restaurant review

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: NUTCRACKER

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Multi-cuisine

I raise a toast with the unique “breakfast in a bottle” along with my guests (please see photo). We re in the week old café “Nutcracker” and we’re celebrating the legendary 86 year young Padmashree Dr RP Soonawala’s forthcoming prestigious Dhanvantari  award (conferred on the likes of Dr Christian Bernard) . Internationally and nationally recognised for his medical inventions and pioneering Family Planing work, the lovable doc has delivered the nation including Juhi Chawla and Jay Mehta’s daugher. The dapper gourmet Jay and RP share over a decade of friendship, passion for cars, food, chocolates and perfection. Though busy with his national and interntional businesses (including restauranting) Jay takes time off to dine at the worlds finest Michelin starred restaurants and the small homestyle ones (like he does today).  He is a pure vegetarian.  “Nutcracker” serves pure vegetarian food too.

 

 

DÉCOR

It’s seriously small. Sits cheek by jowl with Ayub’s Kababwalla in the Kala Ghoda area. Charming in a rustic unfinished way, (three yellow stools suspended on the wall, cardboard framed mirrors et al ) oldworld art deco tiled flooring.

FOOD

Homestyle vegetarian: all day breakfast (go for the Parsi eggs with salli, yum Parsi Akuri, the cracked wheat and barley upma) Burgers & sandwiches ( chunky black bean with garlic mayo has a satisfying bite, home made barbecue sauce on the cheese one delights, classic grilled cheese sandwich deliciously oozes cheese). Healthy options too (Must try the delicious breakfast in a bottle… The Asian Salad.  )

Ask for the square wedge of “Seven Layer Cookie,” (chocolate, biscuit crumbs, almond flakes et al) and the dense yet light Belgian chocolate cake.

MINUS

No booking policy has us waiting. It was packed and the bare room amplified noise levels. No wine or beer in this café. Some of the dishes gloopy (sliders with egg and pesto) lacklustre (buttermilk  pancakes). No  Eggs Florentine or egg Parfait available today. Oversweet French toast.

 

MY POINT

This open through the day, pure vegetarian (eggs included) cafe redefines family-run and homestyle (even the sauces are home made). It follows in the footsteps of “Kala Ghoda café” Pantry” “Teapot café” but is even more homespun. I have a big, fat, soft spot for family run restaurant and this one has the chartered accountant turned restaurateur Anahita Bafna cooking, her sister serving and her investment banker husband helping out too. Together they have delivered Nutcracker. Sure! it is a new born and still needs to find it’s feet. But we (who better than world renowned obs-gynae Dr RP Soonawala) welcome this bonny new baby!

 

The Nutcracker, opposite One Forbes Building, VB Gandhi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Ph 22842430, Rs 1600 meal for two.

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

Review: FAT MAN’S CAFE

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European

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I really do value your views and recommendations. I am not only constantly requesting for them via email, twitter and instagram but also reach out to you (by inviting you to dine with me on blind dates). And today’s restaurant review is an example of what I love to do … walk up to diners and request their views (and photograph them, like today). The reason is simple,  your views reflect  accurate unbiased experiences and   help me keep a finger on the pulse of the city. Also inspite of my taking extreme care (booking under a fake name, sending my guests ahead to order) if I am recognised, then the whole experience changes. So getting the views of the diners already eating in the restaurant is invaluable. Like these of the lovely, lively diners… Rakhi Samptani,  Jayshree Adtani. Reshma Adtani Aradhana Singh, Chandni Tolani

Dr Mohsin Thanawala and  Dr Anushree Shiralkar

The review that follows incorporates all our views.

DÉCOR

The interestingly named “Fat Mans café” crouches between many other tiny eateries on the restaurant strip behind Leelavati hospital. A cheery vibe, cozy white walls, a board with “Fat man’s rules”, pretty patterned tiles and upholstry complete the décor. We like.

FOOD

It’s zigzagging menu goes through breakfast, soup, salad, appetisers, burgers, sliders, pizzas mains and dessert. I ate here twice, the hearty egg bowl framed by a rustic blend of creamed spinach and herbed tomato sauce,  has improved. A tasty grilled tomato pesto sandwich, Beef sandwich enlivened with caramleised onions,  al dente Fettucine, okayish Grilled chicken, here. Ask for the well-made chargrilled chicken burger (fried egg et al)  Black white mousse cake, refreshing orange cream slice, Dark Chocolate Mousse Cup are delightful.

 

MINUS POINTS

Slow. Agonisingly slow service . My favorite Eggs Bendict  served on bread, sans sauce hollaindaise. Styrofoam like potato mash with the grilled chicken, overcooked mushrooms, lacklustre pancakes,

jacket potatoes overloaded with a slushy cheese. Soggy, apple crumble.

MY POINT

We all love the name of this tiny café. The cheery, white-walled ambiance too. Open through the day, eggs,  sandwich, burger kind of menu here. The opinion is unanimous that though not exceptional or outstanding,  most of the dishes are tasty, generously portioned and moderately priced. I ate here twice and the food had defintiely improved . However, at all times, the service was slow. The side-effect of being called “Fat man’s café”?

