Tag Archives: textures

Casual, boozy and indulgent brunch

This smokery and charcuterie, The Boston Butt at Kala Ghoda, Mumbai, is known for its good food, flavoursome and stylishly presented with high quality ingredients. I decided to check it out for myself on a Sunday Brunch.

The ambience is relaxed and the place pulsating. The live music on a Sunday is a sure-shot attraction.

The bright and cheerful place with a spacious layout and chic decor adds to the charm.

The brunch menu is limited but allows you a decent amount of choices. One can begin with a cocktail and the beer float with ice cream is an insta hit. Of course there are other options too.

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The smoked bbq chicken pizza was delightful and a great way to begin for sure. This brunch does not have a spread laid out before you on a table but is served to you at your table. Luxury I say!

From the raw section, I opted for the house-cured & cold smoked sushi grade blue thread fin indian salmon, apple-fennel slaw, cream cheese, shallot oil, mini bagel. It was exquisite in both presentation and flavours. It got my vote instantly. Others can opt for cobb salad or esquites.

The small plates section offered abundant options and was enough to confuse me. The bourgeois P.I.G: smoked bacon chili jam, mini brioche, mascarpone was the right choice. The in-house brioche was soft and pillowy and the bacon jam, a testimony of great flavours. A lip-smacking combo, is what I could say for sure.

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Smoked mozzarella, batter fried & wok tossed with chili, garlic, scallion, was my other choice and there too I was bang on. The smoked flavours imparted a unique texture to the mozzarella enhancing its taste and the chilli and garlic added the right amount of zest.

Cottage Cheese Steak

The quality of ingredients used in each dish struck me as first-class and outstanding. This place obviously has an edge over many for the way they smoke their meats. One of the best that I have experienced in stand alone eateries in Mumbai.

 

Carnivores can rejoice and celebrate real meaty treats here.  The tbb brunch smoked platter: smoked pulled chicken, smoked pulled pork,st louis style smoked pork rib, bbq-beans, coleslaw, pickles, bbq sauces, was any meat lover’s delight. Perfectly smoked, the variety of meats provided an amalgamation of textures and flavours and the sauces and pickles, further teased my taste buds. My piece de resistance for the afternoon this was.

Just when I thought I had savoured the best, my dessert swept me off my feet. The skillet chocolate chip cookie, with vanilla, salted caramel & chocolate ice creams, enveloped my palate and I was experiencing food coma. The cookie is the best I have had in a long time. Sinful and decadent, to say the least.

The service staff can be a bit more alert, else, the experience here is outstanding.

Mesmerized with the flavour offerings and the quality of the food, I left The Boston Butt to enjoy the rest of my Sunday even more.

If you enjoy good food, a great ambience and foot-tapping music, make sure you do not miss this Sunday brunch with a difference.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culinary Innovation At Its Best

Bubbles, vapours, air, unusual mixtures and textures, and more, is what I went expecting at lunch at Chemistry 101, the fun, gastro bar at Kamla Mills, Lower Parel; Mumbai. Of course I am all for the drama and excitement, molecular gastronomy brings along, provided it is done well. But alas! there was nothing dramatic or unwarranted here.

Cardiff based, Award winning Rosette AA Chef Stephen Gomes, obviously has got his food right. He may have played around with flavours and textures, but he knows them well and has  thus succeeded in creating a unique dining experience for his guests.

My lunch arrived. The menu was limited,  being a set menu, naturally. Yet, offered me sufficient options. Skipping lambs and prawns, we opted for butter chicken and shorshe bata mach. Being from Kolkata, this had to be tried. And again, for a Punjabi, Butter chicken cannot be missed. That is sacrilege.

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Vegetarians can opt for Veg Jaipuri with Cheese Foam or Kashmiri Dum Aloo with Ratanjot Foam or Paneer Makhani with Cream Foam or even Muttar methi malai with Cream Foam. Plenty of options. 

The chilled buttermilk ravioli, was gulped by us in a jiffy. I loved it. Size matters, yes, but this one albeit small, was potently refreshing and the perfect hors d’oeuvre.

The kiwi cooler was welcome, given the warm weather outside.

