Tag Archives: Bar

Vibrant cafe, eclectic bar : Canto

The ambience of Canto all day cafe and bar, in Girgaum, South Mumbai, which transforms into a high energy pulsating place in the evening transports you to a cheery cafe in Europe. The natural light filtering in through the French windows and the roominess all around adds to the charm. The welcoming vibe is comforting and beckons you immediately.

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Seated on a corner table I skim through the menu which offers a vast variety of global food with chef’s own twist. Soups, salads, small plates, mains, desserts are what you can expect to find here. Mushroom on toast, chilli polenta, are bound to tease the Vegetarian palate. Carnivores have a lot to choose from. Chimichurri chicken tikka, lamb meatball, eggs kejriwal and more. Those seeking something light yet filling can settle for the pizza, sandwiches and burgers.

Watermelon salad at Canto

The sambar risotto sounds exciting and entices me immediately. A spoonful of it and am convinced of chef’s creative streak. The spicy flavours mesh well with the creamy risotto. Banana wrapped fish too is worth a try. Served with fried rice, it is value for money and the delicate flavours are handled with flourish.

The bar menu here is equally eclectic and well crafted offering something for everyone, no matter what your tipple. The bar is well-stocked and eye-catching too in terms of decor – aesthetic and classy.

Molten chocolate, crepe suzette, tiramisu are among the dessert offerings. Simple but well made.

The ingredients used are of great quality, the cooking styles have been kept simple and the food is flavoursome. The presentation, is appealing and the staff is warm and amiable.

This is the kind of place one can sit quietly for hours, reading a book and tucking into the food all by oneself or relaxing with friends in the evening with good food, music and fun cocktails.  Truly, Canto is your neighbourhood cafe and bar alright. Only wish I was residing in South Mumbai for once!

Rating : 3.5/5

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Taste of India

I was ecstatic when I first heard that Neel,  one of my favourite restaurants from deGustibus hospitality was opening a new outlet at Powai in the same premises, alongside an Indigo Deli. My joy doubled. But there was more. This was not the same Neel as the one in Mahalaxmi Racecourse. It was going to be an All day dining place offering simple, authentic Indian food from across the country. Much as I enjoy the lip-smacking Awadhi delicacies served at Neel, Tote on the Turf, I was relieved. I could indulge in my guilty pleasures, more than just once in a while now.

Sadly, I missed the buzzing opening party, but stepped in on the Monday after, for a leisurely lunch to experience Neel, Indian Kitchen plus bar, in its new avatar.

Whew! the plush interiors and the wooden staircase that led me up, seemed straight out of a European setting. The first part was obviously Indigo Deli casual and elegant with an air of bonhomie and the second part was Neel the Indian Kitchen and Bar. The natural light filtering in and the understated but chic decor,  the dash of blue to give it an eclectic touch, gave me a good vibe immediately.I felt naturally comfortable.

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I was privileged to get a sneak preview as the restaurant has not yet opened to guests and patrons. It opens doors officially on September 14.

Warm hospitality as ever. Chatting with Anurag Katriar, CEO & Executive Director, deGustibus Hospitality, JD, the Corporate Executive Chef and of course the Man at the helm of Neel’s Kitchen, Chef Mukhtar Qureshi, it promised to be a great afternoon.

Anurag informed me that,  at Neel Indian Kitchen + Bar  they have hand-picked culinary gems from various parts of India and put them together on a single gastronomic platform. An all-day diner with an eclectic bar, Neel, celebrates true Indian food amidst a contemporary setting. “Good Food-Served well”, was after all their hospitality credo.

Dhanewal murgh ka shorba (a light aromatic chicken broth flavoured with coriander) was served. The mild flavours of the spicy shorba, replete with coriander, was comforting and the perfect way to tease my taste buds. I was ready to savour the rest of my meal.

My Tellichery pepper chicken Kerala style, arrived. The aroma of the pepper filled my nostrils, as I was being served. A type of pepper which is aromatic and spicy, but not too pungent and rough, it enveloped the succulent pieces of chicken well and along with curry leaves and southern spices, was a delightful way to begin.

