Tag Archives: affordable

This Bake House Cafe Makes Your Day

Mumbai is inundated with new restaurants, gastro pubs and cafes. Professionally, one ends up visiting many, but it is only a few which leave a lasting impression and beckon you again even for family meals. Bake House Cafe, Kalaghoda, in the recent past has been one such place that has caught my fancy.

British art running along the walls, extending to the leather upholstery, creates the quaint and easy-going atmosphere of a British café right in the heart of Kalaghoda. Apart from the spacious seating area downstairs, there is a beautiful wooden steps going upstairs where there is more seating. The area on top is more for leisurely dining and relaxing with friends or perhaps even working.

Mezze Platter

Expect classic as well as European comfort food, made with quality produce here. The food is simple, although new flavours and little detours by talented Chef Zeeshan Jamal liven up the reasonably-priced menu.

Offering breakfast, pizza, burgers, mains, desserts, salads and soups, this place is suitable for any time of the day. The organic black risotto rice, cheddar mushroom and asparagus omelette and creamy spinach and caramelised onion pizza deserve a special mention.

Almond Crusted King Fish at the Bake House Cafe

At pocket friendly prices, this place focuses on Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and everything in between. The menu consists of sections in details like Breakfast, Soups, Salads, Small bites, Main courses, Pastas, Pizza, Burgers, Sandwiches, Milkshakes, Juices and more. Whew! That sure, is a varied menu.

The Three Melon Feta Salad, was fresh and flavourful. The Butter lime garlic prawns were fresh and the garlic added a touch of zest while the lemon gave it the requisite tangy flavours.

The Gymkhana sandwich was well-made, full of familiar flavours and satiating too.

Other dishes worth trying by Carnivores are Almond Crusted King Fish, Grilled Indian Salmon and the Tenderloin Steak. There are ample options for vegetarians too. The pizza here is strongly reminiscent of the ones at Indigo, Colaba. The Chef has after all worked there.

The Breakfast menu is tempting as hell and one needs to step in exclusively to relish a breakfast here one day. I certainly plan to do that.

The food here is made with superior quality ingredients and the flavours shine through effortlessly. The presentation is good but the food, simple and unpretentious.

There is a vast array of desserts to choose from. The Banoffee pie and Croissant bread pudding caught my eye. The pudding was typically home style and left me speechless, while the Banoffee pie, albeit well-made, paled in comparison today.
I left this cafe, satiated and pleased, as the food here surpassed my expectations.
Rating: 4/5
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Celebrating the flavours of Bandra

When a cosy cafe opens in Bandra to celebrate the salient features of Bandra and its food, it certainly merits a visit. This latest entrant into Bandra beckons you immediately. The warmth is unmistakable.

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There are two seating areas- one a dining only and the other has sheesha too. The decor is interesting and the metal head is artistically done.

The menu is a clear tribute to all the food we love in Bandra.  Soups, salads, mains, desserts, this menu offers a wide selection of all with global offerings as well. The bar menu is equally exhaustive.

Trio Fungi Risotto

Sriracha prawns and chicken harissa skewers in the non-vegetarian appetizers prove to be a good choice. The portions are hearty and the food well-presented and unpretentious.  The harissa skewers are well-spiced and robust. The coriander relish sweet potato among the vegetarian options, bowls me over completely. The inherent sweet flavours of the sweet potato are cleverly used and juxtaposed with the spices and red pesto.

Chicken Harissa Skewer

Our zuppa de funghi, a creamy mushroom soup is well-made and appeases our taste buds immediately.

The flavours tease our palates and we look forward to our mains. The classic crepes sound inviting as does the spaghetti bhuna ghosht, but we settle for the Pollo ala Indiana instead. The herb scented pilaf rice with creamy cubed chicken is strongly reminiscent of a stroganoff and thus naturally comforting.

There are vegetarian options too although the menu leans in the favour of carnivores. Chef Roshan has crafted an interesting menu and plays around dexterously with flavours and textures. The clay oven section dishes are worth a try as well.

For desserts, we gorged on the chocolate lava cake, which simply melt-in-the-mouth.

Cafe Bandra has the potential to become a fun, hang out place for the younger crowd, given its location, ambience, array of cocktails and affordably priced food. Only, the service staff needs to be a tad better trained.

Rating : 3/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indulgently Indian

Thalis in Indian cuisine, are my weakness. The sheer variety and sight of small vatis or katoris with different dishes in a glistening thali attract me. The Grand Thali Feast at Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai which begins today and goes on until July 23, daily for dinner, naturally was something which beckoned me. I was fortunate to get a preview last night.

