Tag Archives: innovative

The Long & Short Of The New Menu

The Dome may be the most sought after place at InterContinental Marine Drive, but for me Long & Short, the casual dining and lounge is equally a star. The reason being the eclectic menu, fun cocktails, affordable menu and of course great service. It is a place where one can unwind, relish good food and prompt service.
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Executive Chef Arzooman Irani, being the creative genius and restless person that he is has introduced some new exciting dishes in the already exhaustive menu, thus revamping parts of it.
Wanting to keep it global, Chef Irani was keen on ensuring that comfort food was the focus. “Guests should be able to dine in a fun and relaxed atmosphere with the food being light and enjoyable. Of course, apart from comfort food, there is a section for those seeking healthy food too and that need not be boring. Low cal, low carbs or no carbs, gluten free and so on. There are plenty of options. And of course those wanting to indulge can do so as well,” Chef Arzooman elaborated.
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We started with the crisp lavash dome, almost customary here. Crunchy and laced with herbs, it set our taste-buds tingling. The platter with starters was a treat for the eyes, as it was for the palate. The springs rolls with varied fillings were crisp and luscious, the wasabi prawns fresh and delectable and the chicken boasted of distinct Pan Asian flavours. The presentation was appealing yet, devoid of unnecessary gimmicks.
The crisp pea shoot salad  from the healthy food section, was a delight. It was as fresh as it could get. With a subtle flavoured dressing, the medley of textures of the lettuce, seasonal fruits, micro greens and cherry tomatoes, came out trumps and it was a veritable feast for the taste buds. Healthy food can certainly be delicious.
Mushroom feta cheese waffle from the petit toasties section caught my eye and struck me as innovative. But then, Chef Arzooman is legendary for his innovative streak. Equally unique were the slider offerings, I thought. Butter milk fried chicken, sriracha mayo was certainly out-of-the-ordinary. I made a mental note of it for my next visit.
The brie & potato gnocchi surpassed everything that I have ever tasted before. The garlicky creamy sauce, wrapped over the potato gnocchi made me slip into a food coma. But what got my vote instantly was the zucchini spaghetti. No, not spaghetti with zucchini but spaghetti made out of zucchini strips and tossed in aglio olio. It was outstanding and  yet another testimony to the chef’s creativity.
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Comforting curries, Mumbai street food, pizza, salads, care has been taken to ensure that the menu caters to every palate. Vegetarian options abound too.
Surprisingly the dessert did not wow my palate as expected. The salted caramel oreo tart was not the hero of the evening as the chocolate drizzle overpowered all other flavours, relegating them to the background.
With alert staff, warm hospitality and first-rate food, the  experience at Long & Short was memorable and the new menu is clearly a winner.
Rating: 4.5/5
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burgers anyone?

Burgers in India have evolved. Today, burger chains in India as well as five star hotels serve the best of burgers at par with the ones we get abroad. Big, value for money with interesting fillings made of fresh high quality ingredients.

Mexicano Burger

I was thrilled to see  that McDonalds has recently incorporated so many Indian spices in the burger bun.  This new variant is truly welcome. McDonald’s  new range of ‘Indi’ McSpicy burgers actually give consumers a kick of Desi spice with the unique flavor of Hari mirch sauce, made of Green Chillies – one of the commonly used ingredients in Indian Food.

Indi McSpicy Chicken

Originally from Hamburg in Germany, Burgers are now globally eaten and accepted.The varieties in burger patties today are plenty too. Chicken breasts grilled to perfection, sautéed in  interesting sauces, well made, delectable  fried chicken or paneer patty,  and even tofu. The options are endless.

Whether it is a classic meat burger or its healthier counterpart the Soybean burger , one can experiment with herbs and spices for an unusual result.  And chefs and burger chains alike, are doing that.

Chefs now experiment with toppings like Avocado salsa instead of melted cheese and fried onions. Instead of normal white bread you now have a range of healthy options to choose from.

MINI-BURGERS

I remember eating innovative stuff at the Leela Goa. Moong bean sprout patty, tamarind chutney, baked tapioca chips, coconut and cucumber salad, Shiitake, tofu and rice patty, sesame bun. Yes all this instead of the usual oily and unhealthy options we commonly indulge in. 

Woodside Inn Andheri does some great burgers. Loved their festival of global burgers from across the world, some months ago.

Fish or chicken burgers always catch my eye as these are fairly uncommon. Am not a meat person anyway. A chewy meat patty which some burger chains often tend to serve is a strict no no. A juicy, succulent burger is something we all enjoy.

Add-ons like sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, melting cheddar cheese and bacon rashers add variety even to an ordinary burger.

