December 27, 2009
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.
November 21, 2009
I’ve been really busy with school and so I haven’t really had time to update my blog. I was youtubing and I came across another one of Kunal Vijaykar’s reviews from his show – The Foodie. Kunal visits Paradise, one of my favourite restaurants as part of his episode on Food Treasures in Mumbai.
November 10, 2009
Moving next door, Busaba celebrated it’s 8th anniversary recently. Nikhil’s Chib’r journey to become a restauranteur is pretty interesting and I would love to do a post on it sometime soon.
Miss Malini’s blog has done a pretty good job covering the event.
Image Source – http://www.bollywoodmantra.com/picture/busaba-lounge-s-8th-anniversary-bash-12/
November 5, 2009
I don’t really read much but have read and enjoyed some of Behram ‘Busybee’ Contractor’s articles. My uncle bought a book featuring a collection of his articles that I picked up one day and read through. I recently came across his website and was delighted to find that he also wrote a column on Eating out in Mumbai. Interestingly the only articles written by Busybee that are om his website and can be accessed for free are his articles on eating out in Mumbai. I would like to feature some of these articles here starting off with one of my favourite restaurants in Mumbai – Indigo. I know I’m a bit of a fanboy, but I can’t help it.
Indigo: Bombay’s first gourmet restaurant.
Rahul Akerkar’s Indigo, on Mandalik Road, off Colaba Causeway and behind the Taj, is Bombay’s first gourmet restaurant. I mean, outside the restaurants within the five-star hotels, they don’t count. For instance, there is a potato crusted rawas that is at once crisp and buttery. It is a nice big chunk of rawas, and it is packed top and bottom with grated potatoes. It is pan-sautéed, the potato becoming crusty on the outside, but at the same time acting as a heat shield for the rawas inside, keeping the meat moist and flaky. The contrast is tremendous, you crunch into the potato and meet the yielding meat inside. And it is accompanied (it is a plated meal) with two vegetables and an unusual sauce. The first vegetable is a puree of ginger and carrot, the second is spinach fried very crisp. You can pick it in your hand and crumble it between fingers. So there is a balance between the vegetables also, a puree & a crunch. And finally the sauce, the executive chef calls it ‘kairi curry’. It is a recipe from his grandmother, a mango curry, he has extracted the flavour from it and created a sauce. The dish costs Rs. 260 and it is one of the entrees at the Indigo, a restaurant that has opened more than a month now and if you have not dined there yet you are not living to eat. Sorry.
The executive chef is Rahul Akerkar himself. He is also the proprietor, the inspiration, the idea behind the restaurant. Some time back, I had the opportunity to list the city’s best restaurants, I had put Under The Over at Kemp’s Corner as my No. 1, also started by Akerkar.
The present restaurant replaces Vintage, a Hyderabad food place. Akerkar has redone the insides completely, from top to bottom, or dining room to kitchen. It is designed on clean, contemporary lines, an ambience of restrained elegance. The walls are bare, the table linen plain, the upholstery in the lounge done with suit fabric, the only decoration sprigs of fresh lilies. There are separate areas, a long bar, a lounge, two dining rooms, downstairs and upstairs. There are no rules, you can eat anywhere you like. There is piped music, a mixture of jazz, some African, some Latin, electic music, no disco or heavy rock, but it is not a stuffy place, overbearing or formal. It is nearest to a bistro that you find in the French countryside, the waiters wear white shirts, dark trousers, ties tucked in, long aprons. The cooks wear bandanas on their heads. They have all been trained by Akerkar. First, you have to untrain them of what they learnt, then train them in new methods, he says.