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Curated by Chef Vinod Singh Rana of Soma and his team, the thali looked delightful and appetizing as expected. In fact I even witnessed the thalis being set in the spotlessly clean and well-planned kitchen.

I opted for the Non-vegetarian option with laal maas, a typical Rajasthani preparation of mutton which is lip-smacking. Naturally, that was the first dish I tried and it turned out to be one of the best lal-maas preparations I have ever had. Often hyped, it disappoints owing to too much spice and a rich and heavy gravy. But this one was a palate-pleaser. The yogurt was just right, as were the other spices and the texture of the succulent mutton pieces, slow-cooked, were just the way I enjoy mine.

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The other dishes on my thali included Rajasthani bhindi, sev tamatar, batata-nu-shaak, kadhi, dal, khichdi, thepla, rotla, puri, rice and of course lot of farsan in the form of khandvi, dhokla, samosa, patra made of arbi leaves, et al. Each dish was distinct in its flavours and textures and obviously painstakingly prepared. The taste of each Rajasthani and Gujarati dish was authentic with no room for compromise.

Desserts were the highlight of my meal with malpua and rabdi and of course the quintessential, moong dal halwa, as I have an incurable sweet-tooth.

The quality of ingredients was expectedly the best and the flavours shone through with ease. A sumptuous meal, perhaps difficult to finish, but enjoyable nevertheless. I was satiated. The meetha paan served in a traditional manner was the perfect finale to this grand thali meal.

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One can also enjoy an array of delightful cocktails and mocktails themed to compliment the menu from their a la carte beverage menu.

Given the variety and the fact that it is unlimited, as well as being priced at an all inclusive price, at Rs 999 for veg and Rs 1111 for Non-veg, this thali is a steal and every gourmand fond of the diverse flavours of Rajasthan and Gujarat must head to Soma soon. Furthermore, the thali has 4 rotational menus, so even if you land up more than once in the ten days, you are likely to experience a new set of dishes.

Rating: 4/5

 

Holi Hai with Thandai and Paan ice creams

Holi is round the corner and the sweltering heat too has come along. Ice creams and coolers seem to be the answer to cope with this weather. Add to it the flavours synonymous with Holi- thandai. Naturally then, it is a winning combination.

Affordably priced, Papa Cream offers two special ubiquitous flavours to combat the summer heat and get refreshed.

I was fortunate to drop by at the Oshiwara outlet to witness the making of these flavours.

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Thandai Ice Cream:
 
One of the most traditional flavours of Holi is being served at Papacream in the form of a delicious scoop of ice cream. Made with heavy milk, poppy seeds, cashewnuts and infused with cardamom and saffron, topped with a light sprinking of almonds, rose petals and pistachios – this is perfect for your after playing Holi and gorging on a heavy meal. Of course I decided to indulge myself, even before Holi begins. The thandai flavour was distinct but not overpowering. Creamy with superior quality ingredients. That’s my verdict.
Price:
 
Single scoop Rs 100
Double scoop Rs 185
Tub Rs 450
Kolkata Meetha Paan with Gulkhand:
The paan lover that I am, I had to try this one too. And a Kolkata meetha paan in an ice cream form? Irresistible  The first bite and the leafy Mukhwaas with Gulkhand  enveloped my mouth. Sweet, spicy and all things nice. I was instantly rejuvenated.
The rich texture of the luscious ice cream appealed to me instantly and without a doubt, this flavour for me was the winner this Holi.
Price:
 
Single scoop: Rs 120
Double scoop:  Rs 200
Tub: Rs 470
Kolkata Meetha Paan Ice cream
The simple but aesthetic presentation of the ice cream, by the young lady at the Oshiwara Papa Cream outlet adds to the experience.
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So if you are looking to satiate your sweet cravings this Holi, opt for these new flavours from Papa Cream and given their reputation for quality and taste you will certainly get in to the spirit of the festival.

Popularising The Humble Hummus

There can be nothing more comforting than a bowl of hummus to dip warm pita bread into or even raw vegetable sticks when watching TV at home, or simply reading a book. I can gorge on hummus any time of the day and with almost anything.

A staple in the Middle East and Greece, hummus is a dip made of chickpeas ( Kabuli chanas), tahini or sesame, garlic, lemon juice and salt and of course Extra Virgin Olive oil and perhaps paprika flakes and is simple to make. However, one must have good quality ingredients and use them in the right proportion.