Fat Mans Café, shop No.9
ONGC Building No.3
Near Lilavati Hospital
Bandra (West)

2640 2053

Open 11am to 12.30am

AV MEAL FOR 2: Rs 1500

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 2 DÉCOR 3.5

 

Review: KOLKATTA CALLING

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Lunching with the genius Dr Bhabatosh and Naina Sahu at Kolkatta Calling
Lunching with the genius Dr Bhabatosh and Naina Sahu at Kolkatta Calling

Bengali, chinese, North indian

I love Kolkatta and also Calcutta (just got back two days ago).  And so the opening of Andheri East’s “Kolkatta Calling” has   me and the charming Naina and Dr Bhabatosh Sahu  very excited. We not only have a long discussion on Bengali food (he cooks brilliantly) but I am floored by the fact that this genius did not complete school (studied till the ninth standard) but went on to complete his Masters in H.R. Phd in management (from prestigious institutes), is a professor in IIM. Fellow in Wharton and heads up a cutting edge company  which is driven by high end chemistry and makes building blocks for DNA/ RNA, I love these happy ending stories, does our restaurant review have on?.

DÉCOR

Frayed copies of “The adventures of Tin Tin” (in Bengali, please note)   nakshi pakhas (traditional hand fans), Tagore poetry scrawled on walls…make up the décor. Old Bengali songs resound in the in the very rustic small eatery with it’s benches, Pepsi fridge and  wall clock.

We bought some of the popular Kolkata-based farsan brand Mukharochak (kept in a shelf for sale)

FOOD

Bengali, Chinese and North Indian fare here. Stick to the Bengali starters (chops, cutlets and rolls) in the appetiser section. My favourites Bekti paturi  and prawn malai curry have just the right balance of texture and flavour. The succulent mutton in the robustly curry Thakur Barir Pathar Mangsho

just about passes muster. MINUS POINTS

Skip  the Gobi Manchurian and Chilly Chicken on the menu.Avoid the  dry and tasteless Kobiraja, as also the  Cholar dal. Sadly there was no  Radhaballabi or   mochar ghanto.  Very sadly too the sweets were dry and tasteless be it the rossogulla or the Payesh.

MY POINT

Rustic ambiance in the small eatery tucked into Andheri East’s crammed streets. Okayish and moderately priced (Rs 1000 meal for two) Bengali fare with disappointing mishti. Maybe it was just an off day for them, so I am making plans to go back with my Bengali gourmet buddy Kalyan Karmakar (@finelychopped) meanwhile do share your experiences with me (rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com, twitter and instagram @rashmiudaysingh)

Plot No.285
Near Sher-E-Punjab Colony and Tolani College of Commerce
Andheri (East)

2836 8733

Open noon to 3.30pm, 6pm to 11.30pm

RATING 3 DECOR 3 SERVICE 3.5

Review: Spice Klub

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North Indian. Molecular Gastronomy.

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Taaza Khabar: A month old pure vegetarian Indian restaurant goes the Molecular gastronomy way. I was lucky enough to have dined at Ferran Adria, Spanish wizard’s El Bulli (it is now shut) and also at the  London’s Fat Duck, Spain’s “El Celler de can Roca”,  Stockholm’s Oaxen where I was blown by each one’s amazing creations using cutting edge scientific techniques, ingredients and methods to make the familiar look unfamiliar and vice versa. The question always remains: does this unlikely transmogrification of ingredients and other cerebral shenanigans taste good or not?

DÉCOR

This Lower Parel 100 seater restaurant seems to have been kept deliberately non descript ( semi-industrial fit-out with exposed brick walls) to keep the focus on food.

FOOD

Ever had a vada pao which has a mousse aerated by infusing nitrogen in it?chutney in edible plastic pouches ? Quivering explosive orbs of papdi chat with coriander chutney foam? Happily, they also taste good. As does the pao bhaji fondue.    The passionately dedicated owner Aditya Gupta studied up and ensures the use of liguid nitrogen, dry ice, dehydrator  a( for  dahi bada and dhokla. Siphon for chilli palak soup, alginate bath and more. Rose caviar partners The chocolate flower pot is filled with rasmalai and saffron mousse and sprinkled with pista chocolate soil. Regular North indian fare marks the mains, be it Paneer Kadai, Veg Kohlapuri, Amritsari vadi aloo or the must try dahi pakodi. Gluten free & multigrain Rotis too.

MINUS POINTS

Some dishes are just gimmicks—and lackluster to taste too. The Pani Puri served in test tubes and syringes, being a case in point. Slushy with masala, Rajma in the mains. The Bubbling kulfi ( liquid nitrogen et al) is all show and no go, with over sweet, synthetic sauces. I just couldn’t get myself to try the soap cake with it’s Dairy foam.  No alcohol.

MY POINT

I commend this pure vegetarian eatery’s efforts ( starters and desserts) at Molecular gastronomy  ensuring  measured eccentricity. These dishes validate the  experimentation and they reflect a thoughtful,  equilibrium between what’s merely edgy and what’s tasty.Not always cutting edge, some dishes tip over into gimmickry. The North Indian mains are predictably comforting and so provide the much needed balance. Jaded vegetarians looking for newness this way please!