The stuffed mushrooms too were delectable given the cheese and spinach filling, but what made it stand apart was the apricot or jardalu chutney served alongside. It actually revved up the flavour quotient unimaginably.

I could not believe Chef Mukhtar Qureshi’s mastery over Indian cuisine as a whole. I was actually spellbound. Here I was tasting dishes from Southern India, Konkan, Bihar and all over, and each one was a masterpiece.  I had always known him for his lip-smacking Awadhi food, but this man was obviously full of surprises.

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The Sukka squid was swathed in a delicious coconut masala and an interesting texture, took my taste buds by storm. But the piece de resistance in the starters was the Konkani Jhinga, without a doubt. It resembled the Cafreal masala from Goa, as I first looked at it. It was pan seared prawns coated in a similar  green masala but yet, different and distinct, as I discovered upon the first bite. It wowed my palate beyond words and the moistness in the prawns even though they were pan-seared, impressed me.

The Allepey Aloo was flawless, but paled in comparison today to the other dishes.

My  gastronomic journey continued with the Mutton bhuna roast  and a Malabari parotha. The soft, flaky parotha paired well with the fleshy, melt-in-the mouth, robust, mutton which was well-spiced but not overly rich or oily. In fact nothing in the meal was greasy or heavy. That to my mind was the real achievement of the chef. Else going through so much of food would have been a daunting task.

The new Neel also offers an extensive array of chaats, tikkis et al,  if you want a filling evening snack or a light lunch perhaps, but of course I had to save that experience for another day.

The grand finale to round off my memorable meal was the gulkand paan ice cream made in house. The flavours of paan and gulkand were strong and appeased my taste buds. The element of sweetness was just right and the texture was creamy and smooth.

The menu here, is an amalgamation of  food from across India representing all the regions, ranging from the popular street foods of Kolkata & Rajasthan, to pure Kashmiri & Konkani fare. Chef Qureshi has painstakingly revived age-old, often forgotten spice blends like lazzat e taam, Baristha masala and using ethnic ingredients such Khas ka jadh, dagad ka phool, pan ka jadh, kebab chini, mulhatti, chandan.

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No wonder the food at Neel, is not run-of-the-mill fare but carefully crafted, to appeal to all palates.

I had almost traversed all of India in one afternoon, thanks to my epicurean journey at Neel. I left satiated, smiling, but with a promise to return.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let there be light in your life!

An entry into Light House Cafe Khar, Mumbai transports you into an eclectic and pulsating place. The decor is chic and the bulbs all over add an interesting element to the place. The vibe is unmistakable. You know at once you are in a happening place.
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We did not like the sound of the two Mocktails that were on offer the preview night and they were kind enough to serve us one of our choice- Italiano. This apple juice based mocktail was refreshing and had the right amount of zing. We loved it. We were off to a great beginning for sure.

Pepper and Lime calamari came next. One can rarely go wrong with Calamari. Delicious. But the size of the calamari struck me as too small which deprived one of the real joy of relishing this sea food delicacy. Furthermore, it was a tad over- fried. But the flavours were good nevertheless.

The Murg Sonali Kebab, was a treat for the palate. King sized chicken pieces, well marinated and grilled to perfection. Ignited our palate.

The music was getting louder and the place was buzzing. A closer look at the menu revealed that the offerings both drinks and food are so affordably priced. Really pocket- friendly.

The cocktails sounded exciting with unusual names n unique ingredients but we decided to give it a miss.

In the mains we tried the Udon noodles first. Soupy n light these had a subtle, Palate- tickling flavour. The Masala chickpea tagine was a pleasant surprise. With just a hint of spices, one could actually savour each ingredient. Only wish the portions were a wee bit bigger.

The Grilled BBQ Chicken had a delightful presentation and an equally tantalising taste. The pairing with cous cous gave it an edge.

Sadly no desserts in the menu. Sorely missed and shouldbe included in the menu I feel.

Interior Image, Light House Cafe

Light House cafe is definitely a place which is going to pick up and be a hot spot. The service staff could do with some more training and finesse.

