Tag Archives: mocktails

Delectable Global Flavours & More…….

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Being Social…..

The Impresario Group and particularly the man behind it, the entrepreneurial and culinary genius, Riyaaz Amlani never ceases to surprise me. He has done it yet again. With Social.

At first glance, Social at Colaba in Mumbai, appears to be a modern café. Perhaps a restaurant? Once inside, you discover there’s more to it. Social is an all day café and bar where you can work and play. Yes, it allows you to relax and unwind with friends, do your work seriously (albeit with a bit of fun!) and meet and interact with people, something we are increasingly ceasing to do, thanks to technology.

Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD Impresario Handmade Restaurants says “Social is a response to the needs of today. Coffee shop clones which have been projected as the “Third Place”, a place away from home and your work/college, no longer completely address the needs of their audience. They have become monotonous and uninspiring.  With Social, for the very first time in restaurant history we have introduced the Second Place concept, an inspiring space where you can both work and play. I am thrilled to bring Social home to Mumbai.”  So are we Riyaaz!

Environmentally responsible, 100% upcycled and creative use of old furniture- that’s what Social boasts of and is perhaps true to it. The Cocktail Kitchen ( I like that name) is the centre of attraction. Quite literally! An interesting place to look at where bartenders whip up your drinks in a frenzy. Never a dull moment.

The unusual names of the dishes in the menu immediately catch your attention, as does the affordable pricing. Chef Gaurav informed me, “The menu at  Social combines ingredients, cultures and presentation styles from around the world to open up your taste horizons and let your mind make connections that you wouldn’t ordinarily make. Here’s where street food from the world gets as much spotlight as a gourmet meal.”  What makes the food even more interesting is how it’s served – depending on what you order, it could arrive on gramophone records, enamel plates and even wooden spiked boards.

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I loved the way my Oreo mud pot actually came in one. That added to the sinful experience I assure you. Rich and creamy, with the Oreo thrown in for good measure to add a little crunch to it. It was extremely filling and value for money.

The Thai sweet chilli fish bao was as interesting as it seemed on the menu. Delicately flavoured fish with a dash of spice. Just what I needed in that rainy weather. Perked up my taste buds instantly.

The Prawn sesame on toast was a tad disappointing. Although the kaffir lime and lemon grass flavors tingled my palate, it was a bit too oily.

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The menu is truly an exercise in choices and has snacky stuff as well as filling wholesome meals, easy on the pocket. Biryanis, burgers, sandwiches, Oriental food.  A good mix of vegetarian and hearty non vegetarian fare.

The breakfast section in the food menu is lip-smacking too and am surely heading there one Sunday morning.

 

Although I stayed away from the cocktails, the menu is whacky and varied. The Deconstructed Moscow Mule served in a (mule) mug, with a beaker tied up in muslin cloth with smoked Vodka and a pipette with bitters sounds like fun as does the Reaction is served in a glass beaker with an injection syringe full of Vodka and Blue Curacao. The cocktails are definitely going to be the biggest draw at Social.

The youth are going to love this place, as are we freelancers. A great venue for eating, drinking, collaborating and meeting like- minded people.  It’s time Mumbai became Social again.

Variety is the spice of life: Carafe, Peninsula Grand

It’s not everyday that one walks into a lesser known Hotel and discovers great food. Carafe , the 24 x 7 Coffee Shop at The Peninsula Grand in Andheri East took me completely by surprise.

Carafe, the 24 hours coffee shop has a spread for the Sunday brunch. All one has to do is sit back and relax, enjoy food from across India as well as global delicacies. The Cream of Mushroom and Chicken soup, set the tone of the meal. It was delicious and made me nostalgic about the soups I used to have in my childhood. I was already looking forward to the rest of the meal.

The kebab platter, was easily one of the best I have ever tasted. The chicken kebabs were marinated to perfection, well spiced and succulent. The fish had the tangy ajwaini flavour and was fresh, crisp and yet melt in the mouth. Of course the version of Pina Colada mocktail served by them was delightful. Creamy, sweet and refreshing, the mocktail was interestingly presented in a scooped pineapple shell.

The main course options were an exercise in choices. Mutton rogan josh, Sabzi kalimirch, Peas pulao, Burmese curry, noodles. There was something for every palate. The food was flavoursome, well-presented and delicious. It was definitely the regular kind of food one experiences at a buffet. The Executive Chef Crystal Mendonca’s expertise and imagination were clearly visible.

Desserts too were a spread. Gajar halwa, Swedish apple tart, pastries, bappa doi, mousse. The Swedish apple tart is a must-try as is the bappa doi. Light and creamy, the bappa doi will have you yearning for more.

Attentive, well mannered staff with quick, efficient service completes the enjoyable dining experience. What’s more the buffet on Sunday includes a complimentary spa treatment at the Caressa Spa. So it is indulgence all the way. Don’t deprive yourself of this treat.