Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Italian Job


Review: Di Napoli

Just when you wonder, ‘what more can be done to a pizza that the Gujjus Madwadis of the country have not done already?’ Prepare to be surprised!

 The newest Italian eatery in town, Di Napoli boasts of a tagline that says "handmade pizzas". Frankly speaking, I didn’t have a lot of expectations from this, I mean Pizza doesn't top my list of cravings ever and I hate the pizza chains in our country!  So when they invited me for a bloggers meet the above lines kept echoing in my mind. But I did take a chance. Good decision? Well let’s find out.


 With hues of scarlet, white & black as decor, Di Napoli reminds you of the typical Pizza joints in the US and even the earlier Pizzeria at Marine Drive (now Pizza by the bay. Tacky I know!). Think that comes from the owner Jay Thakur, US returned, banker by profession, who decided to call it quits one day so he could learn the art of pizza making. The place also exhibits a wood fired brick oven imported all the way from Italy.

A look at the menu and you would see the limited options available amongst the soups, salads, pastas and deserts categories. All pizza’s have minimum of one and maximum 3 toppings and are available in 12” only.



We begin with the humble Original Margherita – thin base, mind you not the 'papad' like crispy but gooey, with tomato sauce topped with mozzarella, olive oil and basil leaves – a beautiful melancholy of flavours plays in your mouth unlike the boring margheritas you are used to. The simplicity of the pie just makes you crave for more. Post that I try the Greca – this pizza is thinner and crispy with no tomato sauce, but some sprinkled cucumber, tomatoes and feta, a take on the salad – quite a refreshing combination although I thought the crust was a bit charred.

Original Margherita

After this chef Giulio Adriani, a master pizza maker, who was here to help Mr. Thakur set up his kitchen demonstrated the making of original Neapolitan pizza. My first question to him was how many kinds of pizza are there besides the Neapolitan. With a wrinkle on this nose he replies back Pizza is only a Neapolitan phenomena, the others are just copies. Wow I thought, quite an epiphany, for all these years of my life I have been eating the crappy fakes!!  He also added that pizzas must have only 2-3 toppings in order to be able to savour all the flavours – that of the base, cheese, tomato sauce and the topping. Another epiphany! His anger on the Domino’s offering an extravaganza of toppings seemed valid to me. Just like we wouldn’t like Italians and French to mess with something like a vada pav or dal chawal, they do not like people messing with their pizza. Christian Grey style- Fair point, Well taken, Mr Adriani. With fluid dexterity Adriani, who has been making pizzas since the the age of 13, shows how the handmade pizza is made - He spread the dough with his hands, adds a dollop of marinara sauce, then the cheese, basil, olive oil and then places the oven. The pizza takes just within 1 minute to roast and what you see is the beautiful simple pie, fluffed at the ends - a mouthwatering sight

Chef Adriani


Back at our tables, we order the Tomato Soup – thick tangy broth served in a coffee – very ok, nothing extraordinary. The Funghi Pizza – was delectable with subtle flavours of mushroom added to the already flavoured margherita. The Margherita Prosciutto – margherita with slivers of Parma was yum too, although I felt the ham was a bit chewy!

Tomato Soup
Funghi Pizza

In drinks, I have the Lemongrass Cooler – a zesty drink with quite a refreshing flavour

Then we order for the Penne Pomodori Pesto- penne tossed in sundried tomato – I found the pasta a little uncooked for my palate, although people may argue its al dente. The sauce was too dry and too oily. The Fusilli Basil Pesto -  in green pesto sauce bought the same emotions.The Angel Hair Pasta - white sauce pasta was too thick and lacked any flavour. While the pastas were not a disaster they were certainly many notches below the pizzas in taste and flavour.

Fusilli Basil Pesto
Penne Pomodori Pesto
A meal for 2 would cost between Rs.1000 -1500/-. Alcohol isn’t available yet.

Verdict:

Food: Good

Ambience: Pizzeria like

Service: Good


Quick Tip: Come here for the immaculate & unadulterated Pizza experience!


The Co-ordinates:

Di Napoli

Where: Dalamal Towers, Free Press Journal Marg,  Nariman Point , Mumbai

Tring Tring: 43473200

Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM

Food Type: Italian

Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted

Friday, October 19, 2012

Food for Nawabs


Review: Golconda Bowl

The word Golkonda derives itself from Golla konda literally meaning shepherd's hill. It is a ruined city of south-central India and capital of ancient Kingdom of Golkonda  somewhere in the 16 century about is situated 11 km west of Hyderabad.

