Not only are the number of hotels increasing in Bombay but also the number of five-star restaurants attached to them.

There was a time when the only hotel restaurant in Bombay was the rendezvous: it was on the ground floor of the old Taj, where the Habour Bar is now, an entrance from the street and no air-conditioning. At least, I presume there was no airconditioning, because the windows were open and from one of the windows you could see a notice, prominently displayed and announcing: “South Africans not admitted.”

Once I had got hold of a menu of the Rendezvous and the omelet was priced at Rs. 8, which I thought was daylight robbery. In those days, people used such quaint phrases as daylight robbery, now they say-rip-off, which, I think, is much more expressive.

The now demolished Green’s (where the Taj International has been set up) had an Indian restaurant called Gulmarg. It was decorated in bad taste, like a wedding pandal of the very rich, and the food was sleshy, too many raisins and cashewnuts. People would say: “See, what I told you! Taj can’t cook Indian food.” (Now, of course, the group’s Gulzar has the best Indian food in the country, definitely a restaurant all foreigners should be taken to.)

The Sea Lounge was always there and always as it is now, except possibly that it had a few more potted palms. In the afternoons, Indian industrialists – some of them- would sit in the padded chairs of the Sea Lounge, after lunch at the ballaroom, light their cigars and fall asleep. Now in the afternoons, Gujarati families come to show their daughters to green card holders from America who have come to India to get married through the matrimonial columns of The Times of India. I wonder where do those green card holders who get married through the matrimonial columns of The Hindustan Times go. Probably to Birla House or Lodhi Gardens.

There was also the Majestic Hotel at Museum, now the MLAs Hostel. Where the Sahakari Bhandar is now, there was a restaurant with cane chairs, ceilings fans, turbaned waiters serving chotta pegs of whisky-pani. I never stepped in, of course. So I cannot give more details.

The Ambassador had The Other Room, a French restaurant which those who knew about food, including D. F. Karaka, swore was the best restaurant in town. They still say that about the Ambgassador’s Society.

And the Ritz had The Little Hunt, an Italian speciality restaurant. Which was another good restaurant. And the Ritz has also carried on its Italian tradition.

But these were all the hotel restaurants in Bombay, partly because these were all the hotels in Bombay. Now there is a whole collection of them, a restaurant to choose every day of the month, or, at least, three weeks. Only most people cannot afford them. I can’t I could not afford the old Rendezvous where the omelet was Rs. 8 and I cannot afford the present Rendezvous where the omelet is Rs. 38.

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January 31, 2010

Sunset cocktails, midnight mezzes and chilled-out beats into the early hours define Aer, the newest addition to Mumbai’s social scene, set to open December 11, 2009. What really sets this oasis of chic relaxation apart is its mind-blowing open-air location – 34 floors above the bustling streets of Worli.

Covering the entire rooftop of Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, Aer offers panoramic city and sea views and an endless ceiling of sky and stars, creating an atmosphere that redefines the notion of freedom.

“It takes your breath away,” explains Aer’s manager, Shaijo Rajan. “There’s nowhere else like it in the city. You are so high up, you feel as though you have been transported to a different place. All you can see is the sea and the lights of Mumbai spread out like a blanket beneath you.”

This sense of space is complemented by an avant-garde design that is both contemporary and minimalist. The design team – including names such as Bob Bilkey, Oscar Llynas, Nozer Wadia, Ritu Nanda, Elsie Nanji and Annalisa Beliettati – has combined black and white, the yin and yang of design, to create luminous appeal.

The forms of a series of Tokyo pop furniture by Driade were the inspiration for the seamless jigsaw shapes of the bar’s white outdoor furniture, and organic industrial designer Ross Lovegrove’s Love Bench makes a statement at the entrance. The overall design is punctuated with hints of drama to effortlessly bridge the indoors and outdoors.

