Tag Archives: global

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

Getting Cheesy

‘Say Cheese’. A common expression used by photographers when they want their subject/s to smile during a photo session. I am an exception. Cheese, makes me smile anyway, as I love it. Naturally then, the very thought of an entire promotion dedicated to cheese, at 1441 Pizzeria, Mumbai at Fort and Lokhandwala, Andheri West, titled’ Say Cheese Festival’ made me smile ear to ear. I was visibly excited.

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An entire new menu curated around cheese.  What more could a cheese lover like me ask for? Camembert and blue cheese pizza, buratta pizza, fromage blanc pizza, feta cheese pizza, smoky cheese pizza, were some of the exciting offerings on this menu.

I tried a piece each of some of the varieties at the Lokhandwala outlet and was blown away by the quality of the cheese. They had obviously used the best and that made all the difference to the taste of the pizza. The fresh ingredients and flavours were bursting and seeking attention. The techniques, precision and variety at 144 Pizzeria has always impressed me.

 

The Camembert and blue cheese pizza was delightful. The flavours in sharp contrast, yet complementary. The smoky pizza was, as expected, a treat for the palate with the smoky flavours, enveloping my taste buds. The crunch came in the form of veggies, olives, in many of the pizza.

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But the piece de resistance that evening was the coffee pizza. I have never eaten anything  quite like that before. Dessert pizza, with chocolates, fruits et al, in abundance, made by the best Italian chefs, but this coffee pizza was unique. The honey, spices, herbs, jalapenos, were high on flavours and then, the drizzle of strong coffee powder teased your taste buds, just the right amount. The contrast was evident and spectacular. I lauded the mastery of the person who created this concept and of course those, who were skilfully, executing it.

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The in-house Italian sauces, used in each pizza were lip-smacking and different. The usage of vegetables and other ingredients was apt, in the right proportion. Even the cheese did not overpower any of the pizza flavours. The crust, as always, was just perfect for me.

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The enthusiastic staff, their positive energy and desire to see a guest satisfied, is praiseworthy. I love the fact that they are well-informed and able to explain the pizza offerings on the menu exceedingly well to a guest.

I left, satiated and smiling. I was, inadvertently, saying cheese, as that was what was on my mind and in my stomach:)

On till, May 31, this ‘Say Cheese’ festival is not to be missed if you are a cheese lover or a pizza lover or both.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

Around the World With Ten Pizzas

Endowed with an adventurous palate, I embarked upon a gastronomic journey last night at California Pizza Kitchen at Infiniti Mall Malad, Mumbai. After all it was an exciting Pizza Trail with pizzas from across the world!

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Sipping our Malta & Pom and Melon Duo, in virgin avatars, we were sufficiently rejuvenated and got a respite from the humidity outside. The menu looked interesting. A variety of Pizzas from all over the globe, highlighting the varied flavours of each country. Our drinks were well-made, with liberal amount of fresh fruit pieces, fresh juice et al, creatively served in jars. Value for money, all the way!

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To begin with, we settled for the Lebanese Grill chicken. The succulent pieces of chicken were flawless in texture and flavour and grilled to perfection. The marinade too was distinct, as were the herbs. Yet, it was a tad bland for my palate. The Charmula fried fish gave me no scope for disappointment. Crisply fried, the fillet was melt in the mouth and the accompanying lime cream sauce added the right amount of zest.

The Cheeseburger pizza was strongly recommended by the chef. We complied. And it was a great choice. Laden with the goodness of cheese, it was like having a burger in a Pizza form. Delectable. The chicken cubes, generously layered, added to the experience.

Cheese Burger Pizza

As a Vegetarian option, we opted for the Thai curry pizza. While the characteristic Thai flavours were pronounced, something seemed missing in this one and it failed to tease my taste buds. Perhaps it was a bit too dry? I loved the presentation though.

Of course there were a host of exciting options on the menu that Pizza lovers can choose from. Verdure from Italy or Peri Peri from South Africa, in vegetarian and non vegetarian versions.

The Banoffee Bombe was an absolute treat and exploded in my mouth, quite literally. A rather large serving and filled with chocolate and coffee mousse, banana and dulce de leche cream. The marriage of flavours couldn’t be more heavenly. The mousse was creamy, soft and just the way it should be. The banana flavours were not overpowering and enhanced the taste of this otherwise, sinful dessert.

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The prompt and courteous staff at CPK is always a delight to have around. This is my favourite outlet.