The time you enter Golconda Bowl its hard to not take the cognizance of the walls painted scarlet, matching wooden tables and chairs of chestnut hues. Brass cutlery laid out well, that add to the earthy ambience of the place.

It’s taken me a couple of phone calls and tweets to book a place here. They do not do bookings on weekends due to past experiences of customers not turning up. But post my tweet the owner himself `sweet enough to call and book a table for me.
So here I am with my family on for our Sunday brunch ritual, my dad a bit cribby for making him travel all the way to Bandra (in the Bandra fair traffic). I do a quick prayer that this meal is worth it.

A look at the menu and the contents are as Hyderabadi as the name would suggests. We proceed to order with much consultation from our courteous steward.

Pathar Gosht

The Pathar Gosht – succulent pieces of meat, minced to very fine consistency, Our stewadrd later described that that dish derived its name because pounded meat is roasted on a fiery granite stone. Beautiful, melt in the mouth! A must have dish in my opinion.
We then order for a Nalli Nihari, which sadly is not available. 

How the Pathar Gosht cooked

The next dish – Haleem – again very finely pound mutton cooked with barley & lentils till it’s a thick meat stew. Have it with Roomali Roti and that will be the most immaculate moment of your life. The sweetness of the caramelized onions on top combined with slight hint of lemon juice and the spicy flavor of the condiments makes for a ephemeral combination.

Haleem

The Kache-Gosht-Ki-Biryani here comes with Raita and a curry sort of a thing. Not to mention it is topped with boiled egg to maintain an authencity. The meat well marinated tasted succulent with the long grain basmati. Although I’d expect some more of the masala/gravy to coat the meat inorder for it to entice me more.

 Kache-Gosht-Ki-Biryani

Golconda Bowl is truly gives you that regal – Food For the Nawabs kind of feel. I could see it with me family, even my father seem to be satisfied with our feast.

A meal at Goconda Bowl w/o alcohol would cost anywhere between Rs 400-600 per head

Verdict:
Food: Excellent
Ambience:  Good
Service: Very Helpful
Quick Tip: In the mood for some really exotic Indian food, go get yourself food for the Nawabs at Golconda Bowl

The Co-ordinates:
The Golconda Bowl,
Where: Hotel Metro Palace, Hill Road,  Bandra West , Mumbai
Tring Tring: 26431234
Timings: 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM, 7:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Food Type: Indian, Hyderabadi, Mughlai
Payment Methods: Visa, Master, Cash

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Divinity Within....


Review: Haagen Dazs

The most fond memories I have of my childhood is going with my family - parents, cousins et al to this ice cream parlour called Yankee Doodle’s at Marine Drive. We sat together on the bench swing, me holding on tight to my cone, wrapped in a tissue, licking my chocolate ice cream while the melted cream slithered around my hand and made its way to my dress. Life was carefree, homework the only biggest tension and ice creams the bestest thing in the world!

It’s raining outside, as I wait anxiously for the door to swing open. With every swing I spring to see, but no sign of him. I am at the Haagen Dazs, New York’s finest ice cream parlour, newly opened in Mumbai waiting for the glimpse of mi amour.



Reminiscing my childhood days, I wonder, if I can ever feel that carefree again? I look at the kids around and see their satisfied expressions while licking that dripping creamy ice cream and immediately come to a conclusion that ‘it's a child thing’. The innocence just fades, you get conditioned!

While waiting, I order for a Raspberry Sorbet... Rs 200 for one scoop! Hell this better be good. I take the first bite of crystallized ice cream – the tangy flavour is refreshing, but can’t sustain you for long. After a while you get bored and can’t eat much of it.

The door swings open, he walks in and my heart skips a beat. My arms fling open, as naturally as when bird unfurls ready to fly. A leap, a hug and there is electricity in the air!

 Banana Caramel Crepe
We order. The Banana Caramel Crepe - wafer thin French dessert drizzled with butterscotch sauce, one scoop of Dulce de Leche and another of Pralines & Cream on the side, scattered with banana slices and hazelnut bits. The entire combination – the buttery sauce, the rich ice creams, and the layered crepes can make the world seem like a better place!

We talk. Actually we talk a lot. I love talking to him. That’s the best part of being us. We can talk about anything under the sun.