SpiceKlub, 8A Janata Industrial Estate, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (W)

Ph 24925544

Open 12 to 4pm 6.30 to midnight.

Meal for two Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3

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.

Review: THE TREESOME CAFÉ

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Fusion

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Here, in rocking Versova ( Oooh! I love Versova) I am bopping around the globe in the ten day old “The Treesome Café”. While the food itinerary is not coherent, the trip is a lot of fun. As our my Versovite guests. Foodies to the core (one is a budding chef) they not only love checking out new restaurants but also live next door to this one. It’s a fun yet inspirational evening, as in these selfish and materialistic times, it is a joy to meet selfless crusaders.

Be it the lovely Natasha Sara owner of an eclectic hair studio (which combines hair fashion with spiritual wellbeing guidance for body mind spirit) Or her friend and brilliant criminal lawyer Suman Prasad. Together, for the past three years, they have taken on the welfare of an abandoned old lady in Versova. The crusading twosome is doing this through the law and government in order to help many other senior citizens in this similar plight. Having trained as a chef, Asmita Prasad gives us her culinary insights to the food here. They all live close by and are sure to be regulars at this new Versova Cafe.

DECOR

Pleasant. A fairly small, boxed in airconditioned area and an alfresco one (total of 1300 sq ft) are done up in casual, relaxed style. Two bars, exposed industrial- pipes look and tree mural on the wall complete the décor.

FOOD & DRINK

Be prepared to get your tastebuds assaulted, cajoled and seduced.Many a bar-bite and very few main courses serve up desi-global innovative flavors. South Indian masala infuses the delicious Rajnikanth omelette, while the butterchicken gives a  spicy charge to the bland risotto.Unerringly cooked plump garlic Barcelona prawns,  thermidor sauce drenched grilled fish delight. Flavorsome Goan prawn curry, chicken cafreal and must try Kheema pav too. Innovatively plated on trays made of grey slate (the dish of  yummy baby burgers is served under a bird cage. Pl see pic). Many a creative cocktail, try the chatpatta Jamun mojito.

MINUS POINTS

Uncomfy seating, big, fat sofas crammed into a small indoor space. Not enough vegetarian options (I am told they are adding to the veggie menu)  Indie steak (paneer and dal makhani) is a mish mash, the bhel lacks zing and the so called Maldivian fish cake Bokiba is lackluster and avoidable. Chewy Chicken

Gangnam Style ( served skewered in four fluted glasses). Stodgy Shroom cupcakes  and the pizza base not crisp enough. No beef  and only one pork dish. No desserts on the menu.

MY POINT

Open through the day, Treesome café (named after the fig tree outside) is more of a bar ( many an innovative cocktail) with many a bar bite.      Although the menu has weak spots, with a few  dishes not from the heart but from a marketing plan, the gifted chef Rohan DSouza’s (who has worked with Marco Pierre White)  cooking is exuberant and  reflects a steady, precise hand.

It’s mostly a mix of pubgrub  stalwarts  comfort foods, pizzas, burgers, bhel, kheema pao et al, creatively served (sometimes over the top). Beyond  bits of mild nonsense and odd affectation are real merit and considerable merriment.  Three cheers! Tree cheers!

THE TREESOME CAFE Jewel Shopping Centre,

Seven Bungalows, Andheri
Ph 60020202

Open noon to 1.30 am

Meal for two: Rs 2000

RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5

 


 

YOUR REVIEWS OF TREESOME CAFÉ

Wow! Each one of you has made such insightful and relevant remarks (on instagram and twitter)  that I wish I could print them all. Sorry space constraints.

‏@andshesmiled1h

(Butterchicken risotto…

Ultimate indo-italian soul food)

mariyakach ( Rajnikant masala omlette is the yummiest. Great ambiance and food)

@waterdaughter1007

(YummmmYummmmYummmm…. And full of tasty fluff)

@npunjabi20

(Can eat yummiest Omlette and burger anytime of the day) @mansidavda

(Tasty Cupcake Shrooms , Orange & Lemon Grass Cooler)

@shyamalb

(Great place!! Amazing food )

The opinion was divided about the presentation (esp bird cage) many found it gimmicky, too loud,  others loved it.

@thebigbhookad@crazyloveshoes@voraviya@tarunkapoor11

@meghasarin @chicorychai@ekazloveatfirstbite

@yasmeengindodiya@antarazandc

@purplefoodie@mamatha_1@romakripalani

@cookingfiesta1  @ila_ii@ankitawagle

Thanks for your feedback @karanrajkohli @riotofflavours

@ankitawagle @simranimita @rajvi85

@pereiraaaron@d_diane@the_locamojo @shunzie

@vivekmittal23@poonampalnitkar

@saurabhhmehtalol@saumightsay

@dubai_fo0d @arunkatiyar

value your feedback. Instagram and twitter @rashmiudaysingh mail rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com. Waitingly yours