The kung fu paratha with egg, caviar rice, dal and butter chicken with sundried tomato foam were a part of my appetizing thali. Well-presented, these were a medley of colours, and yes, flavours and textures too, as I discovered in due course.

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The butter chicken, despite its avant garde presentation, was true to its flavours. The creaminess was unmistakable. A Punjabi can vouch for that. Equally flavoursome was the somewhat, mild, sosrshe bata mach, not as pungent as the original though.

The dal was well-spiced and tempered to perfection and had a home-style feel to it.  Just the way I love mine. The caviar rice was a treat for the eyes, colourful and attractive. Equally comforting to the palate with the dal.

The paratha, though sinful, was delicious and paired perfectly with the butter chicken.

What do I say about the khari biscuit ice cream with jalebi mousse? A spoonful, and I was sold out. A work of art and innovation. The astute manner in which the humble khari biscuit had been elevated and used in the ice cream, was praiseworthy. The not-so-sweet jalebi mousse was the exact contrast of the ice cream in flavour and textures. Together, they wowed my palate without a doubt.

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I had been procrastinating and finally paid a visit to this place. And I loved Chemistry 101.If a simple lunch was so good, the dinner with tapas et al will be even better am sure.

Affordably priced, this thali is a steal, given the quality of food, its presentation and portion sizes.

This place is worth making a beeline for lunch some day soon.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nawaabon Ke Kebab

Mostly Grills, the rooftop barbecue restaurant at The Orchid, Mumbai, has always been one of my fav dining places in the city, thanks to the great food and spectacular view.

I was delighted to go there yet again, albeit after a long gap. And there was ample reason too, as they were hosting the biggest kebab trail.

Chef Shadaab from Lucknow, has curated an interesting menu, to tantalize the taste buds of diners with an array of eclectic kebabs,from the lands of erstwhile nawabs – Awadh (Lucknow), Nizams and other kingdoms, that are famous for their kebabs.

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The place had been transformed completely into a haven for diners, complete with ghazals, artifacts and decor representative of the Nawabi lifestyle. The era had been beautifully recreated.

The melt in the mouth galouti kebab, arrived first. My all time favorite kebab. It did not disappoint me. The texture was perfect and the flavours, authentic. The Kakori kebab, I thought, might pale in comparison, but Chef Shadaab, did not let me down here too. The mince boasted of  great textures and robust flavours, replete with spices, so characteristic of this kebab.

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The accompanying chutneys were unique too. I particularly found the banana and tamarind one to be palate-tickling.

I was blown away with the shinghara atta and corn tikki. Yes, water chestnut flour had been dexterously paired with corn to make a delectable tikki.

The highlight of the dinner was the live trolley where chef  was making kebabs and other barbecue items live in front of  us. Oh! What a spectacle that was. I could not help, but admire the manner in which the kebabs were being adroitly flambeed by chef.

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The Mawa and dry fruit sheekh was a delight for the palate, where the sweetness of dry fruits was cleverly balanced with the meat. Chef Shadaab is truly a master of his craft.

The piece de resistance was the Tatari champ. Kid lamb chops marinated overnight with Andhra chili, cumin, cloves and pure ghee cooked in tandoor. An absolute treat for carnivores. Gourmets can also feast on Maheen Samak tikka (Bekti fish marinated with ginger garlic and aromatic herbs slow cooked live)

Chef Shadaab who hails from Alamganj, Lucknow  had a plethora of vegetarian offerings too, which according to him, the Royals feasted upon.

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In the vegetarian section, my vote went to the Meve mave ki khaas sheekh (Cottage cheese treated with condensed milk , saffron and nuts and char grilled live. Being a lover of potatoes, I relished the Tandoor Bharwan Lahori Aloo  too, where the potatoes were scooped and stuffed with spices, raisins and almonds.

The chef has procured the spices and other condiments from various places to ensure the authentic taste.

The food struck me as unique, with authenticity being  showcased in each dish. The ingredients used, were of good quality and completely fresh.

What do I say about the biryanis, niharis, salans and special Indian breads, which were on offer. Sheermal, Baqarkhani, Khamiri roti , laccha paratha, lasooni naan were delightfully paired with lip-smacking gravies and salans.