The ingredients used struck me as fresh, of the finest quality and the variety, mind-boggling. An enjoyable bit of globe-trotting, I indulged in.

Rating: 3.5/5

Worth Taking This World Tour

Who doesn’t like travelling and that too if it is a culinary tour? I embarked on world tour to discover the best burgers and beers at Woodside Andheri West, as part of their Around The World in 20 days Beer and Burgers Festival. Of course one has an option to go to their Colaba outlet too.

As I bit into I first burger, I could not help lament the fact that though this festival was in its 8th edition, I was stepping in to experience it for the first time. Better late than never I guess!

Pioneering the concept of pairing freshly flipped burgers and hand-crafted brews, Woodside this year,  has upped its offerings and has introduced burgers and beers from around the world, starting from July 14 to August 2, 2015.

The specially curated Burger Menu by Executive Chef. Subhash Shirke was impressive and well-rounded. He was catering to every palate. Burgers from India, France, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Japan, USA. Whew!  And in keeping with the latest craze for Craft Beers, they had handpicked artisanal craft beers from Gateway Brewing Company and Independence Brewing Company to enhance  the dining experience.

Not a beer fan exactly, I decided to steer clear from those. The best ones could not tempt me. Burgers were enough to satiate me. My Argentinian Chimichuri Chicken Burger arrived. Well-presented with french fries in a paper boat, an exciting dip, salad, et al. I settled for a sesame bun. The chicken patty was juicy and moist, unlike several burgers one is used to eating in Mumbai. And had exciting flavours to it too. Well spiced, it needed no dip actually. This robust burger was perfect just by itself.

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The Peruvian Rock shrimp burger, was my next choice. A generous helping of shrimps for sure, as the shrimps kept falling out of my burger bun. The shrimps were fresh and of a superior quality.  Absolutely melt-in-the-mouth. The flavours were a bit reminiscent of a Thai dish, but I was not complaining. Subtle no doubt, but delectable to the core. The dip along with was citrusy and extremely appetizing.

Sumptuous and filling, one could not think of tasting any other burger from the exhaustive menu. These were truly world class burgers.

The Napoli’  – Italian chicken burger (Italy), Brit sun day roast! (Britain), B’ in a ‘B’ – healthy eating in a bowl (US),  Duck Confit Burger  (France), Spanish RoastPork Belly Burger (Spain), were the other options and definitely sounded inviting. Meat lovers are going to relish these.

Apart from the non-veg selections, there were several unusual Veg ones. The Thai spiced lentil burger and Japanese Teriyaki Tofu Burger caught my attention. Would love to go back for those.

Each burger was aptly paired with a beer. Given the quality and freshness of the ingredients, portion sizes, the burgers were well-priced I thought.

The attentive staff and their prompt service, bowled me over. Not obtrusive, just the way I love it. It is always a pleasure to interact with polite and well-informed F&B staff and Cyril, was all that and more.

I returned home, with my taste-buds tingling in excitement, my tummy happy with the delicious burgers I had sampled. Good to have been to Woodside I thought!

Rating: 4/5

Country Curries at Shamiana

Taste buds are tantalized often and palates are pleased at many meals, but it is not everyday that you sample food that touches your soul. Curries of the World at Shamiana, Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai, was one such memorable experience.

While I have had the privilege of travelling a fair bit and experiencing several global cuisines, I have never tasted such an amazing array of delectable curries from across the world as created by Chef Amit Chowdhury and his team.

Shamiana had curated a special menu bringing together the innovative curries made using a complex combination of spices and herbs across the globe – Cape Town, Spain, Africa, Portuguese, Brazil The menu looked so inviting and the stories, behind each curry, interesting, that I read with rapt attention.

Our Pollo al curry, aka Spanish baked Chicken curry, Catalonia bread and Valencia style Mushroom and Beans arrived. I was floored with the presentation. Suddenly felt like royalty. The curry was light, with subtle flavours and extremely comforting. It soothed our palates. The beans and mushrooms accompaniment, added the right amount of crunch to the dish and perked our taste buds. Visually of course, it was poetry on plate, oops platter actually!

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We had just about soaked these flavours that our next, Guyanese crab curry was served. What can I say about this magnum opus of a dish? The Arabian Sea Crab curry, with Wild Rice and Hot peppers Relish was a treat for the eyes and undoubtedly for the palate. While our coastal crab curries in India are so heavily spiced (but delicious) this one was so fragrant and light. Delicately flavoured. The wild rice, was the highlight and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It had a bite to it which other varieties of rice don’t quite offer.

