Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Perfect Union of Food & Drinks

I am being candid when I say the name Reunion Bar & Kitchen seemed liked a strange combination to me and not very exciting too. But I was proven wrong.

The polite and unassuming owner, Mayur welcomed us and had us seated in the basement section. The place looked swanky, but a wee bit dimly lit for my liking.

The menu was exhaustive. Yes, drinks being the mainstay, naturally. The cocktails had interesting names and the concoctions, unique. Nevertheless, I headed to check out the food menu, which was why I was here.

I was taken aback. It was an exercise in choices. I had expected to see a few eats that compliment drinks and perhaps a few burgers, sandwiches et al. But I was in for a surprise.

The menu comprises appetizers like drunken chicken, Cornflakes Bhel, Aram ka vada pav, Crispy Macchhli as well as delectable fried food like Kalimirch Calamari, Bombil Fry, Tempura Fry, Kekda Pattice, etc. What’s more, they also offer lip smacking Indian options like Dal Khicdi, Chhole Khulcha, Rajma Chawal, Butter Chicken, etc. Whew! Stuff that Mumbaikars would instantly relate to.

Drunken chicken, their signature starter is what Mayur recommended. We had it in one shot, for that’s how it’s meant to be enjoyed. The alcohol was potent and yet, the chicken flavours were pronounced.  Perked up my taste buds immediately. Got my thumbs up instantly.

Even though we were engrossed talking, the whiff of the aromatic kekda pattice made us turn and look in that direction. The aroma was indeed overpowering and made us hungry. The cornflakes crust was crisp and well-fried and the crab filling, luscious. The perfect snack for a somewhat nippy afternoon and the fresh crabs made all the difference.

Not a great fan of vada pav, even though I am a Mumbaikar to the hilt, I relented and tasted the mini vada pav sliders. Yes, these were different. The yellow garlic butter  sauce was what lent it a unique flavour. Cleverly crafted, this one was.

DSC_2777

The spinach and mushroom bite-sized pita too had alluring flavours, but I felt that a better accompaniment would be a sour cream with herbs and spring onions, rather than the cheese sauce it came with.

I could not help saluting the chef for his innovative food and the quality as well. For a place like this, the menu and food quality had indeed bowled me over.

The butter chicken khichdi was well-spiced but not spicy and that appealed to me, but the conventional butter chicken creamy element was a tad less. But the keem pav which came next, compensated in ample measure. It was rustic, spicy and wow! Just the way a good keema should be. No gravy, no oil floating on the sides of the dish, yet, delicious. Full marks to the chef for getting this delicacy right in flavours and textures.

DSC_2773 (1)

The shahi tukda, one of my favourites, is what we rounded off our filling meal with. Well-made too. I loved the fact that the rabdi was light, in fact more like a badam milk and contained Baileys. And that’s what made the dessert unique. Of course, the bread was well-fried and generously dipped in the milk base. The Bailey’s could have been drizzled on top too.

For a food lover like me, the drinks here took a back seat as the food offered, is varied and unique.  Clearly a lot of thought and planning has gone into the menu.

With hearty food at affordable prices and exciting beers, cocktails, mocktails and more, this place will surely become a hub for reunion with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Light and Healthy Eats

Now that the festive season is over, and we have begun a new year,  may be we all want to eat light and healthy for a few days at least. I sure am trying. It is a healthy winter soup each night for dinner- pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, and so on. I also tried an interesting turkey lentil soup recently. Aromatic, flavourful and warm. A soup is meant to be an appetiser, but sometimes ends up becoming the meal itself.

Not that I am feeling guilty for the over-indulgence. But it’s just nice to give the body a bit of a rest before we start again. Salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches can be varied and healthy. A low calorie meal can still satisfy your hunger.

And trust me, these need not be bland or boring.  Can be carefully planned and jazzed up. Who can ever tire of the classic soup and salad meal? Not me for sure. I love it. Only make sure your salads are varied and have many colourful ingredients, so that boredom does not set in.