Each dish was authentic and well-prepared, using the slow cooking methods of that region and as per the demands of that cuisine. Some of the non vegetarian main course dishes are Shahi Nihari (Lamb shanks simmered on low heat cooked overnight served with Khamera naan), Degi Gosht (Baby lamb cooked with coconut, cumin and tamarind flavour gravy), Achari jhinga (Tiger prawns stir fried in Hyderabadi pickled spice, finished with tamarind pulp), Pudina machli ka salan (Pomfret cooked with onion, tomato, and mint gravy).

The food was flavourful, but yes, rich and heavy. But I guess once in a while, with spread like this, one can do with a bit of indulgence.

As in a royal repast, I finished my meal with Sewiyan ka Muzaffar (Vermicelli cooked win condensed milk topped with nuts).

There were other options too, but of course I skipped those. Sheer kurma, Khubani ka meetha, Shahi Tukda, Shahi Falooda. A paan counter too is part of the festival, for those who want to digest their food.

With Ghulam Ali and Jagjit Singh’s ghazals fading away in the background, I made my way out of Mostly Grills, after a memorable Kebab Trail and hospitality, fit for the nawabs.

On till April 17, 2016 only for dinner, don’t miss this if Kebabs are what appeases your taste buds.

Eccellente pasto!Italian food at its best!

I can keep waxing eloquent about Italian cuisine, one of my favourite global cuisines. Across India, there are a few places that serve really good Italian fare, but La Terrazza at Hyatt Regency Pune, bowled me over completely.

The decor and ambience beckons you immediately. The place exudes warmth in abundance. We were seated on a corner table with a nice view.

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The set menu for lunch seemed fairly exhaustive. And given the options, it was value for money too. Salad, soup, Pasta/pizza and a veg or non veg main course and of course dessert. An extremely generous menu, I thought this was.

Our Mushroom broth with porcini mushroom and chicken arrived. Aesthetically served. Piping hot, just the way I love it. And the aroma of the mushrooms filled my nostrils. Comforted me, instantly. A few sips and I enjoyed the well-balanced flavourful soup thoroughly.

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My Mesclun salad (with olive, sundried tomato, parmesan shaving and balsamic dressing) was light and palate-tingling. Fresh and robust flavours oozed out of the high quality ingredients. Full marks here too.

Our potato gnocchi with AOP(aglio olio e pepperoncino) sauce and liberal amount of chicken was delightful. The chef recommended the sauce and we loved it. It complimented the creamy potato gnocchi. An artful pairing this was.

Not  a single dish was heavy and made us experience discomfort. Each morsel was being relished by us. The staff was attentive and the service warm and unobtrusive.

The grilled chicken with creamy polenta was the perfect choice. Succulent breast of chicken, grilled to perfection yet moist, was the apt match for the creamy, coarse polenta. The portions struck me as generous.

The meal had proved to be a memorable one but even though I was satiated with the vast flavours and textures I had experienced, I could not say no to the Tiramisu, my all time favourite dessert. And this one was worth trying. Soft, creamy, wit the right hint of rum and mascarpone cheese, it just melt in our mouths. This was truly a grand finale to a lip-smacking meal.

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This three course lunch at Rs 675 plus taxes is a steal. Any lover of Italian food should not miss this opportunity to gorge on choicest Italian delicacies for this price. And throw in a glass of red or white wine and pay only Rs 100 extra. Incredible!

Office goers too can partake this delectable filling lunch in the afternoons, away for a short break from work. I wish I lived in Pune!

Rating : 4.5/5

 

 

 

A ‘wok’ to satiate your taste buds: Wok Express

Pan Asian meals are sure shot winners. Most of us enjoy these and I am no exception. And with a new Wok Express opening in Bandra, I decided to pay a visit.  Reasonably spacious, with a no-frills atmosphere, Wok Express was packed on a weekday for dinner. A good sign for them, I thought.