The food. Yes,that’s the main event. The menu is limited, a minimum a la carte menu, appetizers, entrees, desserts. Like all great restaurateurs, Akerkar believes in a small menu that can be changed frequently. But still, there are many flavours, tastes, textures. Basically, the food is European, and the techniques and workings of the kitchen are classic European (50 litres of stock reduced to a ladle of demi glace), but the expression is contemporary. Flavours infused with a little bit of Indianisation. I shall move directly to the appetizers:
A cold carrot and orange soup, Rs. 80. Not many Indians care for cold soups, but for the Indian climate it is appropriate. And a lobster bisque, traditional, no magic in this, except perhaps that it has floating in it bits of crisp okras. Rs. 150. You want to skip the soup, try the mushroom flan. It is a combination of mushrooms, button, black, morel, oyster, sautéed with herbs and a rough puree made of them. This is then mixed in the cooking cement of eggs and cream, put in the oven, and baked so that it firms up and becomes a flan. Served with a lemon mushroom sauce. Rs. 120. Also a gnochi, potato and flour dumplings, with chives added to them, done in a white wine cream, with leeks and saffron. And a fresh tangy roasted lobster salad, with tomatoes, black beans and greens in balsamic vinaigrette. More interesting is the ‘raviolo’. It has been explained to me that raviolo is the mother of ravioli. The latter, as you know, is sealed packets of pasta, but in raviolo you don’t seal the pasta, they are sheets of pasta, you put one at the base of the dish and one at the top, and fill the space between with prawns and roasted pumpkin, and have it with a roasted pumpkin, and have it with a roasted tomato pesto. The tomatoes are roasted in an oven and this is an innovation, they are in place of sun-dried tomatoes that you get at Italian restaurants. Try them. I am told the oven roasted are better than sun dried, not that I agree. The raviolo is Rs. 160, the lobster salad Rs. 180, excellent for the price.
Finally, my favourite, the grilled cinnamon quail. The quail must be the most tender bird of all, the meat picks off the bones with great ease and even the bones can be chewed. In the wild, it is a protected bird, but you are allowed to buy them at quail farms. At Indigo, it is flash flame grilled, very quickly, and it is treated with cinnamon powder, giving the meat a peculiar flavour. The dish comes with a pickled carrot pomegranate and leek salad. So there is the cinnamon-treated meat, rather sweet, and the tart, somewhat tart. After that, have a shorbet, mango and green chilli, or lichee and ginger. Now that peaches are coming in the market, Akerkar is trying another shorbet, of peaches and plums.
Akerkar says he is not trying to change people’s food habits, he is just truing to introduce new tastes. And he is adapting Western food to Indian tastes. For Indian tasted, the food does not have to be spicy, but it must be strongly flavoured. That accepted, at the restaurant they are cutting no corners, everything has to be authentic. If the right ingredients are not available, remove the item from the menu. Basically, everything is cooked in olive oil, and there is a generous use of olives, capers, things are cooked in wines, sauces are prepared overnight. Take a stock of 20 kilos of bones, reduce to two litres of demi glace, add wine, port wine, put on a plate and it coats the plate, glazed like thin honey.
If you are going to the restaurant tonight, I suggest for the entree you have the black pepper crusted tuna. Rs. 260. The meat is taken exclusively from the loin of the tuna, the fillay mignon, the thick muscle above the central bone. The fillay is covered with fresh crushed pepper & sautéed, & served with what they call a capotana, a Mediterrean combination of egg plant, celery, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers in red wine. A warm salady capotana. With white beans & oregano topped with a warm dressing of coriander red wine vinagrette. The chef will cook the tuna for you medium rare to rare, do not instruct him otherwise. The inside has to be underdone, pink, like having a medium rare stake. This is how tuna should be eaten, not overcooked & dry.
There are grilled tiger prawns, with beetroot couscous, pak chori & lobster butter, Rs. 525, but this is usual, do not waste your evening on it. Instead, if you like lamb, go for the braised & stuffed leg of lamb. It’s a baby lamb, the leg deboned & stuffed with mint & basil, then braised. It is served with baked rice, aromatic with dill & peanuts, & root vegetables. There’s a prune chutney that comes with it, to provide the occasional sweet-sour taste to the lamb. There are two chicken dishes, one grilled, with a mushroom ragout, plusw corn and spinach, the other crisp roasted, with lemon put under the skin of the bird.
A dish already popular is a tortellini made with gram flour (besan atta), with roasted pumpkin and pine nut, and a cream of oven roasted tomato. Or you can order a huge vegetable platter, with an assortment of baked, sautéed, roasted and marinated vegetables, with plantain chips, mung dal pancakes, and three sauces to dip them in: Thai style peanut base, a Latin sauce made from capers and parsley, and a sweet red chilli sauce.
Desserts include a warm banana-walnut-chocolate strudel, a caramelised apple tart, also warm, fruit cheese cakes, etc.
I have referred only to the dinner menu. Lunch service has just started. I have not experienced it, but I am told it is different, lighter, more salady, different prices. For dinner, it is advisable to book in advance, if you don’t want to wait in the bar, especially at weekends. Get on the phone for tonight, call: 285 6316, 202 3592.
I’m assuming this is one of the first reviews Indigo got and I’m glad to see that Indigo was just as good then as it is now. Another thing that I really find interesting is what occupied Indigo before it became what it is today. I was of the impression that Rahul Akerkar and his wife converted an old bungalow into the restaurant but I guess another restaurateur had already done that. Also the difference in pricing is pretty amazing.