The high-energy lounge is kept abuzz by a house DJ playing nightly sets of modern Indian lounge music. Professionally trained bartenders keep the vibe going at the bar, mixing exclusive – and even personalised – blends of fresh fruit and champagne cocktails alongside an eclectic menu of wines and champagnes by the glass. During the sunset-friendly hours of 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm each night, champagne and cocktails are available for approximately half price.

Dining is equally inspiring, with the emphasis on plates for sharing – an innovative selection of hot and cold Lebanese and Middle Eastern dips, Mediterranean tapas and international favourites.

The bar itself may be cooled by refreshing breezes, but the service is firmly focused on creating the warmest of welcomes and an easy, inviting ambience.

“Aer is anything but pretentious,” says Rajan. “Ultimately, it’s somewhere to relax with good friends and enjoy the freedom of feeling on top of the world.”

Aer will be open daily from 5:30 pm to 1:30 am with a maximum seating capacity of 80. For advance group reservations for a minimum of 10 guests, please contact 91 (22) 2481-8900.
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Indulge yourself in true Italian flavours as Bluefoods launches with its fourth and largest Spaghetti Kitchen outlet in India at Powai, Mumbai. The new outlet is the largest Spaghetti Kitchen outlet in India and sprawls across 5000 square feet of space.

Spaghetti Kitchen with Bill Marchetti, the celebrity chef as its consultant chef, brings to Powai Italy’s fine Cuisine that will tantalise the taste buds of one and all. With the opening in Powai, Mumbai can now taste the magic of Italy in three different locations – Phoenix Mills, CR2 Mall and Powai.

Spaghetti Kitchen is located in the busy Hiranandani Gardens which is the hub of corporate and residential crowds. The outlet is hard to miss with Spaghetti Kitchen signature branding and delightful décor. The restaurant will serve customers scrumptious Italian delicacies including the famous Paremesan Cheese Potatoes, Penne Vodka, a wide range of authentic thin crust Pizzas, Lasagnes, Rissotos, along with the choicest collection of spirits that will satiate your soul. Finish of sumptuous meal with signature desserts like Tiramsu & Triple Chocolate Biscotti.

Commenting on the launch of the new Spaghetti Kitchen outlet, Chef Bill Marchetti says, “With the launch of Spaghetti Kitchen in Powai we offer our customer an extensive Italian menu that includes our signature dishes and a warm and inviting ambience. We look forward to tantalizing the taste buds of all the Italian lovers in Powai”.

So some along and fall in love with the new Spaghetti Kitchen at Powai; Truly Italian!!!

Spaghetti Kitchen is located at Hiranandani Gardens, 103 Ventura Park, IT Building, Above Aromas Café, Opp D Mart, Powai, Mumbai- 400 076

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In addition to Movenpick and TGIF, Paladium will soon have a Manchester United Cafe, Punjab Grill & The Comedy Store.

Gallops dying a slow death

January 7, 2010

Looks like Gallops may soon be closing down with the Turf Club canceling their contract. Guests are now being charged between 60 and 125 to enter Gallops by Turf Club. There is some more news about Gallops going to court about the whole issue.

The battle between the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) and South Mumbai’s famous Gallops restaurant seems to get murkier as the latter has threatened to move the Bombay High Court citing contempt of court orders. The RWITC on Monday published a public notice informing the termination of the contract of Gallops restaurant that is situated at Mahalaxmi Race Course.

Following several alleged irregularities including awarding of the contract to run the restaurant, the RWITC had terminated the BJR group’s agreement in December, 2009. While RWITC chairman (marketing and media) Vivek Jain confirmed that contract has been terminated, he said the restaurant is still open for members and their guests.

However, the BJR group, which had filed a case against RWITC in the small causes court regarding fixing of standard rent for using the premises, has now threatened to move the Bombay High Court.

“The small causes court had issued a stay in the matter stating that no person can be stopped from entering Gallops and the restaurant shall get uninterrupted supply of electricity. However, the RWITC has been stopping non-members who are not guests from coming to Gallops and the electricity supply has also been disconnected on several occasions,” said Mohanbir Singh, lawyer for BJR’s group. “The RWITC has violated the court orders and we will be filing a case in the High Court.”

