Comforting, quirky, cheerful. Nudged into cacophonic Fort, this two-levelled café is an oasis of calm.
Read my detailed review on whatshot.in
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.
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.
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.
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
Open 12 noon till 01:30am
RATING FOOD 3 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
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Vegetarian Burmese and Tea salon
It’s largely pleasurable. It’s satisfying. It gets our unanimous vote. It does so not only because like our brand new Prime Minister “ vegetarian chhe” but because this 2 week old, brand new Burmese (hold your breath) pure vegetarian eatery deserves it. The arguments about authenticity (Burmese cuisine is predominantly non vegetarian) could go on forever. But what comes to the table delivers pleasant surprises.And bowls over the dyed-in-the-drool gorgeous vegetarian gourmet Mandira Bedi. She’s so magnetized by this vegetarian arrival, that she makes time from her TV shows, corporate events, charity work and designing stunning sarees to drive across town to dine here. The other committed and well-traveled vegetarian gourmet is the London based hot shot lawyer Sunil Sheth, who heads up the most unique international charity (Princess Anne, grand patron) for those with the double disability of being deaf-blind. He is here in India to expand charitable activities. And the ever-helpful Mandira gives him many a brilliant suggestion over a fun-dinner.
Walk past the bar (No! alcohol, please note) into the earthy-wooden-toned room which has skilful patches of vibrant color. From (backlit) parasols hanging upside (on the ceiling),a wall with a “Prayer Wheel”, splotches of color of Burmese laquerware et al. Free wifi, and a TV screen too. Not super fancy, but thankfully not overcute thematic either.
Never mind if they don’t use the Burmese cuisine’s predominant non vegetarian ingredients, fish oil et al. They coax masterful flavors from Chilli oil, onions, garlic coconut and Burmese spice mix Yessa. The must trys? Salads …crunchy with Achow nuts and tangy with chilli oil and lemon. Be it the zingy ginger salad, the chatpatta raw mango or the fermented tea leaf laphet salad.
Flavorsome thin peppery broth and the “samuza hincho” baby samosas dunked with carrot cabbage and capsicum, are delightful. The two young, dynamic Marwari owners,Ankit Gupta and Chirag Chhajer ensure that every last detail is perfect.
In the mains, go for the uniquely tasty creamy coconutty rice with the contrast of peanut tomato chutney. The ever popular (originally breakfast dish) oh no (Burmese for coconut) Khao suey coconut curry with noodles and condiments (fried garlic, onions, nimbu etc) just about passes muster and could do with more punch. Mandira is particularly thrilled with the Red Velvet, and the large wedges of tasty desserts from Sanah Ahuja’s Crumbilicious.
The biggest let downs are the stuffed doughy, hard buns (Paukse). Okayish Pyan Boo Palata (paratha) with a corn coconutty mash. Hard tofu stir fried with tofu and lacklustre Burmese Falooda too. It can get noisy and there is no alcohol.
This mid-priced (Rs 1500 for 2) new Fort eatery distils the spirit of Burma in it’s earthy, wooden interiors. Though not authentic to this low impact cuisine’s non veg fundamentals, it still serves up deliciously surprising textural contrasts and flavors in it’s vegetarian spread. It pays great attention to detail (imports sunflower seeds, teas to chopsticks). The soups and salads (love them) score over the mains. It is a winner, but will this new Tea salon and vegetarian eatery (like our vegetarian Prime Minister) continue to deliver? I toast it with my favorite cup of “Monkey picked Oolong tea” and surely hope so.
INSTAGRAM AND TWITTER FEEDBACK
Thanks for flooding me with feedback on this 2 week old Burma Burma. @chingypatel (“loved it” “the tealeaf salad is an acquired taste in the beginning, but grows on you”) @panktiv (“loved the tealeaf salad…said its like Burmese bhel” (I agree) @meau01 (“Very inexpensive”)@mohidkadri (“yummy and so tasty salad”) @elisha_saigal (“food is good. Fresh ingredients and knowledge rich staff” “but after serving the main course they go into a lull as though dreaming of scuba diving in Myanmar” ) @chingypatel (“BurmaBurma rocks”) @foodcookeat (“that sounds awesome”) @nsonal tells @hspicture (lets go there).
Look forward to even more feedback from you…as you can see its invaluable.
BURMA BURMA Kothari House
Off M. G. Road
Near Allana Centre Fort
Open lunch and dinner
Meal for 2 (Rs 1500 per head)
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
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