The spirits during this season are high and there isn’t any reason, why we can’t enjoy the festive season, without consuming any spirits. Is that possible? Of course it is… in fact, there are plenty of delightful seasonal beverages that can help you ring in the yuletide festivities without compromising on your desire to go alcohol free or risking the fact of getting drowned in alcohol.
Brun maska, cloyingly sweet chai, khari biscuits, are so Bambaiya and the Irani cafes at which we relish these are such an intrinsic part of our lives in Mumbai. Or shall I say, were? Yes, unfortunately, the favourite hangout of many of us -the Irani Cafes are fast disappearing. No wonder, when I first heard of SodaBottleOpenerWala opening in Mumbai and Restaurateurs duo, Sabina and AD Singh doing their best to keep the flag of Irani cafes flying high, I was both touched and thrilled.
After opening several SBOWs (as we fondly call these), across India, Mumbai too got its first one recently in Mumbai’s plush BKC.
Getting a table here at night is an achievement by itself. We were lucky, as Shonali the Manager, juggled one for us albeit near the bar. That was in fact the most happening area with mixologists displaying their flair for bartending, adeptly preparing and mixing an array of drinks.
Shekangebin is what we opted for. Shikanji with jaggery, prune pieces was refreshing as it was sweet. Served in rustic, but cute bottles, it got our vote instantly. Of course there were several alcoholic and non alcoholic options in the menu. Raspberry soda was tempting but I let that be for another time.
SBOW is definitely a happy place with a great vibe to it which welcomes you immediately and you feel at home from word go. So typical of an Irani cafe too. Warmth personified.
Our Chicken Farcha arrived. Boneless pieces of chicken fried to perfection with a spicy and delicious taste. I loved the way it was served in the traditional way on aluminium trays et al. No frills and yet, so appealing
Spicy mushroom on khari was delectable. Expectedly oily of course but we were not complaining. The mushroom topping was creamy and left you craving for more. The place was teeming with people who were having a good time. Us included.
How can one come to an Irani cafe and not eat keema pav? We succumbed and later, patted ourselves on the back for our perfect choice. The keema with its sweet spicy and tangy flavours was so typically reminiscent of the real one we are all used to. Served with the hot pav, it was a great combination. I have so many fond memories associated with this dish.
A plethora of mutton dishes are on the menu to tantalise the taste buds of mutton lovers. And of course chicken too.
The menu here has been well-planned and with Chef Darius at the helm, there is no concern about the authenticity of the dishes. But I like the fact that apart from Parsi and Irani favourites, Mumbai street food, which we all cannot do without is also included. Dhanshak (classic Parsi dish of mutton with lentils and served with caramelized rice and kachumber), Paatra Ni Macchi (chutney steamed pomfret), our version of the Berry Pulao (veg, chicken and mutton), Prawn Patio (A tangy prawn preparation, sweet, sour and mildly spicy) and other old time favourites like Sali Mutton and Chicken, Goan Fish Curry, Chicken Baida Roti inspired from Bade Miya, occupy a pride of place on the menu.
Vegetarians can equally feel at home at SBOW. Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet, Tardeo A/c Market Mamaji’s Grilled Sandwich and the Bombay Raasta Sandwich, Bharuchi Paneer Akuri with dry fruits et al, are dishes everyone and anyone who loves food will enjoy.
The rules don’t change. One has got to keep space for the bakery items when at an Irani cafe and we did the same at SBOW. Freshly baked in the morning and sold by the piece, there is a wide selection and everyone can find their favourite item on the menu, I assure you. From Badam Nan Khatai to Shrewsbury Biscuit, Mawa Cake to Lagan nu Custard, there is everything. I gorged on the Apple Pie with Custard. The custard was a bit too sweet for my palate but the warm apple pie, filled generously with all things nice was an absolute delight and comforting.
This quirky SBOW, encapsulating all the elements of a typical Irani cafe in terms of decor, bric-a-bracs and more, is a must-visit for anyone who loves Irani food and fun. One can relax, enjoy great food and service, here.
This SodaBottleOpenerWala opens its doors and lets you into a place which is bound to be special to any Mumbaikar.
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.
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.
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
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 🙂
Villa 69 at Juhu Circle, has always intrigued me, but somehow I have never stepped in. The new menu beckoned me and I finally experienced the place. Chef Dev Singh Negi has launched a new South East Asian & Mediterranean menu, incorporating seasonal flavours. That was reason enough for me to pay a visit.