I am all for these fusion burgers rather than the age-ol’ classic burger. Innovation is fun and it is great to tease your palate with unusual flavours and textures.

And yes I love sliders or mini burgers too. Easy to eat and one can try our several different ones. And these make a pretty picture too.

I am now craving a burger. And you?

 

 

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

Fun, Frolic, Flavours Galore: Monkey Bar

It was not even a weekend and I could hear the buzz inside Monkey Bar Bandra, from the road, as I stepped out of my vehicle.

New in Mumbai, after making its debut in Bengaluru in 2012, this gastro pub is already the talk of the town. Oops! Suburbs.

The place was teeming with youngsters and even a few older couples and friends. I was almost transported to a pub in Europe. The bar counter was packed as many people stood there, sipping their beers or cocktails.

I settled for an Aam Panna strongly recommended to me, as I was not having any alcohol. My partner opted for a Masala soda. My aam pana was a bit too salty and synthetic. Nothing to write home about.

Our Peppered calamari rings arrived along with the prawn pickle and pao. The calamari was fresh and well fried, with a dash of garlic, curry leaves, spices et al, which was good to whip up an appetite. The prawn pickle was delicious, but not exactly a balchao. The kadak pao or brun pao was too kadak for my liking and a tad too chewy. These perked up our taste buds nevertheless.

The menu was quirky and unusual. Loaded Nachos, Butterfly Chicken, Tikki of Joy and Goan Chorizo Pao. Also Char-grilled burgers, a delicious selection of small plates, soul-satisfying main courses to cater to every palate, cocktails in Nutella jars and copper tumblers, as well as delicious desserts.

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The pricing struck me as affordable and the dishes innovative with the right twist. Everyone seemed to be having a good time without a care in the world. A great place to unwind and relax.

I loved Chef’s value addition to the Indian dishes, as well as regional favourites like Laal Maas Phulkas, served with mirch achar, ker sangri sabji and coriander chutney or Aunty Pereira’s sorpotel pickle pot. Innovation at its best!

Even the mains were unique. We settled for a Butter chicken khichdi which was abundantly flavourful and comforting. Well presented too. But it was the Jackfruit biryani that was the star of the evening. Aromatic, with subtle flavours, it was appetizing to the core.  Good portions too. Well-prepared succulent pieces of jackfruit and the delicately flavoured biryani rice, were married perfectly. I am never going to miss a Mutton biryani again.

Butter Khichdi Chicken (1)  - Monkey Bar - Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra

Other fun dishes were Chandraji’s Mutton Curry Balti (a succulent mutton dish served with Gobindobhog rice), Peshavari Chicken Chaapli and Via Amritsar (a really cool take on the humble aloo vadi); hearty meals for meat lovers like the In ‘N Out (Monkey’s version of Scotch eggs),Duck Boti Roti (Peking-inspired duck confit and egg baida roti served with onions and mint chutney), Crab Rangoon  etc.

Chef Manu Chandra has really let his imagination run riot and yet, kept his food so authentic and of great quality. No element of monotony at all in the menu. Absolutely laudable.

Jackfruit Biryani -  Monkey Bar - pic 3 Photo Courtesy Kunal Chandra

The Rasmalai Pannacotta was a bit of a dampner as the flavours were not upto the mark and did not appeal to us. The Chocolate popcorn proved to be our saviour. One can never go wrong there.

The exposed walls, cosy nooks and corners, mismatched, yet warm, lights and fixtures, all culminate in giving a fun, yet warm appeal to this place. It beckons you instantly, making you relax and enjoy. And we were no exception. We stepped out after a fun evening.

Rating : 4/5

A Fruity Extravaganza: Cafe Mangii Summer Menu

What is summer without the king of fruits- Mangoes? One enjoys them in every form, as a fruit, in milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream and aam ras. And we never tire of them. And when you know that it has even been incorporated in the Summer Menu of one of your favourite Restaurants, you are just plain ecstatic.

Cafe Mangii, the Italian chain of Restaurants offers great food always. Throughout the year. Have been a huge fan of this place since years.

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to check out the new menu. The service as always, was impeccable. Suhas the Khar outlet Manager, at his politest best and the staff attentive and alert.

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Seated on a  table overlooking the window, I took a look at the new menu. A bright, sunny mango stared at me, and bought a smile to my lips. Yes, it was the menu in the shape of a sweet and smiling mango, with shades et al. Kids would love it am sure.

Soups, salads, appetizers, mains and desserts, were all fruity. Yes a lot of summer fruits had been used in the menu. Plenty of mangoes too of course. But the menu was refreshing. Literally. Watermelon Gazpacho Shots, Watermelon Pizza (which is actually a salad), Pina colada chicken, Apricot glazed hen. Whew! Innovation at its best, I thought. It struck me though that there was no pizza on his menu.

