white sauce and an okayish panfried pomfret. Attentive service under Leo Pinto, (Ipad menus, fancy call buttons connected to waiters wrists et al ) add  a dimension to the experience.

MINUS POINTS

Some of the raw seafood (for the Shabu Shabu) is not fresh. Thick skinned Chicken kothay, Veg kothay. Avoid the insipid  Laksa broth, the tasteless Hokkein rice. Stay clear of the oversweet and strange desserts, be it  the tender coconut with strands of fresh malai jellied and reset in a hollowed coconut shell or the syrupy sweet mango pudding.

 

MY POINT

“Profusion” accurately describes Hai Bao… from the number of dishes, cuisines, versions of “Shabu Shabu”, dipping sauces to the number of plants here.  Since opening they’ve hiked up set lunch price from 499 to 599 and 999 (with Shabu shabu). The non veg Shabu shabu meal, enough for 4 to 6  (priced between 1100 to 1999) and veg (Rs 750). Generous portions.  Authentic flavors give way to robust, spicy Chindian ones. Adaptation, thy name is “Haibao”.

 

HAIBAO , opposite Ramada Palm Grove, Juhu Tara Road, Ph 26101800

Open lunch and dinner

Meal for 2 Rs 2000

RATING

FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF HAI BAO

Your reviews are invaluable. A zillion thanks. Been flooded with your twitter and instagram and mail reviews (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, @rashmiudaysingh) Sorry unable to print all your reviews due to space constraint.

MUST GO @crazyloveshoesOh amazing! Just amazing!!

@meghna0205Omg I’ve been dying to go here for ages!

@mumbaifoodieBeen there twice last month! Really love the shabu shabu concept.

@foodavalanche ( the shabu shabu tastes brilliant though it’s for a min of 5 or 6 – keep some space for the the laksa soup & their coconut desert.)

@sozzlebeeShabu shabu finally in india.. Went thete almost 6 months back.. Lovely selection of seafood n meats… Quantity definately humongous.. Got excellent service but drinks need to be worked on bigg time…

DON’T GO @vanillachic89Not the best option of people who love to eat meat but aren’t great at cooking it – the taste was great but too much effort – and ended up feeling more stressed that relaxed.

@chingypatelAbsolutely avoidable! Terrible food and service! People get enticed cause the Shabu Shabu concept is relatively new in India.

@duhitachadhaAvoidable!!

@AssLikeNat
avoid
@swetasmishra
#Haibao very very avoidable. Dodgy meat, insipid broths and rather cloying service. Pity because its a good concept.

#WhatsHotTastingSession Part II, Mumbai

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Mumbai’s second WHATSHOTTASTINGSESSION with talented home caterers and bakers.

Ravisha Sharma
Ravisha Sharma

Company Name: Sweet Bliss by Ravisha Sharma

Phone: 9167155935

Email: ravishangel@gmail.com

Twitter & Instagram handles: @ravishasharma

Specialties: Cupcakes, marshmallows, cake pops,

cakes


 

Tejas from T's Kitchen
Tejas from T’s Kitchen

Company Name: T’s Kitchen by Tejas Navin Master

Phone: 099203 16702

Email: sanjaytejas@gmail.com

Specialties: Chicken Cafreal, Goan Roast Chicken, Mutton Sukha, and Pasta


Company Name: Cocoa Love by Harpriya Kohli

Phone: 9819038623

Email: harpriya_kohli@hotmail.com

Twitter & Instagram handles: @harpriya_kohli

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cocoaloveandmore

Specialties: Cheesecakes, Tea- time cakes- Vanilla pound cake,

Pineapple upside down, Carrot cake and Marble cake,

Cupcakes, brownies (Plain, Walnut and Flavoured)

Desserts (eggless)- Chocolate mousse, soufflé and

Tiramisu, Chocolates (flavoured)


 

Nikita
Nikita from Sweet Escape

Company Name: Sweet Escape by Nikita Bokadia

Phone: 9833041711

Email: nikitabokadia1@gmail.com

Instagram handles: @nikitabox

Facebook :

