Juhu is the latest. Bangkok, Hong Kong, China, Tokyo, Manila, London and now Mumbai. Mango Tree put down it’s roots in Hotel Horizon, in March this year. As a rule, I’m wary of chain restaurants. So did a thorough and systematic check out over two meals spread over three months.
Read my full review in today’s Bombay Times.
Global progressive Indian
I’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.
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.
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 .
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 email@example.com, tweet or instagram (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours
I’m rejoicing. Countless new restaurants are opening up and their baby steps are being dissected by even more countless food bloggers, twitterati, instagrammers and more. It’s a good sign that we are truly involved with our food. It was not like this when I started writing about food thirty years ago. Then food writing was considered unfashionable. Thankfully, things are getting better.
“Wont you take me to honky taoooownnnn” blares as I walk into the first floor of this small heritage building (built by a French architect), nudged right next to Sterling cinema. I walk past the ground floor café area into the charming, high-ceilinged, wooden-beamed, tiny, dimly-lit, olive green-walled bar with posters.
Townhouse Café doesn’t encourage you to take mincing bites of measured portions. It exhorts you to dig in to it’s comfort food. To crunch into it’s perfectly deep-fried dishes (great accompaniments to alcohol) be it the Golden Fried Panko Crusted Mushrooms or the bucket of deep fried squid and prawns. Plenty of pasta dishes, half the menu is vegetarian (do ask for the well-made Scallion Crepes and Aubergine Red Pepper Sandwich). While leaving, I bump into owner Anuja Jatkar and her foodie passion and that of her young team shines through, two particularly good fish dishes – the Fish and Chips Burger (crispy fish patty, velvetty tartar sauce within soft buns) and Perfectly Grilled Basa (lemony buttery sauce). Okayish brownie with ice-cream. Go to tipple, imported draughts and interesting cocktails (try fresh coconut water mojito). Check the happy hours.
Only one dessert on menu. Some dishes on menu are not available. No pork belly or pork belly sliders available. Scrambled truffled eggs are soggy and not enough truffle oil.
I was happily surprised by the charming European Townhouse ambiance and comfort fare here.
Plenty of deep-fried comfort fare, but there’s a balance between heartiness and delicacy and plenty for vegetarians. Charming ambiance, comfort food at comforting prices. If in the vicinity, its the perfect open all day, neighbourhood bar.
Meal for two: RS 1,800 approx
16, Murzban Road, near Strerling Cinema, Fort.
Timings 12 pm – 1:30 am
Call 022-2203 7356