A hearty soup stock with winter vegetables is satisfying  enough or at best pair it with a sandwich made with leftover chicken or ham. And yes, wholewheat bread. When eating a salad, try and avoid heavy salad dressings or dips. I prefer a lot of mustard instead, or even lime, for that zing in a salad.

herb menu copy

A salad with mixed leafy greens, crunchy celery, carrots and tomatoes makes for a delicious meal. For a heartier salad, add tuna or salmon, croutons and cheese. Yes, a bit of cheating is allowed, if only to pamper your taste buds a bit. Jazz up your salad with seasonal fruits. Nothing like apples and oranges in salads. A sea food salad is a good bet too.

Pasta salad makes a filling, but still light, meal. Add veggies to your pasta, as well as some chicken, and a dash of olive oil and you have a tasty meal ready.

Wraps with smoked chicken are one of my favourites. The wraps should be of whole wheat though. Or a falafel wrap maybe?

One must keep in mind that more of protein and less carbs is ideal these days. And of course fatty foods and fried stuff should be completely avoided. Red meat is best stayed away from. After all you have had enough of sorpotel and sanna during Christmas. Haven’t you?

Steamed vegetables, legumes and beans are again a wonderful way to detox your body. Keep away from those sausages, burgers, nuggets and pate. Those may be handy and easy to consume, but are heavy and far from healthy. Processed food is a big no-no for me.

Exotic Mushroom Ramen  - The Fatty Bao - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra-

Consciously add green leafy vegetables, whole grains to your diet. Hummus chicken with brown rice pilaf is a treat and yet, light. The brown rice chicken pilaf at Nothing But Chicken or their Bistro salad are great options too.

So keep eating light and healthy meals the next few days, to ease off your system. Stay fit, Stay healthy. Tell me how January goes.

Eccellente pasto!Italian food at its best!

I can keep waxing eloquent about Italian cuisine, one of my favourite global cuisines. Across India, there are a few places that serve really good Italian fare, but La Terrazza at Hyatt Regency Pune, bowled me over completely.

The decor and ambience beckons you immediately. The place exudes warmth in abundance. We were seated on a corner table with a nice view.

Cafe LT 20009 Final

The set menu for lunch seemed fairly exhaustive. And given the options, it was value for money too. Salad, soup, Pasta/pizza and a veg or non veg main course and of course dessert. An extremely generous menu, I thought this was.

Our Mushroom broth with porcini mushroom and chicken arrived. Aesthetically served. Piping hot, just the way I love it. And the aroma of the mushrooms filled my nostrils. Comforted me, instantly. A few sips and I enjoyed the well-balanced flavourful soup thoroughly.

IMG_20151215_215325

My Mesclun salad (with olive, sundried tomato, parmesan shaving and balsamic dressing) was light and palate-tingling. Fresh and robust flavours oozed out of the high quality ingredients. Full marks here too.

Our potato gnocchi with AOP(aglio olio e pepperoncino) sauce and liberal amount of chicken was delightful. The chef recommended the sauce and we loved it. It complimented the creamy potato gnocchi. An artful pairing this was.

Not  a single dish was heavy and made us experience discomfort. Each morsel was being relished by us. The staff was attentive and the service warm and unobtrusive.

The grilled chicken with creamy polenta was the perfect choice. Succulent breast of chicken, grilled to perfection yet moist, was the apt match for the creamy, coarse polenta. The portions struck me as generous.

The meal had proved to be a memorable one but even though I was satiated with the vast flavours and textures I had experienced, I could not say no to the Tiramisu, my all time favourite dessert. And this one was worth trying. Soft, creamy, wit the right hint of rum and mascarpone cheese, it just melt in our mouths. This was truly a grand finale to a lip-smacking meal.

20151205_143208

This three course lunch at Rs 675 plus taxes is a steal. Any lover of Italian food should not miss this opportunity to gorge on choicest Italian delicacies for this price. And throw in a glass of red or white wine and pay only Rs 100 extra. Incredible!

Office goers too can partake this delectable filling lunch in the afternoons, away for a short break from work. I wish I lived in Pune!

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

 

Mangii in the Morning

Breakfast options in Mumbai are severely lacking and I always long for interesting places to start my day. Unfortunately, not too many options. Naturally, then I was delighted to learn that Cafe Mangii has started offering breakfast. Well, they officially do so from tomorrow, January 7, 2016.

I was fortunate to get a sneak preview this morning. Cafe Mangii never fails customers in food and service, so I was quite sure the breakfast would be a good experience and it was.