Gallops has also refused to pay the annual rent of Rs 3.25 crore to RWITC.

The BJR group has been running the restaurant since 1986 and mired in controversy after the BMC objected to the agreement between RWITC and BJR. According to the BMC, since RWITC was a lessee it had no rights to ‘sub-lease’ portions of the BMC-owned land to another group, without its formal approval. The BMC alo alleged that Gallops had made illegal extensions without civic body’s permission.

Mumbai: The Gallops restaurant at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse is now almost out-of-bounds for the public. The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), which manages the racecourse, has imposed restrictions on access to the restaurant.

As per a circular issued by the club’s managing committee on December 23, those who are not members of the RWITC have to have pay an entry fee even to visit the restaurant. From Monday to Thursday, the fee is Rs60 per person; on Friday and Saturday it is Rs125.

Restrictions have also been placed on the parking of cars within the racecourse premises.

RWITC chairman Vivek Jain said the restrictions were imposed for reasons of security. “We have been advised to increase security at the racecourse,” he said. “It will not affect the restaurant.” But the BJR Group, which runs the restaurant, called the new measures a “deliberate harassment tactic”.

The restaurant management and the club authorities have been at loggerheads for a while now. Citing payment defaults and failure to rectify illegalities identified by the BMC, the club has already terminated the restaurant’s contract. The decision has been challenged by BJR in court. The two sides are embroiled in not one but three legal cases.

MBS & Co, advocates for BJR, termed the restrictions a violation of the directives issued by the small causes court on November 23, 2009. “The court had asked the status quo to be maintained,” a representative of the firm said. Claiming that the restrictions are affecting its clientele, the BJR Group has decided to file a contempt petition against the club in the Bombay high court.

According to the MBS representative, the club illegally disconnected power supply to the restaurant on three separate occasions after issuing the circular. He also alleged that no such restrictions were imposed on two other restaurants — Olive and Tote — and on parties organised in the members’ enclosure.
Jain, however, said the other two restaurants were not on the club’s premises. He said the same security measures were being followed for parties.

While going through some old pictures I had lying around in my cupboard, I came across this program for what I think is an annual function of a school. There is some information on the school but more importantly, the program is filled with advertisements from restaurants around Mumbai. I apologize for the length of this post but I do hope you will enjoy the advertisements. Some of these restaurants are still open. has announced the list of winners of their awards. Among the winners are Chef Soumya Goswami of the Oberoi, New Delhi and Kunal Chaun Food & Beverage Manager of the Leela in Gurgaon. Congratulations.

Don Giovanni in Worli closed.

December 31, 2009

A few days ago I wrote a post on Don Giovanni’s new Juhu location. I was t Atria today to eat at their Worli branch but was sad to see that it had closed down.

I guess Tendulkar’s is dead with Three Flight’s Up occupying the space Tendulkar’s used to occupy. I remember the buzz Tendulkar’s created when it first opened – I liked the whole idea of putting a little logo mentioning Sachin’s favourite food on the menu. The passage leading to the restaurant was supercool as was the projector clock and cricket ball wall. They even had a pretty nice shop that sold merchandise. The food wasn’t too bad although I was dissapointed the last time I ate there.

Three Flights Up is a club that my mom has been to and is now being relaunched. I guess it has its place in Mumbai’s history along with places like Athena & Fire & Ice. My mom still remembers actually having to climb a couple (3 maybe?) flights of steps to get there.There was also a sign for a place called Diva though I have no idea what that is.

Don Giovanni back in Juhu

December 26, 2009

Don Giovanni is one of my favourite restaurants. About a year ago Don Giovanni shifted from Juhu to Worli while the Juhu branch was to be renovated. According to Burrp Don Giovanni is now back in Juhu behind Kings International Hotel. I have no clue where that is and will probably stick to the Worli branch anyways.