October 24, 2009
Mad over Donuts opened up their 5th outlet in Mumbai recently right next to Theobrama on Colaba Causeway. Here’s wishing Chef Kishi Arora best of luck with this new branch. I haven’t eaten at Mad over Donuts but have heard a lot of positive reviews about them.
October 21, 2009
Vir Sanghvi’s new show revolves around him getting things made just for him – custom made. I really liked his previous show – A Matter of Taste with Vir Sanghvi, however I found this show a bit pretentious. In this episode Hemant Oberoi dines at Chef Hemant Oberoi’s chef’s table at the Taj- Casablanca. I’m not sure what a custom made meal is, and I didn’t see Vir Sanghvi specifying exactly what he wants to eat and how he wants it cooked, but apparently this meal was custom made – just for him. Anyways the footage gives us a nice look at the chef’s table at the Taj that overlooks the sea. The second part sees Vir Sanghvi eating at Gajalee with the owner – Chandrakant Shetty. Again nothing really custom made with his order of butter garlic crab. Sanghvi then heads to Taj Lands End where Chef Rohit Sangwan makes him a souffle. I hate saying this again but I don’t understand what was custom made about it.
The episode is available to watch here.
July 31, 2009
I came across Alps when I was walking around Colaba the other day. I love the way the restaurant hasn’t changed itself over the years. Everything from the font used on the sign, to the type of material used, to the text on the sign – all take you back a couple of years. I definitly want to try this restaurant out someday.
July 26, 2009
Rahul Akerkar is coming up with a new restaurant called Tote. Tote will be near Olive’s race course property and will be slightly more upmarket than Indigo. I have been waiting for Tote to open for a long time and it keeps getting delayed for one reason or another. Knowing Rahul Akerkar however, one can be assured that it will be worth the wait. I keep bugging the staff at Indigo for updates on Tote and I always get the ‘opening next month’ line.
Businesstoday did a pretty comprehensive writeup on Tote. The gist of it is –
1. Tote was a building at the race course where punters would set up bets during races and Akerkar decided to keep the name.
2. 25,000 square feet
3. Meal for two should cost about 4000 with a drink
4. Seperate bar, banquet facility and a dining section thats further divided into formal, veranda, outdoor and lounge.
A little snooping around and help from a friend(thanks Nupoor!) brought me to architect Kapil Gupta’s website for some WIP pictures. Looks pretty branchy to me.
Good Luck Rahul Akerkar!
July 26, 2009
I drove past Henry Tham the other day and was surprised to find it closed. The Henry Tham board was off revealing the previous name of the restaurant. I was of the impression that they were doing pretty well and can only assume that they’re rennovating or sometihng.
EDIT – Jack & Jones and Only opened up a store where Henry Tham once was.
July 17, 2009
I was reading about Chef’s in India and realized that there really wasn’t any comprehensive list of Chefs. I’m not sure how much of this information is true so if you know of any changes please let me know.
Chef Rahul Akerkar – Indigo/Indigo Delicatessen/Indigo Cafe/Tote on the Turf
Chef Massimiliano Orlati (Max) – Olive
Chef Manu Chandra – Olive Beach
Chef Vicky Ratnani – Aurus
Chef Hemant Oberoi – Wasabi/Chef’s Studio/Zodiac Grill
Chef Nelson Wang – China Garden
Chef Arindram Bahel – Rodas
Chef Ritu Dalmia – Diva
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor – Yellow Chilli
Chef Moshe Shek – Cafe Moshe/Moshe’s
Chef Imtiyaz Qureshi – Dum Puk
Chef Brainard Colaco – Mocha
Chef Shailendra Kekade – Stone Water Grille (Pune)
Chef Gresham Fernandes – Salt Wate Cafe
July 10, 2009
Aromas joins the hugely successful Cafe Coffee Day and Cafe Mocha to become the fourth coffee shop in Powai. CCD gets a little too crowded and though the food and deserts at Mocha are much better than CCD, the shady crowd often puts you off. Cafe Columbia opened up sometime last year but they had a horrible location and their food was probably the worst of the three. Aromas opened up recently in Hiranandani. Aromas is part of an Australian coffee chain and have entered the Indian market with their Hiranandani outlet. I have been to Aromas twice so far and have not really been that impressed. I ordered a slice of cake that was dry, and maybe a little stale too. A lot of things on the menu weren’t available when I went there which was atleast a good month after they had opened. They serve wine but haven’t started serving beer yet (although its on the menu). I had a mint shake as well which wasn’t strong enough and seemed a little diluted to me. Overall the food was pretty disappointing, perhaps average at best. They also serve breakfast which is something I would like to try. Their location opposite D-Mart can get a bit crowded especially during rush hour though I must admit that I enjoyed watching the chaotic traffic while relaxing inside. They have outdoor seating as well which is nice when the weather is good The interiors are pretty good and its a lot better done up than CCD. However it is more expensive than CCD so I guess that it’s balanced. Service was OK. They messed up my friend’s order and he had to wait a good ten minutes after we got our food. The staff is fairly polite so I guess that its not that bad. Overall I guess this is a pretty nice place to hangout if food isn’t really on the top of your list.