Our Chilled Melon and fresh Alphonso with pistachio soup arrived. I loved the idea of crushed pistachio on the rim of the glass. Thought it was out of the ordinary. The soup was rejuvenating. Subtle flavours. The melon was more pronounced, but one could enjoy the mango too. Perked us up and we were ready for our salad and appetizer. Perhaps the rim should have had rock salt instead? I wondered.

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Mango & Calamari with cilantro aioli arrived. Great presentation again. Colourful and appetizing. The use of ripe and raw mango to give the sweet and tangy flavour was laudable. The calamari was steamed to perfection. Light and flavoursome salad. Our palates were teased sufficiently.

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The Crispy Chicken with Asparagus & Tomatoes was a pleasant surprise too. Light for an appetizer and the grilled chicken pieces melt in our mouth. The bacon bit were well fried and complimented the dish.

I could not help thinking how effectively and skilfully the chef had integrated fruits in each section to make the dishes light and flavourful.

We settled for Raviolo in Orange Paprika Butter sauce for our mains. Stuffed with Pine Nut, leeks & Fontina, Orange Paprika Butter Sauce, the sweetish taste made this dish unique, but we preferred the Salmon al Cartoccio. It was an absolute palate pleaser. Salmon fillet marinated in ginger soy and brown sugar served with roast almonds and snow peas, has subtle, but distinct flavours. The freshness of the salmon made it so delicious. It offered a medley of flavours to the palate. My vote goes to this one for sure.

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Satiated with such a perfect meal, dessert was plain greed. We succumbed. Mangoes with fresh cream we thought might be lighter than strawberry ravioli which was being recommended. Alas! we had erred. The presentation was wow. So much so that one felt guilty to dig  spoon into it. The mangoes were completely snowed under the cream, which was insipid. In fact the taste of the fruit was masked completely. Not sweet enough. A tad disappointing.

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I hurriedly ordered a Cappuccino to salvage my taste buds and that helped.

I walked out of Cafe Mangii pleased as punch after an enjoyable Sunday lunch. An eclectic summer menu. For once I was not complaining about the heat !

Watch out For This Treesome!

The Treesome Cafe in Andheri West, Mumbai definitely looked like a cool and happening place an was abuzz with people on Friday night as we stepped in. The outer portion was distinctly reminiscent of TLD. Yet the decor was totally different. We opted for a table inside.

The funky names and the interesting descriptions in the menu immediately caught my eye. Cupcake Shrooms aka mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese, chilli and sundried tomatoes served just like sweet cupcakes. Cute to look at and delicious as well but a lil’ impractical to handle and eat. They were so wobbly that the lower portion would just fall apart.  I even shared this with the chef and he agreed. We sipped our Orange Lemon grass coolers which were heavy on orange juice but the lemongrass was conspicuous by its absence. Refreshing nevertheless.

The Big Mezze with hummus, babaganoush, persian falafel, pita bread, et al was a gastronomic delight. Luscious flavours and interesting textures all in the same platter. The babganoush surprisingly got full marks as normally I am not a brinjal fan, Was well made indeed. The cous cous salad too was unique but the persian falafels did not impress me too much.

Foot tapping music, audible but not noisy was playing and enhanced the charm of the place. I loved the platters on which the food was served.

I loved the dish Gabar Singh, spinach, chill and cheese crostini, although I did not try those. Chicken Gangnam syle- the Korean grilled chicken was a complete washout as far as I was concerned. Though stylishly served in glasses, the texture of the chicken was too mushy, as if excessively marinated.

Chicken Gangnam Style

Bokiba – the Maldivian fish cakes were unique and well made. Reminded me instantly of the fish balls one eats in Singapore. The sundried tomato chutney too was delectable. A good offering, I thought.

The Chef is certainly creative and well travelled. The menu though limited has enough variety. The place is obviously meant to entice drinkers and it sure does. Food is secondary, yet not a run of the mill stuff.

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For those who are still hungry, burgers, pizza and main course choices abound. We settled to share a Butter chicken Risotto as frankly I have always eaten only the Italian ones. This sounded out of the ordinary. It surpassed our expectations. Well made, it was creamy and had the spicy chicken integrated well into the risotto and a grilled piece was served along side too. Pretty innovative! There was Lal Masala fish, Chicken Cafreal, Penne Vodka and much more to choose from. I know a place like this need not have dessert on their menu but I sorely missed it.

It was a Friday night so they could be excused, but the service was a bit confused. But the quality of the food and drinks served is excellent, innovative and the place is pulsating and fun.