December 25, 2009

Last night I finally visited BlueFROG in Parel. Bluefrog claims to be a revolutionary music project blending a venue for live performances, recording studios, a production house and artist management services. I’m not really into live music and haven’t heard too many good things about the food at Bluefrog so I guess I haven’t really found a reason to go to Bluefrog. Jalebee Cartel was playing there last night and that gave me the push I needed to visit Bluefrog at last. Getting to Bluefrog can be quite a pain. We were already pretty late and almost stood to lose our reservation. You need to book a table at Bluefrog unless you want to simply hang out around the bar. Tables need to be booked(especially if a popular artist is playing) Bluefrog is located in a place called Todi & Co. which can easily be confused for Todi Mills. We were lost for about half an hour before finally finding the place. You wouldn’t really be able to find the place unless you really know it as Bluefrog is in a compound and is a bit of a drive down a narrow lane within the compound before you get there. I guess the line up of cars heading in should be a give away.

Anyways coming to ambience – I must say that I’m pretty impressed. The tables are located in little pods with something that looks like a cross between a frog’s feet and lava from a lava lamp – very cool. What is even cooler is that the colour of the ‘lava’ constantly changes and there are even strobe lights in them which can be set to go off.

The walls look like a giant golf ball turned inside out with huge dimples thoughout. The ceiling still has the roof from the mill except that there are a bunch of projectors that project some really trippy visualizations onto the roof. There is a dance floor in the front of the stage with the table pods at progressively higher levels as you move towards the bar which is at the end of the venue. There is another smalled ‘pod’ bar on the dance floor – a nice touch I think. As you can tell I am really impressed with the design and layout of the venue. Small details like the sloped tops of the pods ensure that people don’t leave their bottles lying around (which can break and really hurt someone)  as well as the the perfect lighting ensuring that you can see what you’re eating without getting disturbed by the light really adds to the place .  It looks like a lot of thought has gone into designing the venue.

Now for the not so good part about Bluefrog – the food. Food is usually the main event wherever I go but since Bluefrog isn’t really about the food I guess I’ll let this one slide. The food isn’t horrible or anything, I’d say its about OK. I had Bluefrog’s burger which they claim is famous. We also ordered a lamb shank and a couple of pastas which were again just about acceptable. The situation really tanked when I was told that they didn’t serve Kingfisher. They have a couple of imported beers on their menu but due to some sponsorship issue we had to chose between Tuborg and Carlsberg – both from a bottle. For deserts we ordered Tiramisu and something called chocolate three new ways. Both deserts were a bit better than the food (with the Tiramisu doing a little better than the chocolate dish) though still nothing to get excited about. The food scores horribly on the value scale as well. Overall I wouldn’t reccoment having anything at Bluefrog other than a couple of drinks. Eat elsewhere before heading here.

Service however was good and even though the place got a bit busy it wasn’t impossible to get a waiter’s attention. Our pod was right next to the service pod so I’m not sure if this is a fair assesment. Our waiter however was polite, friendly and well informed so I don’t really have any complaints.

The main attraction however remains the music. Bluefrog has a regularly updated website with a calendar that lists events. They have also started a section where they release podcasts and interviews which gives you a chance to listen to artists who play at the venue. I believe Bluefrog hosts artists from various genres and so I guess there is something for everyone. Mumbai really needed a Bluefrog and I’m glad that we finally have one. I apologize for the quality of the pictures but its the best my poor cellphone could do.

PS – BlueFROG has an excellent website. The site has an event calendar, podcast section, menu, and virtual tour of the venue.

Here are a couple of crap quality videos to go with the crap quality pictures.

I’m sorry about all the Powai posts but here’s more Powai news. Spaghetti Kitchen is coming to Powai soon. I’m not sure where yet but I guess it should be somewhere one Central Avenue.

Gloria Jean’s Coffee house has recently opened up in Powai. I guess Australian coffee houses love Powai.

Another day, another MOD outlet. Mad Over Donuts is now open in Hiranandani Gardens Powai next to Papa John’s Pizza on Central Avenue. It shares its property with Gelato Italiano. I guess Amore, the other gelato outlet faces some competition.


November 27, 2009