June 22, 2009
I don’t know why Olmpia is actually called Olmpia Coffee house and if you have ever heard about Olympia, you have probably heard about their Kheema Pao. Getting their Kheema Pao however is quite a task as it gets sold out in the morning. I have been to Olympia sometimes as early as 10 o clock to find that they are out of Kheema Pao. They do however have a lot of other dishes which are definitely worth trying though not as popular as their Kheema Pao. Their mutton curry for example is definitely worth a try, it comes with the same soft pao that comes with the Kheema pao and if you don’t like how dry the kheema is – this could be a good alternative. However the pieces they use aren’t always the best. Let your waiter know that you are willing to pay a little extra and he will bring you better pieces in the curry. Everything at Olympia is dirt cheap anyways so money is really not an issue. I’ve tried their Biryani too which was good but their kababs were quite disappointing and I would advise you to avoid them. One thing that some people might find a little difficult to adjust to is the crowd. There are a lot of people from different backgrounds who come to eat at Olympia and you may be made to share a table with a stranger during rush hour. A lot of people might be uncomfortable doing this and I guess asking for takeaway is a good option. The restaurant itself is somewhat similar to some of the older restaurants in Mumbai but has a very distinct personality, very different from most restaurants I have been to. The owner/manager of course sits at a table just as you enter. Whoever sits behind that table doesn’t seem to talk to the customers much. None of the regulars seem to talk to him or ‘know’ him though the waiters are very friendly and recognize regulars. Something I noticed about the waiters and the entire staff is that they are all Muslim. I know Olympia is owned by Muslims but I guess they didn’t get the memo on non discriminatory recruitment policies. It’s a little dissapointing to see things like this happen in this day and age. Opposite the tabe there is a small staircase leading to what I suppose must have been a ‘family room’ and I haven’t seen it being used – quite similar to the small upper floor at Brittania. Just as you enter the restaurant there is a sign that says ‘No Beef since 1918’ which either tells you how old the place is or for how long they have not been serving The same cafe style chairs that you find all over Mumbai find themselves at Olympia too. There are a lot of mirrors on the wall, framed in polished wood with little gaps for vents to allow fresh air into the restaurant, Olympia of course is not air conditioned. The restaurant has some really nice dull, almost brick red and yellow flooring which I don’t think has been changed since it opened and looks perfect. The computer to bill customers, in the corner however seems a little out of place but I guess you have to do what you have to do. To top everything else there is a sink at the back where unfortunately there isn’t any soap but a slice of lemon to wash your hands. The busy kitchen is right next to the sink, get a nice whiff of the food while you wash your hands and you can even peek in to see how your food is being made though to be honest I have never really had the guts to do so – somehow I don’t think their kitchen will be too hygienic. On that bombshell things must come to an end. Be sure to drop in to Olympia next time you are in Colaba before 10 in the morning. Cheers!
PS – Olympia is right opposite Cafe Leopold on Colaba Causeway.
April 17, 2009
Name/Location: Zaffran, Crawford Market
Average Cost: 200-300 a dish
Food: Zaffran is apparently centred around the use of Zaffran or Saffron though Im not too sure how much of it they actually use in their food keeping in mind how expensive it is. I usually order their chicken butter chicken, Murgh Zaffrani Tikkas, and some garlic naan and have to say that its some of the best mughlai Iv had. Their butter chicken has a lot of flavour and taste and the chicken tastes good too. The Tikkas are made of large chunks of chicken with the pieces seasoned to perfection and like the butter chicken are full of flavour and taste making dinner here an amazing experience. Their naans are good too and are really nice and soft. I heard a lot about their Raan and decided to order it but was left disappointed with it. I guess next time Ill just stick to the usual. Their deserts too were highly recommended including something called Khubani ka Meetha though it really wasn’t upto the same standards as the chicken. Overall Id say Zaffran is my favourite Mughlai restaurant in Mumbai beating restaurants like Khyber and Delhi Darbar that are usually considered to be the best.
