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.
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.
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
Vegetarian bakery, patisserie and cafe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Open 9.30 am to 11.30 pm
RATING FOOD 3 DÉCOR 3.5 SERVICE 3.5
Meal for 2: Rs 800
Jai Ho Japanese! While my favourite “Narisawa” (Tokyo) continues to reign supreme as Asia’s best, Aamchi Mumbai has adapted to this cuisine surprisingly well too. From the Northern end, especially Bandra (Kofuku, Aoi) to the dagger-shaped southern tip. Here Taj’s Wasabi has been holding it’s own past ten years, Tetsuma came along to stake a claim but gave way to the Mediteranean Pier. Now once again (four months ago) a Japanese restaurant reared its head in Colaba, And that too with an elaborate menu. So I do an elaborate check out, eat here twice. Once for lunch ( Rs 5000 for 2) , and then again with a foodie family ( I pay around Rs 20,000).
Bela & Micky Dalal– affable, well-travelled foodies, lovers of the simplicity & sereneity of their rustic Alibag home along with their dapper sons and the lovely Nishita Murarka dine and opine for me.
New age entrepreneur Rohan Dalal’s unique subscription based home delivery service that provides medicinal, nutritional and daily care products across greater Mumbai is in huge demand.
Talented and handsome Jay Dalal, works at one of India’s premier consultancies plans to venture into the digital market and as DJ continues to rock his New York tunes across town.
Dedicated to fitness (Bela – yoga & fitness enthusiast) the whole family are dyed in the drool foodies and we systematically eat our way through the menu.
Walk into Colaba’s latest Japanese restaurant and be charmed by its rich yet understated elegance. Copper lattice-work columns, Italian chandeliers, opulent leather and suede sofas with chrome-and-wood tables and the textured stonework sushi and cocktail bar. Dramatic bright lighting and a birdcage table at one corner makes for a perfect setting for the food that follows.
“To die for” sushi “Oh my God sushi” …sounds gimmicky but most of it is actually all about innovative drama. Rolls set on fire, buried under heaps of crushed tempura, spider rolls, others that look like a caterpillar and so on. Through it all, they retain their texture and
flavour and play to popular tastes with cream cheese, mayo, et al. James Biaka consultant chef here (ex Tetsuma and now Kofuku, Hengbok) ensures there is succulent pork belly, Buta-No-Shogakaki sliced pork intensely flavoured with ginger and soya sauce on the menu. Looking for a more expensive
experience? Ask for the superb Miso Black Cod. Plenty for vegetarians…flavourful Mushroom Rice(Hot Pot Rice with Bop Sauce)Edamame Dip, Veg Kimchi Soup, Quinoa Salad and Avocado Dragon Roll. End with the Vanilla Panna Cotta and Butterscotch with the perfect kiss of sweetness.
In an effort to bend over backwards to please all palates, some of the sushi rolls tip over into too much of a crunchy, saucy mish mash. Baked sushi roll,
Mountain Crunchy Roll being cases in point. Lacklustre, over-cooked Wasabi Chicken, over-salted Tofu Grilled Asparagus and thick-skinned Mochi dessert. The “chefs specials” have small portions and high prices (Rs 2000 and more per dish).
Traditional as well as fusion Japanese fare served in the dynamic and lovely Agarwal sister’s Saizen ( means ‘best’ in Japanese) Interestingly, this restaurant has two price structures while the sushi (`450–600) and many of the dishes are affordably priced, the Chef’s Specials like the Black Cod Miso are priced at over `2,000 each.
Vegetarians and Jains are very well taken care (quinoa salad, plenty of sushi et al)
By bringing inventive cooking and a few high-end grace notes Saizen answers the desires of a generation of savvy, adventurous diners (also vegetarians and Jains) looking for affordable, accessible Japanese fare.
■ 41/42, Minoo Desai Marg, Behind Radio Club, Colaba, Mumbai, Ph: 65081100
Noon to 3pm, 7pm to 11.45pm
Food-4.00 | Service-3.50 | Decor-4.00 | Meal for 2-`4000-8000
YOUR INSTAGRAM & TWITTER RESPONSES
Wow! Thanks for your reponses, i have incorporated them in my review. @garimaaj @duhitachadha
@jigarparmar and many others. Sorry cant include all names here but value each one’s views. Keep them coming please!