Our next dessert is the Lone Ranger, these come in 3 different flavours, we order for the ‘Summer Berries & Cream’ one - summer and berries ice cream on a bed of raspberry sauce, some cream, raspberries and crushed biscuits. The ice cream’s fruity flavour combined with the rich dollop of cream below was yum. The only thing I didn’t like about this dessert was that the raspberries were frozen, once you put them in your mouth all you could taste was ice!
The Lone Ranger

We both are sarcastic in our own way, we share that. A sense of humour only we can understand. A side I could never share with the world, not many people appreciated cynicism. We let it out with each other, sometime we make fun of others, sometime poke fun at each other, sometimes try to hurt just so that we get attention. It’s our dark side, we may not be proud of it, but we live with the solace that there is one person in the world who will live with us inspite of it.

The fourth dessert (yes fourth! Statutory warning: These stunt i.e. eating four desserts I mean, can be performed only by experts...DO NOT TRY THIS on your own) was the Love in Belgium. Now this is a huge dessert! A lava cake with molten chocolate inside waiting to pour out with Belgian chocolate and normal chocolate ice cream on the side. But the best part of this dessert was two small pieces of flourless brownie. The moment we put it in our mouths – something happened, our eyes closed to fully taste the ambrosia, then opened we looked at each other and burst into laughter. Suddenly I was transported back on the swing of Yankee Doodle. Then came my moment of Epiphany!
Love in Belgium



Divinity lies within, it’s there somewhere, beneath the dust of cynicism, the cobweb of distrust, it’s there waiting for a trigger. Chocolate is the trigger, Love is the trigger!


A meal for 2 would cost between Rs.1000 -1500/-. Each dessert is in the range of 440 – 1300 bucks. But Haagen Dazs is a dessert meal not an after food option!

Verdict:
Food: Divine
Ambience: Serene
Service: Good

Quick Tip: Spread the joy, take your most favourite people here and experience the divine!

The Co-ordinates:

Haagen Dazs
Where: Palladium, High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai
Tring Tring: 022 43474449, 022 42952900, 022 42952902
Timings: 11:30 AM to 1 AM
Food Type: Dessert Meal
Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted

Monday, August 20, 2012

By the Sea

Review: Corniche

The word ‘corniche’ means a winding road cut into the side of a steep hill or along the face of a coastal cliff. Thus aptly named the eatery ‘Corniche’ is situated right off Carters Road, opposite the Sea.

Pic Courtsey Zootout.Com

You must know the phrase ‘hard to miss’ well Corniche is just the opposite! With the Carter’s Road Cafe Coffee Day and Yogurt Bay hogging the limelight, Corniche can hardly be seen (it’s just adjacent to Cafe Coffee Day). But as you enter the place you can’t help but be mesmerised, by the ambience and the view! Directly facing the ocean, surrounded by palm trees, you can actually hear the waves lashing across the shore, making for sweet music especially while on a date.

Pic Courtsey Zootout.Com

The menu at Corniche seems to offer a wide range on cuisines from Italian to Mexican, Lebanese and Thai.

We begin with the Wild Mushroom Soup – Thick, creamy, smooth and ‘absofuckinutly’ yum!

Wild Mushroom Soup

We move on to the appetiser – Tangerine Chicken- Chicken Supremes marinated in tomato concasse and orange juice – brilliant tastes with freshness of thyme and rosemary and the zest of the orange.

Tangerine Chicken

The Greek Salad with the Vinaigrette Dressing was a bit of a disappointment – first you couldn’t see or taste the feta cheese ( for me cheese is really important part of a salad and for god’s sake this is a GREEK SALAD) and secondly it just didn’t taste well either. Like the veggies seemed to be limp.

Next was the Amatricana Penne Pasta –a tomato based pasta with bacon- while again I couldn’t taste any of the bacon the pasta tasted yum! Slightly on the piquant side, not something you would expect a pure haul Italian pasta to be but what the hell it tasted good!

Amatricana Penne Pasta

The Chicken and Bell Pepper Risotto, I thought was overdone and the rice didn’t have the ‘al dente’ touch!


Chicken and Bell Pepper Risotto

On the whole, I would go back to ‘Corniche’ for the ambiance, the soup and the pasta!



A meal for 2 would cost between Rs.1000 -1500/-


Verdict:

Food: Mixedbag

Ambience: Serene

Service: Okay

Quick Tip: Go enjoy a serene view at Corniche, but be warned not to be too experimental with the food, stick to the basics! Mushroom Soup is a must have!

