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.


UTVi news did a bit on Tote on the Turf that gives us a good look at how the restaurant turned out. I wouldn’t take the review too seriously though.

Olive Bar & Kitchen

November 2, 2009

This summer I finally visited Olive’s property at the racecourse. I had been to their Bandra branch long ago but this was my first visit to the race course branch. A lot of people talk about how Olive is one of the best restaurants in Mumbai and some even rate it as good as Indigo. Rahul Akerkar’s Tote on the Turf is now open in the same area that is being developed to house a number of restaurants.

Olive is located on one end of the race course parking lot and if you aren’t familiar with the restaurant, the lack of signs might just make it quite difficult to get there. The driveway however is pretty impressive and due to the fact that the entrance is not on a road, you get enough time to get out of your car.I made sure to make a reservation as I knew that it got pretty busy on the weekends. I got there on time but was made to wait for a good 30 minutes before being given a table. The hostess guided us to the bar area which was really crowded and there wasn’t enough bar stools or counter area for us to hang out. Another thing I didn’t appreciate was how the bar was not properly seperated from the rest of the restaurant which made it really awkward to wait for your table. Also waiting at the bar in a way forces you to buy a drink or two. A better idea would be if  the restaurant had a separate waiting area or enough space where you don’t feel like you’re making someone else  stand and wait even more awkwardly than you. Another thing that bothered me was the loud house music playing in restaurant. I guess it’s OK for the bar area but the bar and the outdoor seating area were the same and the music was a bit too much while eating. As you can tell I was already a bit pissed off with the wait. I would understand being made to wait if I didn’t have a reservation but being made to wait after a booking is a bit ridiculous. After we were finally seated and handed the menu, I tried asking one of the waiters for a recommendation.  The waiter tried to help me out but the loud music made it a little difficult for me to hear him. Also I could tell that he was a bit stressed and couldn’t talk comfortably. I was there on a Saturday which I imagine is one of the busiest nights of the week and so I’m willing to accept a bit of a slip in service but it was my first time at Olive and I really needed some help. They had a wood fired oven and so I decided to order a pizza as I imagined it would be something they made well. Although I was sitting in the outer dining area I did manage to have a look at the inside section as well and wasn’t too impressed to be perfectly honest. The outside section is a lot better and had been enclosed and airconditioned. One thing I really liked about the inside is the view of the stables. You can look at the horses in the stable next door which I thought was kind of a cool thing to watch when you’re eating. I hate to be so anal about this, but the window had blue tint over it which would have been fine in the day, but makes the horses look really blue at night when the tubelights are on in the stable. The food took some time to get there which again I was willing to forgive considering how busy it was. However the three orders got to the table at different times. My pizza got there first and by the time the other two orders were completed, I had finished my pizza.  The pizza was OK and even if it would have been great I probably wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it because of the atmosphere. When the time came to order desert, we decided to head to Indigo Deli instead so I can’t really comment on their deserts.

On the upside however Olive did seem like a nice place to go to if food isn’t a priority. I somehow got the feeling that it was more of a place to spot people and be spotted, something that a lot of the people there seemed pretty comfortable with. I guess if that’s the kind of person you are, you’re going to really enjoy Olive. Olive describes itself as a rustic hideaway where good food, laughter, culture and conversation come together in a Mediterranean melting pot. A place where beautiful people meet to enjoy life’s simple journey. Although I’m not too sure about the simple part, the last line really summarizes Olive for me – more of a place to meet if you are a beautiful person than a place to enjoy a good meal.

EDIT – My mother and aunt who had been here earlier liked the place a lot more than we did and so maybe we were just there on a bad night.

Tote on the Turf – OPEN

October 21, 2009

Looks like Tote on the Turf is finally open after all the delays. I can’t wait to get  back home and try the place out.

Tote on the Turf

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!