Food n Mocktails Rating : 3/5

This one is making waves! Radio Bar

Radio Bar. The name sounded intriguing enough. And an entry into the place proved to be even more exciting. Bric-a -bracs, posters, every bit of the space is transformed to look and sound like a Radio place. Yes, sound there is plenty. The place is buzzing with Bandraites and many SoBo inhabitants too. Not to forget the pulsating music. With tow seating areas, currently, we opted for the outdoor one, with superb air conditioning.

Undoubtedly Hitesh Keswani has created yet another great place after Silver Beach Cafe.

Chef Rohan D’souza of The Treesome Cafe has left his mark on the menu. One glance at it and you can see his signature style. No complaints, as the menu is great even though this is meant to be a bar. I am talking about the food section of course. Pizza, Pastas, Risottos, Bakes, Stir fry, salads. Whew! Impressive. A lot of vegetarian option too.

Our mocktails arrived. Yupp. No alcohol for us. Pineapple Parasaol with pineapple juice, peach puree et al (that is what the description said) was a huge disappointment. No imagination here. Just an ordinary mix of fruit juices. Boring and staid. My husband’s Virgin Watermelon Sangria was a tad better, though not exactly exciting.

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The food however did the trick. The fish cakes had a wow presentation and an even better taste. Well-fried, the patty was generously filled with delectable fish and the sun-dried tomato jam with it was mind-blowing. We had got over our mocktails.

The South African chicken skewers were spicy, succulent and well-grilled. Luscious flavours enveloped our mouth and we were smiling again.

Our Water melon goat cheese salad too was delightful but a wee bit expensive I thought, given the portion. The fresh, quality ingredients used deserve a thumbs up.

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The F&B staff warned me about the slightly bitter taste of the avocado cream in my spaghetti. I was all prepared. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise and I was glad I ordered it. The dish was well presented, appealing and tasty. The avocado cream paired well with the spaghetti and the chives, et al complimented it. The falafel bites that came along were over fried and too hard to bite into. Did not enjoy their texture or flavour, but that did not take away the taste of the rest of the excellent dish. Loved it.

Offering specialities of a global cuisine, the menu consists of dishes that have been created by merging eastern and western flavours to a classic. That is indeed laudable. Although we did not try those, The Singapore rock crab lasagne, Radio Bar Truffle Extravaganza Pizza sounded interesting

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The Bar Menu is an exercise in choices. I glanced at it even though I was not going to indulge. Radio Special Mojito, Creme Brule Martini, Avocado Margarita among others, caught my eye.

A quick dinner is what we had. Were out in an hour. So that speaks for the efficient service, albeit not flawless. The F&B staff who serves needs to be a bit better trained. They pour over your table a la minute, not giving you time to enjoy your meal. Not the ideal situation.

I am definitely going back for the good food. Have to try the pizza and some bakes. And yes, for the music too.

Rating: 3.5 for the food only 🙂

Flavours of a bygone era : The Sahib Room & Kipling’s Bar

Dear Memsahib……my invite read. That set my pulse racing. It was like being transported to the style and elegance of the colonial era. I expected The Sahib Room & Kipling’s Bar at Palladium Hotel to be intimidating with a stiff-upper lip atmosphere, but I was wrong. The restaurant and bar are well-designed and exude bon-vivant chic, but, with a warm and friendly vibe, which immediately puts you at ease.

Sipping my Elaichi Daab- an interesting mix of coconut, almond and cardamom, I soaked in the ambience of this tastefully done up Kipling’s Bar. I couldn’t help notice a seat reserved for the famed writer Rudyard Kipling, with his spectacles, pipe et al who is supposedly away on a break.