The Bunny Chow, our first vegetarian curry, was artistry by the chef. Durban Pumpkin, Baby Potatoes, Cottage cheese and Lima bean Curry served in Crusty bread, which had been scooped beautifully to become a serving dish. I was spellbound. I loved the way the vegetables were combined in a sweet-spicy thick curry and the crunchy bread paired well with it. Reminded me of a Goan curry and pao meal.

Japanese Mushroom & Tofu Curry

Our last curry for dinner was the Japanese Mushroom and Tofu Curry – Japanese curry with shitake, cremini and haricot served with short grain rice, crispy onion and pickled vegetables. The flavours in the curry were a bit too sharp and overpowering for my palate. The rice provided some relief, but I would not rate this as one of the best on offer. My vote definitely went to the Guyanese crab curry.

Sea food lovers may love the Trini Shrimp Curry – Caribbean shrimp and green pepper curry with apple Kuchela and Jamaican rice, served with fried plantains and salsa. For vegetarians,  there was the Ottogi Curry – aubergines water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, glass noodles, garlic sesame kimchi with simmered lotus in soy sauce.

I missed having the Khoresht e Gheimeh –  Persian lamb and split peas curry, tachin, mint yoghurt, sabzi khordan served with French fries. Chef informed me that this curry makes use of liberal amounts of saffron to give a unique and flavourful taste. Sounded exciting, but I was satiated beyond words and there was no scope to taste even a spoonful. But I had enjoyed every morsel of what I tasted, so had no regrets.

Palate pleasing flavours, outstanding presentation, impeccable service and an extremely creativie menu. With these thoughts, I left Shamiana.

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 🙂

South Indian Fare + Global Flavours = Kobri Food Truck

A restaurant on wheels is always a fun prospect to eat from. Of course extremely popular in the West, one does not see too many in India owing to licenses and permission problems, yet, thankfully, a few are mushrooming all over India. Delhi and NCR seem to be leading the way. I was lucky to sample the food from Kobri, a food truck parked at The Heritage Transport Museum, one afternoon, courtesy, Le Meridien Gurgaon.

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The menu for the day was on the blackboard outside the truck and the chefs lead by Rajneesh Kumar, Head Chef, Flavour Labs,  were chopping, mixing, preparing, frying at a frenetic pace. The excitement as building. South Indian fusion food is Kobri’s speciality. After all, Kobri means coconut in Kannada.

This unique food truck is part of a hospitality setup called Flavour Labs and was conceptualised in 2013 during the Stanford Business School’s Ignite program in Bangalore. Launched in October 2014, Kobri is based in Gurgaon and mostly caters to the larger NCR region, Rohan Rajgarhia, one of the partners informed me.

The founding team comprises of entrepreneurial professionals with a passion for incredible food experiences, who have backgrounds in hotels & hospitality, healthcare, corporate strategy, analytics, customer service; and academic/professional affiliations with Stanford, Cambridge, Harvard and IIT.

South Indian food is something most of us enjoy, but the fusion bit was the intriguing part. Spinach and mushroom in a white wine cream sauce topped with cheese and chilly flakes was what I settled for, in a wrap. I had made a good choice. The wrap was crisp and the filling generous. The medley of spinach and mushrooms was flavorsome and the white wine cream sauce, laced with cheese gave it a smooth texture, which led to a burst of flavours in my mouth. It was sumptuous, the veggies crunchy and affordably priced. All the prerequisites to make it work for office goers looking for a quick, filling and healthy lunch. Aaiyyo! Delectable stuff.

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The spiced mutton kababs served with salad greens and an apple and olive salsa were equally unique and interesting. However, I preferred them on idlis rather than in the wrap form.

Other options include Paneer with assorted peppers in a mild chettinad sauce and topped with salad greens, Crispy fish on a bed of beetroot and turnip roulade, served with in-house tartar sauce and fresh greens. I like the twist Chef Rajneesh has given to the dishes. The flavours are contemporary and global, appealing to all taste buds. Yet, if one is craving for a South Indian meal, these, satiate that urge too. The idli subs I thought were cute and yet, filling. With offerings ranging from Rs 140-180, food is an absolute steal.

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Apparently they have another truck called Hoppers that offers healthy comfort food. I can’t wait to try that on my next visit to Delhi and NCR. Alas! we need a Kobri in Mumbai too!