Specialties:  Brownies, shaped cakes and chocolates


 

Company Name: Bakery Junction by Lakshmi Nambiar

Phone: 9920211922

Email: lnambiar1@gmail.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/BakeryJunction

Specialties: Cakes, Cupcakes, Theme Cakes


 

Company Name: Tooth Fairy by Rachana Shah

Phone: 9930044960

Email: Rachanashah@aol.com

Instagram handles: @toothfairybakes

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tooth-Fairy/

Specialties: Semi-sweet gooey chocolate

brownies, Oatmeal cookies, banana-chocolate

loaf/muffins and any other tea-time binge snack


 

Company Name: Cheesecake Republic by Aishwarya Jalan & Shruti Jalan

Phone: 9820302204 / 9820401012

Email: cheesecakerepublic@gmail.com

Instagram handles: #cheesecakerepublic, @shrutijalan14,

 

@aishwaryajalan

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/cheesecakerepublic

Specialties:  Baked & No bake cheesecakes, tea time

cake loaves, carrot cake, squidgy cake, mud cake with

or without rum, mud cake with or without pecans,

Honey almond cake, lemon bars and many more.

 


Company Name: The Odd Hour Kitchen by Shivani Savant

Phone: 9820009500

Email: shivani.vakil.savant@gmail.com

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/TheOddHourKitchen/info

Specialties: Muffins, Cookies, Quiches, Breads & Cakes


 

Dinesh Poddar - Just Cookies
Dinesh Poddar – Just Cookies

Company Name: Just Cookies by Dinesh Poddar

Phone: 9930914574

Email: justcookies4@gmail.com

Instagram: @justcookies_mumbai’

Specialties: Cookies


 

Company Name: Bhuke Plate by Cherina Gamadia

Phone: 9920028472

Email: bhukeplate@gmail.com

Instagram handles: @bhukeplate

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/BhukePlate

Specialties: STUFFED PASTAS, MEZZES, SALADS

 


Company Name: The Little Food Co by Bhakti Mehta

Phone: 9819136441

Email: littlefoodco@gmail.com

Twitter & Instagram handles: @littlefoodco

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Food-Co/

Specialties: Thai paani puri, Mexican fish tacos, Mushroom & leeks lasagne, crepe station, falafels, baked fish, soy honey chicken 

 


Company Name: The Hungry Bunny by Sama Ankolkar

Phone: 9820028092

Email: sama.ankolkar@gmail.com

Twitter & Instagram handles: @thehungrybunnymumbai

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/THBMumbai

Specialties: Muslim and Italian dishes

 


Company Name: HOT ROCKS BBQ by Srikar Shetty & Neville Patel

Phone: 9833911474

Email: hotrocksbbq@gmail.com

Twitter & Instagram handles: @hotrocksbbq

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hot-Rocks-BBQ

Specialties: Hamburgers


 

Company Name: Food Biz by Amar Jog

Phone: 98196 95223

Email: amar@foodbiz.co.in

Twitter & Instagram handles: @AmarJog

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/foodbizinc

Specialties: Appetizers, Ethnic Foods, Modern European, Concept Stations

Review: Spesso Gourmet Kitchen

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Vegetarian global multi-cuisine

Whoa! This is the first time, (in my two decades of food writing) that Ive seen such a massive wave of  pure vegetarian eateries dedicated to serving only global multi-cuisines (no Indian cuisines at all). “Little Italy”  was one of the first, several years ago. Many opened intermittently (eg  Relish, Quattro) but the past few months alone have seen BurmaBurma, Picante, Spice club (to name a few) and Nariman Point’s very own Spesso (the Italian word for “often”)

I eat here twice, the second time is an improvement. The first meal is a disappointment but my guests dazzle. Well-traveled foodies all and here’s the surprise…each one has a vegetarian connect. Leon Bignell, the suave South Australian minister of Food keeps us riveted with his recounting of the large number of Indian vegetarian restaurants in Adelaide thanks to the growing population of Indian students there. Well-informed Queens counsel, Brian Hayes, charming Cathy Parker( Bignell’s aide), Travel maestro Carl Dantas and the dynamic Vinod Advani wine writer (who only cooks vegetarian food when abroad for friends) help me eat our way through the menu. We chat over our Swiss-Egyptian (you read that right) fondue pot. (please see photo)

 

DÉCOR

Walk into the  handsome, contemporary space and be pleasantly surprised. Open kitchen, wooden floor and a patisserie counter complete the décor.