A while later we shifted to the Sahib Room for the rest of our meal. A superlative menu with Awadhi and North West frontier specialities greeted us. There was style and sophistication even in the manner in which the food was served. Phalon ka shorba- the spiced mandarin orange soup could not have been a better start to our gastronomic journey. A unique, mildly flavoured, refreshing soup. Easily one of the best I have ever tasted. Dhungari Kumbh- Coal smoked forest mushrooms rubbed with fresh cilantro & ginger which came next, took my palate by storm. Melt-in-the mouth mushrooms with a smoky flavor were a never-before experience for my tastebuds. The idea of incorporating Philadelphia cream cheese in the Brocolli Dak Bangla appealed to me immensely. The cheese complimented the tart mustard flavor. We savoured each morsel in a relaxed atmosphere with attentive, but unobtrusive staff.

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Jaituni Pomfret was equally a delight with simple, rustic flavours. Nothing overpowering to mask the taste of the fish. And that is what good cooking is all about. There was no scope to go wrong with the Gongura Jhinga either. Succulent prawns, marinated to perfection. My tastebuds had experienced Nirvana already, but there was more to come.

The zafrani taftan and tandoori naan paired well with the Murg Awadhi korma, which was strongly reminiscent of my grandmother’s cooking. Flavourful and comforting with freshly ground spices. The gravy was lip-smacking. Purvanchal saag was an amalgamation of fresh greens, with a hint of spice, just enough to tantalise your appetite. What can I say about the Sasranga meat? This Kashmiri preparation of lamb, with spices was the piece de resistance that evening. Cooked to perfection, the meat cubes were soft and creamy, meshed in a puree of aromatic spices, flavorful, yet, gentle on the palate.  So delicious and satisfying was this, that we decided to skip the biryani, something I would normally never miss. Thanks to the fresh and quality ingredients, we did not feel uneasy after our meal.

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It was time for some guilty pleasure. The Kolkata meetha paan ice cream had strong paan flavours in a velvety texture, with the right amount of sweetness. In the same vein, was the paan rasogulla, but with different flavours, which lent themselves beautifully to the soft rasogulla. Angoori rabdi was rich and creamy in texture with a burst of sweetness in the mouth. An appropriate finale to a royal repast. Chef Paul Kinny and his team ensure you will go back for more.

 

Upbeat & Interactive : IBAR

Not a great one to drink, I am normally not very excited to step into a bar, because the food there is obviously not the mainstay and thus nothing to write home about. However, IBAR at Bandra West, Mumbai proved me wrong.

The Interactive Bar started by young entrepreneur Lakhan Jethani, who is the Director, is certainly a must-visit place if you enjoy unusual drinks and food. Well- versed in bartending and molecular mixology himself, Lakhan dishes out great Chocolate Martini, Kamikaze Shot with a beer and lime foam and Mai-Tai, to name a few. He clearly enjoys being behind the bar and knows the pulse of his generation – the youth.

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The Apple Sangria with black grape caviar – with strawberry and tequila infused jelly that I was sipping was refreshing and visually appealing. It was fun selecting one’s menu from the IPad that was handed over to us. The Cajun Spiced potatoes, with their sweet buttery flavour complimented the spicy Cajun. Served with a blue cheese dip, these were luscious.

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I have a weakness for sea food and the tequila glazed prawns completely bowled me over. The spirit is heated in up in a glass and poured over the dish flaming in front of the guest. That created even more magic.

There was more of sea food. Beer Batter Fish Fingers came next. Fresh sea basa fillet, marinated with olive oil, chives and coriander, salt pepper coated with a beer batter and deep fried served with fries and tartar dip. You can’t go wrong with fish fingers anyway. The surprise of the evening was the Mushroom Foccacia. Coated with an olive tapenade and topped with wild mushrooms, it teased my palate beyond comparison.

Chef’s special kebabs were equally a treat and the chef thus proved his versatility. The newly introduced Sushi was a great hit. Salmon and cream cheese sushi appealed the most to me. And surprisingly vegetable California roll came a close second. The sushi had distinct flavours, were neatly rolled and the wasabi tasted just right.

The main course is understandably limited but the place does have some good pastas and risottos, as well as Thai curry and rice.

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Aesthetically a well-done up place, it is a fun place for youngsters to relax and unwind. And yes, for the first time I found the finger food at a Bar to be delicious and imaginative.