The pristine white plush interiors of the Cafe appealed to me at first sight. The place spread lavishly over several thousand sq ft. is a treat for the eyes. The fine dining area with a dance floor is chic and sophisticated. There is also an outdoor seating area. It is obviously a popular place with the younger crowd.
With a wide variety of options to choose from and indulge, Villa 69 promises to treat your taste buds with fascinating flavours. The new menu was fairly exhaustive with soups, starters, salads, pizza, pastas, main course and desserts. And plenty of vegetarian options. The drinks menu was an exercise in choices, but we decided to skip it altogether.
Our sea food laksa soup was eclectic. The coconut milk was subtle, compared to several places where it overpowers the flavours of the sea food and other spices. The hallmark of a good chef, I thought immediately. Generous amount of sea food laced the soup replete with spices et al. Heart- warming and flavourful. We had got on to a good start.
Harissa fish with hummus came next. I am not a great fan of basa fish so thought I will not enjoy it, but was wrong. The chef had astutely pepped up the otherwise bland fish with spices and flavourings. The onion rings offered the right amount of crunch. It ignited our taste buds and we looked forward to our main course.
Chef Dev Singh Negi, I noticed, uses herbs like Tahina in several dishes. He has been inspired by global cuisines and has amalgamated several dishes in his new menu. Balinese dishes like Ayam Pelalah, a Balinese BBQ chicken, Aubergine Pate, Tahina Chicken Skewers, Cottage Cheese Piccata, were other items on the menu as starters. The presentation of all dishes was like poetry on plate. Chef Negi definitely has an eye for details.
The Mushroom Pepper chicken in the main course was delectable and sumptuous. A value for money meal with a chicken breast, veggies on a bed of mashed potatoes and an interesting sauce. The Pan Fried noodles in a light soya sauce, that I sampled were equally a treat. Lots of chicken pieces and a fair amount of veggies too. The noodles were just meant for my taste buds. No MSG or artificial flavours. Perfect.
We rounded off a wonderful meal with a jar dessert – a choco molten cake. Gooey and rich, it transported us to heaven. There was a red velvet one too which we skipped.
The service is attentive and prompt, the ambience relaxing with foot-tapping music and Chef Negi’s menu, the raison d’etre to visit Villa 69. I am so glad I did. It was definitely an unforgettable dining experience. No run- of- the- mill stuff here.
It is always a delight to dine at the Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mahalaxmi. Even more so, because it reinvents itself each year, by having a new pop up. First it was the lip-smacking Greek food with Thalassa and the vivacious owner-chef Mariketty Grana and now it is Guppy by Ai, with Japanese fusion cuisine from a popular Delhi based Olive brand restaurant. What particularly appeals to me is how the entire decor is changed and the place transforms itself according to the cuisine being served. Kudos!
There was an exhaustive a la carte menu and a drinks menu, but we decided to skip that and settle for the fixed menu. Less confusing and it offered a great deal of variety too. I opted for a Miso soup( can never resist that) and it was flavourful. as always. Comforting and gentle on the palate. The Mushroom suimono- clear soup with mushrooms was equally delightful. The vegetarian sushi always surprises me and it did here too. It was well rolled, filled to perfection and boasted of authentic flavours. The wasabi, horseradish and soya completed the experience. The non vegetarian sushi of the day was with tuna and was lip-smacking of course.
But what took me by surprise was the salad. Perked my taste buds instantly. The tangy flavour and crunchy texture were married perfectly. Full marks here. The service was prompt, the ambience, vibrant, yet relaxing.
Flat udon noodles with mushrooms and chicken arrived next. The fragrant garlic sticky rice enticed me from the bowl itself. My jumbo prawns and the chicken teriyaki complimented these as if they were made for each other. We relished each morsel. A plethora of flavours burst open in our mouth, yet, not overpowering. The prawns were fresh and succulent and the crispy layer on the chicken, imparted an interesting texture to the dish. We were satiated.
The dessert platter with teeny-weeny cakes, was a tad disappointing. Bite sized to the extent that the flavours were non existent on the palate. Maybe serving one or two items, but of a bigger size maybe a better idea? The herbal green tea to round off such a delicious meal, made us feel less guilty. A good inclusion in the menu.