 

FOOD

Many a inter-country marriage takes place here…Italy’s Pizza marries  Mexico (beans, salsa et al) Swiss fondue is in union with Egyptian dukka (and both dishes actually taste good) But lets start counting the cuisines served here…Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese Turkish…then Creole,  French, Malaysian, American, Japanese Moroccan, Indonesian and Greek (excuse me if Ive missed some).  Oh! Yes theres African, Egyptian, Swiss fondue, sizzlers and pizzas too. Presented innovatively and attractively, many a dish is tasty. Aldente penne.

Seven Layered Mexican Shots in shot glasses  are a tasty mish mash of cheese, salsa, guacamole and veggies.

Go for the Spesso Platter (deep fried  crispy roll,  volau vont boxes quessadila s african paneer peri peri) flavoursome Malaysian curry too..
Eggless desserts in generous portions are the high point here. Be it the Hazelnut chocolate pot, the intense chocolatey Lava cake  or even the “jain macarons”.

MINUS POINTS

Don’t go looking for fare made to authentic recipes and be prepared for some disappointments. Sweet soggy volcano nachos, stodgy Prawn tempura, lacklustre Lebanese mezze,  overfried  and hard Arancini

disappoint. Oversweet  Mandarin orange red velvet and  Choco o loco taco. No alcohol served here.

 

MY POINT

Non vegetarians stay away.My Jain brethren looking for international flavors? This is for you. No other restaurant in the whole wide world will cookup so many cuisines (though some are flops) made to your requirements and presented innovatively. Well-made Eggless desserts too.

Well priced (Rs 1200 meal for two, 3 course Power lunch 350)

The arguments over authenticity could go on forever as desi-flavors do the garba and bhangra with international recipes and the result? Mexican pizza, Egyptian fondue. Tasty chhe!

P.S. Looking Indian vegetarian food in Nariman Point? The next door “Status” has the same owners as “Spesso”

SPESSO

Ground floor, Regent Chambers, Jamnalal Bajaj Road, Nariman Point
Call: 40318750

TIMINGS 11 am till dinner

RATING

FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

Cost per meal for two; Rs 1200


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF SPESSO

I write from dazzling Dubai and am thrilled to receive your twitter and instagram feedback. Thanks @tanvivedak (very good food. Tall  virgin margarita, desserts good. Did not expect such variety from a pure veg restaurant. Good service, nice ambiance )

@cherryred_22 ( beautiful ambience and interiors. Amazing rissotto,anglio olio and good combinations of different types of cheese in cheese fondue. All very decently priced)

@snehakhatri looks fancy, food not comparable to similar restaurants @notjustanotherfoodie (The desserts are yum)

@riiaac@power_struggle @rachnavaswani  @power_struggle@romakripalani@saumightsay

@eteepodar@tarunhasan@theashishsingh

@ila_iiLooks good .@divj@gaurav_agrawall

@priti3566@deepakbhatia2014

Do keep sending me your reviews of all and any eateries you like or dislike rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com @rashmiudaysingh (twitter, instagram)

Review: Picante

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Vegetarian Italian, Mexican

Shudh vegetarian goes global and upmarket in Breach candy. It also crosses the Indian borders (or does it?) to serve Mexican and Italian cuisines. I lunch with  a gourmet veggie twosome:  a former state level badminton champion, the multi-talented, lovely Jayshree Sanghi of India’s fourth generation automobile pioneering family is not only a Kathak dancer  (trained under Padmashree Sunaina Hazarilal) but a creative cook whose dinners are legendary. Equally sporty  (US champ in racquetball and squash)  Navin Deo, having spent 40 years in a  high profile US government job is back in India and making Impactroses which have been in huge demand. Im bowled over by his long stemmed roses (see pic)with their personalized gold embossed messages on the petals. We eat our way through the entire menu: result?  the roses and the giant cookie dessert are the only highpoints of our lunch.