The Co-ordinates:

Corniche

Where: B-15, Gagangiri Co-Operative Housing Society, Carter Road,  Bandra West , Mumbai

Tring Tring: 022 26460147

Timings: 11:00 AM to 12:30 AM

Food Type: Continental, Mexican, Thai

Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Its raining Burgers... Hallelujah

Review: Burgs


Grey dog hound kinda entrance, white washed walls with blue imprints... Not a place you would expect burgers to be served. But Burgs claims to be the place for ‘Gourmet Burgers’. Is it? CM finds out!


One look at the menu & you are tempted with all burgers looking even bigger than the Big Mac! In the words of owner & young entrepreneur’s Krishna Kilachand  "I don’t believe in bite sized food; I want everyone to be completely satisfied when they leave the place". CM loves the attitude!

Dijon Chicken

So I start with the Grilled Chicken with Dijon Mustard – perfectly grilled chicken supremes dressed in yummy mustard sauce. A chunky burger full of deliciousness albeit the fluffy burger bun overpowered the burger.
Notorious PIG

The next one Notorious Pig – yummy slivers of slow cooked finely shredded pork shoulder drenched in a beautiful sweet and spicy sauce made for a perfect burger. This is a must have here.

Prawn Kracker


We move on to Prawn Kracker – too greasy and had this weird stench. Not recommended.

Mac & Cheese Bomb


In the vegetarian ones, I had the Mac & Cheese Bomb Burger. Firstly it’s hard to imagine what a Mac & Cheese would look like, forget the taste. But this was a good surprise. Molten lava of soft Mac & Cheese inside some crusty patty was awesomelicious (if that were a word).


The Fries and Onion rings too were good – crispy yum!


In the drinks, I tried the the Strawberry Crush which tasted like cough syrup but the Peanut Jelly Butter Shake was really good!


In all, I think Burgs puts McDonalds to shame if not giving it a run for its money! The only drawback CM found was that the bread sort over powered the taste of the burgers being a tad bit bigger in size and fluffy.


Just to make a note, with burger fests catching up, Burgs offers a really good variety of burgers compared to other places & at cheaper rates. They even seemed to have designed their menu keeping vegetarians in mind with variants like Aubergine (I didn’t try it but the lady next to me loved it), Corn Colonel & Gardenia.



A meal for 2 would cost between Rs.300 -600/-



Verdict:

Food: Good

Ambience: Different

Service: Very Polite & helpful


Quick Tip: Go get you fix of some really filling and appetizing burgers! Notorious PIG is the must! Even if you are not a pork fan.



The Co-ordinates:

Burgs

Where: 4 & 5, New Kamal Building, 248 Waterfield Road, Bandra West, Mumbai   

Tring Tring: 022 26552242, 022 26557722

Timings: 11 AM to 11 PM

Food Type: American Fast Food

Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Snow White & Some Food

Review: Smoke House Deli



You enter Smoke House Deli and you get the feeling that Snow White could have stayed here. White washed walls with cryptic, ‘hand made black marker’ kind of designs. A book shelf, a gramophone and a bar, all in one place! Riyaaz Amlani has sure given alot of thought to the design of his new brainchild.



The menu at Smoke House looks very limited while it has good range – soups, salads, pastas, mains & desserts; the choices in these categories are not many. And more so I think the vegetarian options are sparse.

To start we are served with a bread (in cute sack) and some flavoured butter. Didn’t impress me much and they didn’t refill it either going forward.

Sangria Rosso

To quench our thirst we order for Melon Sangria & Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Melon & Lemonade Mocktail.  The Melon Sangria to my surprise came in sparkling wine, which wasn’t what I expected. I told the waiter that I was expecting the red wine Sangria. He twitched a bit explained to me that melon sangria was white but politely went back to get me the Sangria Rosso. It feels great when the staff at restaurants really take care of your needs rather dismissing you. Hospitality isn’t just serving people it’s much beyond. Delight would be close but beyond that too. The Sangria Rosso – was nectarius mix of fruity flavours! The Kiwi, Cantaloupe mocktail was refreshingly soothing!

 
Mushroom Risotto
We dived right into the mains with Smoked Mushroom Risotto – thought Arborio rice was not cooked to well. Not the al dente kind. Also the flavours were quite disappointing. Too bland! The next dish Peri Peri Smoked Chicken + Pimento Reduce was scrumptious – grilled chicken breasts drizzled with pimento (bird chillie) sauce. Both Peri Peri and Pimento originate from these bird chillies of African. They add a beautiful piquant aroma! The Chicken Peri Peri was a dish full of such enticing flavour.