Classic Crosswords

I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with Crossword, the chain of bookstores around India. Before Crossword grew into the chain that it is today, it was a bookstore on the second floor of a building in Mahalaxmi. Parking there was impossible and climbing the stairs to get to the shop was a pain. One often had to park at a car park a little distance away and take a cab but it was all worth it. Crossword was one of the best bookstores in the city and carried everything from coffee table books to Archie’s. One could pick up a book and sit near the window and read, occasionally looking down at the traffic below. I remember the store having white and black tiles, just like a Crossword and promoting Post It notes which promised to make life 100 times simpler. My mom was cleaning her cupboard today and I found this bag and knew I had to post it. Bags from Crossword don’t look like this anymore which makes this picture extra special.

I distinctly remember their kid’s section. They used to carry a decent collection of 1:18 scale models which I would pick up from time to time. I remember stopping by at Crossword on my birthday and picking up models of a BMW 8 Series and a Toyota Landcruiser and going to Sea Lounge after that to have some cake. I was so tired after the whole thing that I went to sleep after cutting the cake, not before I had another look at the newest additions to my collection though. I remember another time during Christmas when my mom asked me to pick out a model that I liked, it all seemed a little fishy but then again I was just a kid and went along with it. Crossword had a Christmas party and Santa was chilling with all the kids at Crossword on the terrace of the building. I don’t remember the party and I’m sure it was a little awkward being at a party with people I didn’t know but I remember Santa handing me a gift at the end of it all, it was the Blue 1:18 Dodge Viper that I had chosen earlier. I already had a red convertible Viper in my collection but the blue hardtop looked super cool and had racing stripes across it, how could I resist? Coming back to Santa, Either he actually knew everything I was thinking(and whether I was naughty or nice) or he and my mom were buddies, either way I wasn’t too comfortable with the arrangement – but what did I care, +1 for my collection.

I also remember drooling over a slot car racing track for about a month and throwing a tantrum each time we left Crossword without it. It looked so cool, the kid on the box was so happy playing with it and I knew I wanted it. I read through the entire box every time I went there and always found out something else about it that was supercool and made me want it even more. Finally one birthday I ripped open my present that was pretty big and found a bigger version of the track that I wanted and I was really really happy. The next few days were spent reading the complicated assembly instructions and trying to put the pieces of track together though I never got to finishing more than 75% of the track. Each time I came close to completing the track I either got frustrated and lost interest or had to dismantle the track so that the room could be cleaned. The track now sits on top of my cupboard and I guess I should probably take it out some day and assemble the whole thing.

Another time I got something from Crossword was either another one of my birthdays or after an exam that I aced. I had just got a new computer some time ago and played a tonne of Need For Speed 3 and was a little bored with it. I had no idea what games were good and really chose everything looking at the cover – the cooler the cover art, the cooler the game – made sense right? Test Drive 5 had a pretty good cover and looked super cool. I spent about 10 minutes looking through the other games and finally decided that Test Drive 5 was for me. I went through the specifications and everything seemed to be OK. I got it home though and it never worked. I was able to see the start up video which seemed cool and there was this evilish barking when the developer’s logo was displayed. I could see how cool the game was but never got to actually play it. I was really disappointed – what a waste of a birthday/doing well in an exam!! Dammit!! I called Crossword and told them about the problem and after being transferred to about a dozen different lines a man at the other end just said Sorry. What actually had happened was that my computer didnt have a good enough graphics card or something like that and I was convinced that it did because of some stupid graphics demonstration video that came along with my computer. It wasn’t really Crossword’s fault but I was disappointed and needed someone to blame.

Coming back to the topic, the Crossword in Mahalaxmi no longer exists, Crossword now has a new logo and a new carry bag. I’m not sure whether or not they are using the space as an office but the bookstore is now located at Kemps Corner. Iv never been to the new location but it looks pretty fancy from outside and I think it even has a little Cafe inside. You can see people sitting on little chairs by the window and reading, I’m sure the view from the second floor was better though.