 

DÉCOR

Happy surprise. The second floored restaurants  pleasant  ambiance with pale purple sofas, yellow-cushioned chairs with  wooden geometrical frames, simple black-and-white caricatures, and graphics.

 

FOOD

Along with their ala carte  Mexican and Italian menu they offer daily (except weekend dinners) a “Sunday food festival” (Rs 999 for one) you can order all  28 dishes. But we are told very strictly that it cannot be shared. So we get 2 of these and plenty a la carte ones too. The Picante Pizza (even a wheat-watchers one,) al dente aglio olio  and lasagna  pass muster. It is the giant, freshly baked gooeycrisp cookie topped with warm chocolate sauce, and the moistwarm Molten Chocolate Cake that saves the day.

MINUS POINTS

Desi palate  tuned fare, with plenty of cheese and ketchup.Soggy nachos,  ketchupy Habanero Cottage Cheese, ditto for the quesadillas

Burrito lacks punch, overdressed salads, a strange Arabic pizza and so on. And on.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

Open through the day, pleasing ambiance, well-presented food, attentive service are the plus points.  Sure! a restaurant is in the business of making money and has to cater to all tastes   but except for a few dishes, the vegetarian Italian Mexican fare bends over backward to please the Indian palate  and tips over to become a mish mash of Gujjutalian and Mexidesi. Tasty no doubt!

Picante Ristorante, 401, Akruti Skypark, Mahalaxmi, Bhulabhai Desai road.Ph 23529393

meal for 2 Rs. 1500.

Open noon to midnight

RATING FOOD 2.5 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5

 


 

MUMBAI TO DUBAI

MY CUP OF TEA...DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA
MY CUP OF TEA…DR RAJEN KILACHAND AND FAARAH MEHTA

Khulja simsim. Your twitter and instagram messages  as well Dubai foodies guide me through Dubai.  It’s food scene dazzles with world class restaurants (love La Serre, Zuma, La Petit Maison).  I also eat at two brand  new, must-try  restaurants Yuan (Atlantis)  and Katsuya (Dubai mall) with Dubai-based foodie extraordinaire and global philanthropist  Dr Rajen Kilachand. He also takes me to high tea (Fortnum and Mason), along with his friend the legendary Rusi Karanjia’s granddaughter, the gorgeous Faarah Mehta. I trip out on Umai (The Oberoi) cutting edge sushi and cod, Soy (Dubai mall) VFM Chinese, many a local eatery, belly dancing  too. Two “first time evers” … the Awesome Oberoi’s breakfast “Lollipop waffles” (you read that right)  and the fabulous traditional “pre-iftar” dinner at Desert Palm while the spectacular sun sets over the lush green polo grounds behind us. P.S Happy to share info please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh

#WhatsHotTastingSession in Mumbai

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DESSERT MAKERS (WHO WORK OUT OF HOME)

I am very khush! Have discovered amazing home baking talent. Here are   some of the results of my latest #whatshottastingsession.

HERES HOW I DID IT

Anyone  who bakes 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 was flooded with Instagrams, tweets and mail requests. I invited 21 dessert makers (and 6 gourmet tasters)  to the centrally located, evergreen Gaylord with Noel  and Robert being ever helpful.