Tapping your feet to the lively music, enjoying your food and the ambience is all a part of being at Guppy pop up. It is a dining pleasure, you will not want to miss. So make the most of it while it is there.
After SBX Sports Bar at Bhandup, being a huge let down, I walked into TAP, a sports bar from the China Gate group on Link Road Andheri with baited breath.
The place looked snazzy, pulsating with music and sufficiently crowded for a Sunday night. The screens projected the FIFA World cup matches and the sports accessories and bric-a-brac matched to boot. The mood and ambience were clearly reminiscent of a sports bar. On the right track I thought.
The service staff was lost. Too many of them running around in circles, but not really attentive to a guests’ needs. After catching the eye of one of them, we ordered our mocktails. We opted for an Orange Flute and Melon Ball. Both the drinks to our dismay were cloyingly sweet. Not as refreshing as I would have liked mine to be.
The menu seems exhaustive- Mexican, Indian, Italian, Chinese. They have everything on offer. Yet, it is not too appealing for some reason. Too much choice maybe?
Mole Polo a chicken dish arrived as our first starter. Roasted cubes of chicken in a mole sauce – red or green. That ‘s what the description stated. But sadly, no one asked us our preference. We were served the red one. The chicken pieces were chewy and almost tasted insipid. The sauce, a trifle better, did nothing to enhance the flavour. A real dampener.
The Pablano Grilled Fish was relatively better. At least it was well marinated and tingled our taste buds to some extent.
We were keen to try the Butterfly Prawns but were suggested Paprika Prawns Tonga instead. A poor mish mash of chicken and prawns, the dish did justice to neither. The chicken pieces completely overpowered the prawns flavour, resulting in a not- so exciting dish.
To play it safe we opted for a Mexican cowboy salad. Not much scope to go wrong there. Decent fare but nothing to salvage our lost taste buds. We decided to skip the main course completely.
The vibe and energy of the place is infectious and the music foot-tapping, albeit a bit loud as the hours tick by. A good mix of sports and entertainment, TAP is the perfect place to relax and unwind with friends and family but the food and service need to be stepped up for sure.
Irish House may keep opening outlets across the city of Mumbai, but each one continues to surprise you and has an aura of mystique about it. Stepping into one, never tires me. I was as gung-ho about exploring the Andheri West outlet, as I was when I had been to the first one in Lower Parel, several aeons ago.
The characterstic décor and ambience greeted us. Teeming with people, this place was pulsating. It seemed oh-so! Familiar and yet new. Loved it from word go.
Once seated, we settled for Drunken mushrooms. These oven roasted infused with tequila, topped with spinach, goat cheese n parmesan were the perfect beginning. Absolutely melt-in-the-mouth and with an array of flavours and textures in one dish. we were ready for the evening.
As I sipped my refreshing Kiwi & Lime Iced tea, I bit into the Wasabi japonica – rock shrimp tossed in wasabi mayo. Ooh! I was in for a huge disappointment. Gooey, doused in mayo, the shrimps had lost their taste, texture and flavour completely. Luckily the Irish Sergeant potato skins came to our rescue and revived our taste buds. The cheesy potato skins with corn, were familiar to my palate and I realised those were such a safe bet.
Goat cheese salad came next. Warm goat cheese with kalamata olives, goat cheese, plum tomatoes n parmesan croutons, salads are my comfort food anyway and this one too proved to be just that. The crunchy salad with the tangy olives, soft creamy goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette teased our taste buds sufficiently. My palate was cleansed and ready for the next dish.
Traditional stuffed chicken in a pastry shell served with a rosemary merlot sauce indeed ended up being “our” chicken dish that evening and we were floored with it. Baked to perfection, the crispy pastry shell was an ideal complement to the chicken and the sauce added the right amount of flourish. We decided to share it as it seemed too big to relish alone. It was a sensible decision. After all the dark bottom Kahlua verrine was waiting for us. A treat for the taste buds, it was sinful as expected but not cloyingly sweet. A bit heady too, but just the right flavours. A winning combination.
The menu of course is exhaustive with typical favourites like Smokie’s Lamb pie, hearty burgers, Fish n chips, Hunter’s penne et al. Each dish is value for money, robust and filling. That’s what appeals to me about Irish House.
The sight of young people guzzling draught beers and enjoying themselves is common. Adds to the ambience actually.
All in all, a great evening, with foot-tapping music, refreshing drinks and delicious food. I want to go back soon!