Cambodian Basa
Peri Peri Chicken

Next we move on to Lemon+Dill Cambodian Basa oak smoked pimento & Garlic Sauce – Marinated in batter the fish was soft and succulent. It had this herbaceous Lemony zing to it.

Overall my experience with non-veg dishes was better. They also have a value for money option a soup+ half sandwich option which have added to my totry list


A meal for 2 would cost between Rs.2000 - 2500/- with alcohol


Verdict:

Food: Good for Non-Vegetarian

Ambience: White

Service: Polite



Quick Tip: On the weekend, after exploring the pathetic sale at Zara & Mango at palladium, park yourself at Smoke House for Sangria Rosso and Chicken Peri Peri. You just might get over not having shopped for anything!


The Co-ordinates:


Smoke House Deli

Where: Unit No.9G, Block No 3, High Street Phoenix,  Lower Parel , Mumbai

Tring Tring: 24933222, 9619863248

Timings: 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM

Food Type: European, International, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Fusion, Italian, American

Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Good Life!

Review: Dolce Vita

As a kid I used to frequent this store called Rustoms located at Wodehouse Road in Colaba. Now what was so special about this store you may ask? Rustoms was one of the few and I mean very few stores that stocked foreign food! So from the Laughing Cow cheese cubes (I used to love them) to alphabet soup to mac &  cheese, Rustoms stacked it all. Sadly, a few years ago it shut!


On entering Dolce Vita, I was reminded of Rustoms. I was reminded that there are two kinds of stores I can spend my entire day at  – Bookstores and Foodstores. Even when I go abroad I love shopping at the food section of the supermarkets. Its an amazing experience. What was really surprising about La Dolce Vita was that it was well stocked! From Doritos to Flavoured Tea to a variety of Cheese to meats to even alcohol! Unlike Natures Basket, which never has what you really go there to buy!


So like supermarkets abroad DolceVita has also a dining area where Chef Rohet Khanna and his team delight their patrons. The menu at DV is quite impressive  too with international dishes like Laksa, Terriyaki Chicken, Pasta, Shish Tawouk making it to the items.

But Culinary Muse was here to sample the new ‘High Tea’ menu. Priced at Rs 500 for 2 guests, the high tea menu offers a choice unlimited tea or coffee, choice of Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian Sandwiches, desserts and scones! Now thats what I call value for money!
(On Top) Cherry Jam & Cream; (2nd plate) Mocha Cheese Cake, Cream Roll, Lemon Tart, Blackforest Cake; (3rd Plate) Assorted Sanwichs)

I started with the Veg Mushroom and Garlic Sandwhich – delicate flavours of fresh mushroom and garlic wrapped in multi grain bread. The Chicken Coronation Sandwich which was flavourful with the mayo based sauce and curry powder (yes curry powder and it just did wonders). The Burnt Garlic Chicken was nice too! However the Prawn & Rosemary one was a tad bit bland for my palate. The best part about these sandwiches was that you can combine them with your choice of breads – Whole Wheat, White, Multigrain


The next were the Scones – absolutely delicious, just the right consistency served with this heavenly freshly made Cherry Cinnamon Jam! A must have at this place.
Scones with Cherry Cinamon Jam (bottom)


Then we moved on to the Cream Roll- delicate shell shaped pastry filled with light cream – again exquisite. I particularly fond of small portions of dessert that give you that satisfaction of taste and don’t make feel too full either. Which is the reason why this worked for me and which is also the reason why the next one didn’t. The Lemon Tart – the filling was really refreshing, but the crust was too thick. Two bites into it and it felt heavy.

The star of this evening was clearly the next dessert – Mocha Cheesecake. Dulcet cubes of melt in the mouth coffee flavoured soft cheesecake. Marvellous! If orgasms were possible in the mouth, this would be it.

Overall my experience here was amazing, I would rate this one of the best mid level cafe’s far better than the Barista’s and Cafe Coffee Days and quite cheaper than the Moshe’s and Indigo Deli’s

The High Tea for 2 costs 500 plus taxes!

Verdict:

Food: My dil goes hmmmmmmmm

Ambience: A bit noisy with the supermarket

Service: Very polite and helpfil


Quick Tip: Come with your office colleagues or your friends and gauge on the yummy Mocha Cheesecake & Scones with cinnamon cherry jam

The Co-ordinates:

Dolce Vita

Where: Grand Galleria, Pheonix Mills, Lower Parel (Next to Lush)
Tring Tring: 022 61272107, 022 40044432 
Timings: 11 AM to 11 PM
Food Type: World Cuisine
Payment Methods: Credit cards accepted




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