LOOK WHO’S BAKING

Passion powers these talented women, some have switched careers, others moonlight. From strategic global account manager, engineer, fashion stylist, product manager to CA, doctor, recruitment firm director and architect. Many  are professionally trained too. From popcorn cupcakes to gluten free treats…they do it all. Please excuse my sketchy writing…to get full details you’ll have to wait for the Times Food Guide 2015

  HEALTHY YUMMIES

Sugarfree , gluten free and healthy desserts from Charvi Bubna’s “cheat clean” (Try her brown rice flour and honey brownies. 9820934080)

Eggless expert Shailee  anklesaria’s  “Sugar fairy”  makes cakes et al, super oatmeal cookies (9820246367)

Egg and gelatin-free “Choco kisses”  from  Kairvi mehta and jayshri Mehta (9820029065)

Tara kapur’s  “bombay bizarre baker”   (9820006440) caters to all those with food allergies. Go for gluten free almond cake,

 

 

CHOCOHOLIX UNITE

“Charlene and the chocolate factory” (9833258908)

Charlene Vaz specializes in truffles and chocolates with an indian twist.

Yummy Japanese chocolates by

Varsha kalani’s “okashi” 9833505747

 

DESIGNER DESSERTS

Call “the dessert table” (9867385908) Delafruz tangri and Jalpa timbadia  for super customized desserts with matching crockery and cutlery. Must try Chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting.

Shillpa Bhambri is the only exception, she’s been featured since my first book (1997), her latest fusion cupcake  was a hot seller (Cakeline 9619559433

Hand painted cakes and more by Jahan bloch ‘s “chic confections” (9930704646).

Dimple sanghvi’s   “the mad batter” . candy castle cupcakes , glitterati cookie tower (961911760)

Egg and gelatin free desserts in jars by Innovative Nishita Kamdar ‘s “JAR designs” ( try paan velvet 9819365658)

Internationally trained Shikha Murarka’s  “MishMash” s (9819766027)  sugar and fondant work ( popcorn cupcakes, a handbag cake) were delicious.

 

SWEET SURPRISES

Mango yoghurt cheesecake, red velvet cookies were Shanaz Barodawalla’s signature  “sweet flavours” ( 9890453087)”Knead with love” s Richa Lulla’s (9833480814)

biscuit base brownie with cheesecake was a hit. Good old fashioned american cakes, spiked eggnog  were some of the signatures of  Roshni Vatnani s”the vanilla bean bakery ”  (9833325822)Go for Ruchika Vyas and Kirti Vyas “house of cookies” (9167366770) especially brown butter cookie filled with caramel .  Etee poddar’s “all my sins” (9820651129) unique signature was The black forest in a chocolate cup.Anurita malik ghoshal  (from LCB Paris) baked a yum chocolate chip loaf and the LCB lemon tart. 9820267003)

Umehani rangwala’s “lovecrumbs” caters to all your cake needs (8108429266)Try Witty meha Agarwal’s “the big apple baking co”’s orange cream. 9833015376″My butter half” by yeshi chaudhary ‘s red velvet was yum. 9769299795

 

GOURMET TASTERS

Thanks foodies extraordinaire for tasting, eating, tweeting… Urvika kanoi ( professional chef who helped coordinate this tasting session.) Vasudha kejriwal ( marketing manager) Dinesh bahrani ( Head chef at Boveda)

Kritika dayal  ( at a leading magazine firm)

Ronak Rajani (  social media marketer)

Rishab verma- (LCB trained pastry chef )

 


 

WITH SHUKRAAN FROM DUBAI

A million thanks for all your Eating-out advice  in Dubai (on instagram and twitter.) Will be conducting more #whatshottastingsessions as soon as I return. If interested please contact, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh  rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com

Review: The Spare Kitchen

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Global progressive Indian

THE SPARE KITCHENI’m in Juhu’s new Spare Kitchen and I’m rejoicing. Not only is it a worth-eating-in restaurant but I’m also lunching here with three foodies who I’d never met before (except over instagram @cherryred_22 and twitter).  Hailing from a well-traveled family, not only is the talented Anju Agarwal’s cooking superb and popular with Ruchi, (her vivacious daughter, studying medicine) and the bubbly Gauri (in 10th grade) but her blog is well-loved too. We eat our way through the multi cuisine menu, I enjoy every moment of my lunch with the bubbly threesome, hearing about their idli cupcakes to  their herb garden on the rooftop of their 8 floor bungalow.