Service: The service here is acceptable and the staff isn’t rude or anything though things can sometimes take a little longer than expected and when it gets busy it might get a little difficult for you to get the waiter’s attention. Overall though Id say the service is satisfactory at this price point.
Ambience: Zaffran is located near Crawford market and its often difficult to get a nice open space here. Zaffran is located on 2 levels and the lower level is usually closed so you might just think its closed. The seating upstairs doesn’t have any windows and that could feel a little claustrophobic for some though it isn’t all that bad to be honest. Zaffran is open till late so that’s an added bonus though the surrounding area gets a little shady as it gets late so It would be best to be a little careful. The restaurant isn’t that bad inside and is pretty decent with clean walls and doesn’t let you have too much to complain about though you really have to be flexible to use their bathroom that’s located under an flight of steps.
Conclusion: Id defiantly recommend Zaffran to anyone who loves Mughlai food. Its good food that’s relatively cheap with comfortable ambience and decent service. The best thing though is that its open till 4 in the morning and so its always good for a nice meal before hitting the sack.
April 17, 2009
Paradise has been around forever and my mom used to come here as a kid. Iv been eating here since I was a kid too and Im kinda hooked, and like my family there are a tonne of people who have been comming here for years. The place is neat and they only have booths in their restaurant unless you go to the backroom (which kinda stinks because it isnt used much). The place has been renovated a couple of years ago but still maintains some of the charm of the old restaurant. As far as food goes Id say this place is excellent. I always have their chicken steak which isnt really a steak, more of roast chicken dish with gravy nd I love it. Iv had 3 orders once so that should tell you how good it is. Their cold chicken salad is really good too as is their salli botti. They also serve Chinese here though I tihnk it would be a lot better to stick to their regular stuff. They also have spcecials which are only available on certain days so make sure you check out the specials menu when you go there. As for the service, Id say its really good too. The waiters recognize regulars and are quite knowledgable about the whole menu. Some of the waiters have been working at the restaurant for years so there really isnt much reason to complain. As far as cost goes, Id say it is a bit overpriced for what it is, but its not expensive by any means. OVerall a great place to get Parsi food.
PS – The owners love animals and feed close to 50 dogs a day!
April 17, 2009
Name/Location: Cafe Basilico, Colaba/Bandra
Average Cost: Around 350 a dish, 100 a drink nd 150 for desert
Food: The head chef used to be the famous Chef Moshe who has now gone on to start his own restaurant.The place is owned by Farhan Azmi who owns Koyla across the street. The menu here has recently changed nd I wasnt too happy about that until I ate here again. I used to have a Cilantro Chicken which was basically a grilled chicken in cilantro sauce with mashed potatoes. When I requested the chef to make the same thing again he reccomended something else. Im not too sure about the name but it had mozerella. I highly reccomend this dish. The place is open for breakfast too but iv never been able to get up early enough. I tihnk its open from 7 . The cuisine here is mostly mediterranean. Their deserts are good too. They used to have the most amazing Baileys Cream Cake though theyv stopped it. I reccomend the Oreo Cheese Cake which has a layer of Crushed Oreos in the middle of other layers of chocolate. Their Blueberry Cheesecake is good too . The deserts here are so good that some people come nd only order deserts. In drinks id reccomend the Peachy Cheek which is just sprite nd peach flavour though its really good.
Service: The service is quite good. The waiters are polite nd helpful nd the chef comes to help you out in case ur confused. the waiters sometimes have problems telling you about the food though theyre very patient about it. The food doesnt come that fast though nd u might be waiting a good 20 mins before u get fed.
Ambience: I quite like the ambience here though the chairs do tend to get uncomfortable after a while. The floor is made out of railway sleepers nd is quite cool to look at. The best part about the place is the tall windows through which you can look out onto the street. gives the place a real charming touch. The only problem though is its quite cramped nd u can sometimes here what people on the other table are saying
Cafe Basilico is one of my favourite places to eat. They have a branch in Bandra as well but I am partial to the one in Colaba. Definitly worth a trip to.
UPDATE – I went to Basilico the other day and found a few changes. They have hopped onto the ‘Old Bombay Pictures’ bandwagon and there are a few interesting pictures around the restaurant which add some charm though the concept has been adopted by so many places already that it is getting a bit stale. They also have free wifi. Ask your waiter for the password.