My Sweet lime juice in a jar arrived. Fresh and citrusy. It perked me up instantly. The menu was really varied with exciting options for egg lovers and of course vegetarians too. And yes pancakes and waffles too apart from the muesli, cereal et al and juices.

Although the omelettes ( my weakness) sounded appetising and inviting, I decided to skip those for a change.

IMG_20160106_092133

Creamy spinach & truffle infused scrambled eggs is what I settled for. Aesthetically presented, the presentation won me over. A bite into it and I was clean bowled. The fluffy soft eggs, were scrambled to perfection. The layer of creamy spinach and truffle below, was flavourful and melt-in-the-mouth. A perfect complement for the eggs. The potato base offered the right amount of crunch and bite to this delectable breakfast dish. Needlessly, it passed in flying colours.

We also tried the artful combination of poached eggs and salmon with hollandaise sauce, offering exciting flavours and textures juxtaposed in one dish. Well-balanced and a treat for the palate. We had obviously made the right choices. Filling and delicious, we were off to a great start.

IMG-20160106-WA0001

Sipping our coffee, we then relished our Belgian waffles with Nutella and banana. Of course there were options of chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and berry compote too, but we opted for this. Fruits and chocolate combo.

The waffles were crisp yet, soft and our topping, perfect. The sweetness quotient was just right to tantalize our taste buds and yet, let the taste of the previous savoury dishes linger

IMG_20160106_095031

Apart form individual dishes, one can settle for the Cafe Mangii tray which is absolute value for money,

Prompt service, warm hospitality and high quality ingredients always characterize Cafe Mangii and this breakfast sojourn was no exception.

Satiated after this sumptuous breakfast, I headed to work with a smile on my lips. Thank you Cafe Mangii!

Rating: 4.5/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any Time is Tea Time

Winter and tea are quite synonymous aren’t they? Well, for me, anytime is tea time, as I love tea or chai or chaha or cha, as we call it in different parts of India. Can have endless cups in a day. But yes, it has to be brewed or steeped perfectly. My morning cuppa is critical. No one is allowed to mess with that.

We Indians seem to have rediscovered the second most consumed beverage in the world. We all grew up having chai- a thick, milky brew infused with ginger and spices and boiled for a long time. At one time, a basic masala chai was all we knew. Now, we are spoilt for choice.

I fortunately grew up to the ‘champagne of brews’- Darjeeling tea, in West Bengal. Kolkata to be precise. The musky scent and floral fragrance of Darjeeling tea, spells magic for  me, even today. It perks me up instantly.

But as in the case of food, people nowadays are in the mood to be adventurous and experiment with teas too. Taste buds have opened up, and thus a plethora of unusual flavours can be seen making their way into homes from store shelves.

 

Speciality teas are now the ‘in’ thing. People have taken to drinking flavoured  and several exotic teas. Earl grey has always been the most sought after, lightly flavoured tea but now, the repertoire has expanded. White teas to calm and de-stress oneself are also picking up, albeit a bit expensive.

Tea service at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar

Flavoured teas are created by adding fruits, spices, flowers or natural flavours to black, oolong or green teas depending on the flavours that complement the tea. Flavours like vanilla, orange, passion fruit or berries are very popular.

 

Taste apart, health is an important factor and that’s why green tea has rapidly caught the fancy of urban India. Consumed without sugar, Green tea relaxes us instantly and boasts of several health benefits.

I love some of the teas at Tea Culture of the World.  Generally frequent their outlet at Hypercity, Malad. Established by Dr. Rupali Ambegaonkar, TAC Tea Sommelier, a former medical practitioner, as an endeavor to cater to the palates of modern Indian tea aficionados, this place offers some of the finest, most exotic and rare teas from around the world in the Indian market.

Tea rooms and tea houses are becoming fashionable now. These are mushrooming in each city and Mumbai is no exception. May their tribe increase. But of course a well made cutting chai at a road side tapri is equally refreshing.

But the ritual of tea drinking if elaborate, pleases me no end. No wonder, I love the tea service at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar. It elevates the tea drinking experience completely.

Now I need a cup of tea for sure. Have a large collection, so need to pick an apt one for this weather.