DÉCOR

Drive into Juhu’s King hotel’s side entrance and walk into this large 5000 sq ft Spare Kitchen ( for sure it’s much more than a kitchen,) it has an outdoor area (woodfired pizza oven here) a lounge, an open bar and a Private dining too.

Brick walls, dark wood tables flat screen TV s complete the décor. At night, the haze  of dramatic blue light enlivens the restaurant.

FOOD

Comfort food with a twist.Please take a look at the photo, Ruchi is holding up the “Bruschetta two ways” which distils the freshness and flavor of tomatoes on toast and  gazpacho in a shot glass too. The gifted young partners chef Rakesh. Ricky and Gaurav ensure that many a dish tells a story through it’s ingredients and presentation. Happily,  taste and flavor keep pace with the story (except in some dishes). And though it is a mish mash of a menu with Indian starters and mains, plus  pastas, burgers, pizzas and European fare, it still works. Must trys?   Succulent kababs, be it the tenderfirm and unerringly spiced chicken seekh sesame, coriander crusted chicken tikka or the Dual Paneer tikka 2 ways ( sundried tomato and and basil pesto.I   Bombay’s better butter chicken (makhanwala lightly done  with  Italian tomatoes, sans cream) is flavorsome and  the beer batter fried fish and chips and pizzas  delicious too. But  the magic is created by the  Chemistry of mango dessert a charmed  wedding  of tangy  kachi kairi jelly with the spike of aam ras, mango cheesecake with chocolate fudge.An equally mega voltage chocoholics dream come true is the  Chocolate ecstasy (rendered in 5 textures and temperatures) from the simple chocolate tart, to cutting chai with an edible chocolate spoon .

MINUS POINTS

While the presentation of the Chowpatty TSK platter (Bhel vada pao, pao bhaji pani puri shot) is brilliant the flavors lag behind. Ditto for the concept of the “nizzas” naan-pizza  ends up falling flat. Lackluster  chowder (though authentically served in a bread bowl) is lackluster as does the

Malabari Lamb perched atop tiny uttapam discs.Superb desserts, but strawberry rasmalai cheesecake,? Skip it, and take a pass as well on the gelatinous greentea panacotta.

MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT

The Spare Kitchen has (finally) managed to break  the jinx (  three predecessor restaurants  in this venue met an untimely end). Ever since it opened, nine months ago, it has been magnetizing regulars and Bollywood too with it’s choice of progressive Indian, pasta, pizza, burger kind of fare served through  the day (Rs 1500, Meal for 2)  Sure it has its share of flaws, but food’s the center of a meal,  so you’ll be served  a final balance of basic satisfaction and innovative presentation. Comfort food with a spin. A welcome one!

P.S Feedback (@krishpatel689…”awesome) @stuffednstarved @noturpapa whats yours?

THE SPARE KITCHEN  Kings International Hotel compound, ground floor, Juhu Tara road, opposite Juhu church, Ph  65893333,

Open noon to 1 am.

Rs 1500 for a meal for two

RATING FOOD 4 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


WHATS HOT TASTING SESSIONS BEGIN

I am on the lookout for home bakers and caterers to include in your very own Times Food guide 2015. Overwhelmed with your  fabulous response. This years first  “Whats Hot Tasting session” was held yesterday. Should you be interested please email rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, tweet or instagram (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours

Review: Tea Trails

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Tea lounge

One of Mumbai’s latest trends? Swanky, new office buildings getting pregnant with restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars and  nightclubs. The latest to join this brigade is the 10 day old Tea Trails. Is it world class? Or is it a chai ki dukan? I get Tea-lover NYC based “sexiest chef on earth”Vikas Khanna’s opinion. From views on the growing popularity of tea in the US, smoked tea (which he cooked with for his Masterchef show) it’s health benefits to   adding thandai to tea…he gives us plenty of tea-gyan. To meet him my foodie blind dates (instagram and twitter buddies)  the lovely @nehads12 Neha Shah working with a high profile international bank dashes down from Nariman Point. The well-informed @Gayayadav  Gayatri Yadav, business development manager  drives in from Malad. Dynamic professional, Shilpa Chawla, my loveliest reader past 20 years and author, foodstylist  Chef Michael Swamy  (who works closely with Vikas) shares his take on the food as well. Through it all, inspite of his frenetic two day trip for his new book and hosting a movie premiere, the tall, lovable, down to earth Vikas, our Punjabi munda hugs every one, smiles, laughs incessantly and turns out to be everyones cup of tea.

DÉCOR

Walk into BKC’s gleaming, glass building and zoom up the hi-tech lift to the third floor. The Tea Lounge is plonked in a high-ceilinged open-lobby kind of space. Wooden partitions, a small food counter give it a makeshift look. Innovative lights, posters. WIFI in this small 40 seater space, bathed in natural light during the day.

TEA

A simple, easy to navigate menu of 45 – 50 variants of teas with various blends.From Flavored blacks, white, greens, Oolong to Tisanes, Bubble Tea and chai here. Our vote goes to the “Tea Explorer” ( Rs 250, 4 teas, white, Oolong, International, green and Tisane).Perfect for the beginner. I love the  sensuous Lapsang Souchong (Rs 150) which is infused with smokey flavors by being  smoke-dried over pinewood fires.

Though a bit too sweet, Apple and cinnamon infused  Turkish Red Apple (Rs 95) is good as is  the fruit-filled Mango Taiwanese Bubble Tea (Rs 110 or 130) even though it doesn’t have the tapioca balls. We sip and sample plenty of teas (including the kullad (Rs 70) and the coolers.

All served in glass pitchers with inbuilt infusers,  a timer sand watch,  brewing instructions et al.  Complimentary  cheese straws too.

FOOD

Flavorsome Thai curry, well-made Tea infused Burmese Tea Leaf Salad stand out in the lunch specials.  In the all day menu, it’s the crisp onion bhajias, the simple slice of the pound cake that are worth trying, the rest of the outsourced desserts and a few savories are average or below par.

MINUS POINTS

Inaccessible, third floor location in the Capital Building (but a plus point for those working here) Dry, lackluster sandwich, muffins lack chocolate, Flavorful but soggy Tea biscuits, gelatinous  blueberry cheesecake, lemon tart encased in a hard shell. The tall, cool lemon and mint iced tea disappoints as does the slow service. Shilpa never got her order of Japanese tea inspite of requesting for it through the evening. My favorite Japanese Genmaicha and Gyokuro teas are not on the menu.

MY TRIED, TESTED AND TASTED VERDICT

Sniff, swirl, sip and spit…Ive done many a tea tasting sessions around the world and been romancing tea forever. So when Tea centre opened in Churchgate decades ago I was over the moon. I came to Tea Trails with joy and expectation. Happy that the dynamic Kavita and Uday Mathur’s  passion for tea spills over and they have taken care to ensure accurate brewing (timer et al) and serve up a flavor of world teas as well as our chai. Not exactly a gourmet tea lounge (a few  rare teas could’ve been added)  Food needs to be finetuned as does the service, but these could be just teething troubles. Open through the day till 7pm, I welcome this Tea Lounge…  ideal for chai and gupshup for tea lovers in the vicinity or should I say vicinitea?

TEA TRAILS, The Capital, Bandra Kurla Complex.

Ph 40050115

Open 9am to 7pm

Average spend Rs 600 for 2.

RATING

FOOD 2.5 TEA 3.5 SERVICE 3 DÉCOR 3


 

MY HUNT HAS BEGUN

I’ve been tweeting and instagraming for Home dessert makers for the Times Food Guide 2015 . Wow! What a response. Thanks a million. Will be inviting you for my “Whats hot” Tasting sessions so if you want to be included please mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter, instagram @rashmiudaysingh,