Two joyous whoops! Double celebration time! A shiny brand new 2015 (I wish you miracles!) . And more of my dreams come true as I discover some amazing talent that creates magic out of home. Ive been finding different ways and means of tracking talent that hums out of home kitchens (so I can include it in our very own Times Food Guides) and this time I find it when I happen to pop in to the dynamic entrepreneur Shaan Khanna’s Spicy Sangria gathering. It’s at the elegant and stylish Mana Suneil Shetty’s fabulous home store which is buzzing with great food and unique flavours. Heres a taste…
Nidhi Gadia’s waffles
How about some mobile pleasure food? Waffles on a stick. Waffle House specialises in a wide variety of Waffles. The charming Nidhi Gadia is already well loved for her sweet as well as Savoury waffles along with mobile pleasure food – Waffle Sticks ! : +919820026511
Instagram& Twitter: @wafflehouse_in
Raashi’s The Picnik Basket
Make your life into a picnic… add oomph to your table with onion marmalade, slow-roasted bruschetta, cranberry mustard,chocolate peanut butter..or whip up a gourmet meal in minutes with thai curry paste, flavoured mayo’s, marinara & barbecue sauce! The gifted Raashi Sawhney also makes hampers and gifts and more.
Shweta & Sanya’s Teacharmers
Amazing fragrance and flavors.Superb packaging too. The lovely Shweta and Sanya of Teacharmers have a exclusive range of exotic blooming tea from all around world such as rose,chyrsthameus as well as pyramid silken teabags for the ultimate tea experience .
Shweta/sanya -9821532699/+91 98-70-061617
Nitika and Minnie’s Cocoa Bean
Chocoholics this way please! The talented Nitika and Minnie serve up an array of the most intense and flavourful sweet delights. Cocoa Bean – Their desserts are all about taste and texture!!! Highly recommended are the malakoffs and truffles.
Minnie mehra 9833079217
Srikanta & Neha’s Open Table
Try Open Table’s delicious fresh dips – from a Layered Lebanese Dip to Sundried Tomato Dip, everyone has a favourite! Essence and color-free Cooler concentrates (Simply Rose and their Ginger Lemon Appetizer) Prices: approximately Rs 200 for a box of dip, Rs 220 for a 550 ml concentrate bottle.
Srikanta Taparia 9819592278 Neha Chokhani 9820133487.
Amrita Diwanji…Food Photographer
A photographer with a great passion for food, the brilliant Amrita Diwanji has
shot for Ellipsis, Cheval, & Burgs.
+91 98205 48700
Rohan’s Pack a Pav
In his time off from work, Rohan Mangalorkar potters around in the kitchen whipping up yummy recipes (his mothers) that typically involve bread, meat, and inventive condiments. Tasty, juicy homemade mutton shammi kebabs, chicken seekh kebabs, and veg shammi kebabs sandwiched between fluffy pavs.
Pack-a-Pav, a stall that pops up at food festivals and can be called for your next party catering too. “This works well at sundowners or parties that need bread to soak the alcohol,” says Rohan.We agree!
Sanjnaa’s Ellipsis Bakery
Brownies, cupcakes red velvet Oreo and chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked breads…the gifted Sanjnaa Talwar of Ellipsis gives a sneak peek of their about to open standalone bakery in Worli. “It is a month or two away” she says, but trials are on …give us this day, our daily bread!
This talented young home baker, sources the finest of ingredients and take orders only on weekends. She specialises in customised fondant cakes, cupcakes, macarons, cookies, cake pops, brownies, cheesecakes. And if you are looking for eggless, she has those for you as well.
P.S. You’ll find ALL the above and much much more in your very own Times Food Guide 2015 (the “caterers and dessert makers” volume). Should you wish to be part of the Times Food Guide 2016 and this column please email@example.com, instagram, twitter @rashmiudaysingh waitingly yours…