What’s more, packed with protein, fibre, it is tasty as well as healthy too and handy for quick snacks, lunches, party dips and what have you. There is so much you can do with hummus.

I love the basic plain hummus, but love exciting variants too. Of late, hummus has moved beyond its core ingredients to embrace flavours. People are clearly in the mood to experiment with different varieties of hummus.

I personally prefer to make hummus a day in advance and refrigerate it. The flavours tend to develop better, especially the garlic and the mixture thickens to the consistency, I enjoy. And voila! It is ready to be eaten.

I have often searched for the right hummus in Mumbai. Of course some restaurants serve it, but that is not feasible or viable to take away. Many other places offer it, but the quality and authenticity leaves a lot to be desired. Invariably, I am disappointed.

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Recently, I stumbled upon a hummus from Chef’s Basket (Fizzy Foodlabs) at the Nature’s Basket store in Lokhandwala, Andheri West.  With trepidation I picked up the attractively packaged box of fresh garlic hummus, priced affordably too. I came home and tried it. It not just met my expectations, but surpassed it, I must confess.

The texture was perfect, the flavours, authentic and palate-pleasing. And it struck me as fresh, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Just the way I make it at home. Oh! My joy knew no bounds. Finally my search for the perfect hummus had ended.

I am a self-confessed hummus addict. I can have it daily. New flavours in hummus excite me and I too keep experimenting. Sun dried tomatoes, basil, there is so much you can add to a hummus. Even herbs, Indian spices and more. Only, balance is key.

Am happy to see that hummus has moved to supermarket shelves and become more accessible and affordable. With Chef’s Basket offering Beetroot Hummus and Roasted Bell Pepper hummus, I am eagerly waiting to try those.

Got to put on my thinking caps as to how to use these two hummus variants when I buy them. Any suggestions as to what I should pair it with?

 

Fresh Flavours Galore

Salads are my weakness and Ministry of Salads sounded just like what I needed on this hot and humid Mumbai summer afternoon. So I trooped off to Bhulabhai Desai Road and lo behold, was pleasantly surprised to see this small, but cute and intimate café like eaterie. Salads galore, wraps, sandwiches, healthy juices. The display shelves were replete with the chicest of fresh ingredients and those looked so inviting. Behind the counters, the chefs were deftly tossing salads and preparing sandwiches. Looked like a lot of hard work.

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What’s more, just like make your own pizza or a wok these days, one could make one’s own salad. And there was a lot to choose from. Base, grains, exotic, comfort, pickles, muscle, being some of the several  interesting categories. Strictly vegetarian, the place has so much on offer, that even carnivores will not complain.

I settled for a watermelon and feta cheese salad. One of my all time favourites. Fresh and light,  but not extraordinary. The use of rock melon was clever and it complimented the water melon in more ways than one. The  Big Mix with green apple, rocket leaves, cherry tomatoes, broccoli et al,  boasted of a distinct roasted flavour and appeased my palate. The walnuts offered the right element of crunch and the tart green apple was palate pleasing. The lemon mirin dressing further enhanced the flavour quotient.

The unique feature of each salad was their freshness and superior quality ingredients. That’s what made it stand apart.

An Egg Caesar salad with its melange of flavours was delightful and filling. Black Eye, Shabdkosh, Lentil Mental, were other options which caught my eye. Next time perhaps.
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Apart from Signature Salads, there are sandwiches and wraps too, if you are still hungry. The Pesto  Wich sandwich in a multigrain bread was equally a treat for my taste buds. Laden with mozarella, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, there was something familiar and comforting about it. Very home style.

The Leb Mex wrap, was a pleasant surprise. Made of a spinach dough, the wrap felt healthy from word go with hummus, zucchini, spinach and jalapenos. It could have been a little more substantial I thought. Felt a little inadequate, given the price.
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My Pomegranate, ginger and celery cleanser was freshness and wellness personified. Loved it from the first sip. Green apple, carrot, lemon and honey was equally a healthy potion. There are a plethora of options to suit each one’s taste preferences. So no question of boredom setting in.

Apart from the table menu for a dining in experience, there is a takeaway menu. The salads are exceedingly well packed and not mercilessly stuffed in a box. I was happy to witness that.
Lucky people in that area who can order in every other day.

A global concept of a place dedicated to salads this place will be a haven for the health conscious.

Rating : 3.5/5

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.

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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.

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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.