The menu is varied enough with dim sums, bubble tea, and of course the Wok meal served in a box comprising a base of noodles (udon, flat wheat, ramen) or steamed rice,with veggies or chicken, fish, prawns and a delectable array of sauces. Sambal. Toban, Teriyaki, Pumpkin curry sauces sounded out-of-the-ordinary compared to the usual black pepper, chiili basil et al. There is a fair amount of vegetarian options too.

I settled for Har gau prawns, as I can never resist prawns. And this classic is my favourite. Steamed to perfection with a moist and tasty prawns filling, i was off to a good start. My Thai Bubble tea was a bit of a disappointment. Attractively presented, the flavours sadly were not so exciting. Some how never enjoyed the tapioca pearls. Have tasted better ones in Bangkok.

The crystal dumplings too were well-made. Had a bite to them and the texture with the right amount of crunch, was appeasing to my taste buds.

The staff appeared a wee bit confused with the orders. Probably teething problems so typical of a restaurant of any stature or size.

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My wok with Udon noodles (my favourite),  fish and prawns, the sweet and spicy sambal sauce, a generous amount of veggies and roasted peanuts, cilantro, friend onions, as condiments was a flavourful and wholesome wok. One selects one’s own ingredients and ticks them on the box. The person behind the counter then prepares it as per your selection.

As I picked up my wok (it is self service), it struck me that the quantity was enormous. Absolute value for money, given the quality of the ingredients and the generous helping. I was blown away by the medley of flavours in my mouth. The sambal sauce offered the perfect balance of sweet n spicy flavours. Textures too were plenty- crunchy, smooth, melt-in-the-mouth. The bell peppers, zucchini and carrots, added the health quotient to my meal.

Good stuff. It reminded me so much of the meals I had in Bangkok eons ago. Finally, India had places to match that quality of Pan Asian food. The medium sized wok itself was so filling, could well imagine what the large one would be like. Priced between Rs 190- Rs 240 for a medium sized wok, it is really easy on the wallet and something which will go down well with the youth too.

What is nice is that the menu keeps changing every few days, so one never gets bored. The day’s special is highlighted on a black board.

The Tab Tim Grob aka water chestnuts in syrup n coconut milk though refreshing in summer is not something I enjoy, so decided to give it a miss. Wish there were more options.

Wok Express is the perfect place to devour a good meal, in a jiffy and head back to work or pick it up and relish it while you are on the go. Just what this fast-paced city of Mumbai needs.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Aromatic Flavours of Kerala @Lotus Cafe, JW Marriott Mumbai

All day dining places hosting a food promotion- a particular cuisine, no matter which one, Indian or global, are somehow never my idea of savouring a cuisine. As part of a regular buffet, these dishes get lost. Their flavours get subdued, the appearance low key, as these dishes are often resting on the buffet table for hours. But Chef Saji Alex proved me wrong. Hosting a Kerala food promotion at Lotus Cafe, JW Marriott Mumbai, he managed to retain the flavours and keep the textures and presentation intact. The hallmark of a good chef.

He had carefully and painstakingly created a menu wherein gourmets could relish traditional delicacies from North, South and Central Kerala- something every foodie year for. I was truly going to have the best of Kerala cuisine. Sadly, Biryani was not a part of tonight’s menu as some of the dishes are changed everyday.

Chef Saji Alex, Master Chef, Kochi Marriott

Mutton Pepper Fry, Malabar Fish Curry, Prawns masala, a delectable dry Pork preparation et al. The array of dishes was mouth-watering.  Vegetarians too could not grumble as he had taken care of that too. Vazhappu Cutlet, Manga Curry, Avial, Vegetable Korma, Ghee Rice  and Nadan Choru  were a part of the spread.A traditional meal  from Kerala is incomplete without a generous helping of Payasam.  Pal Payasam, Pal ada Payasam and Godambu payasam. One could taste all three.

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Fennel, curry leaves, pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, were spices which were omnipresent in most of the dishes, being the mainstay of Kerala cuisine. Coconut either in milk or paste form too found a way into most of the dishes. Not that we were complaining, as all the dishes were cooked to perfection and had subtle flavours, which one could enjoy course by course, pairing the right curries and dry dishes with the Malabar parotha, idiappams or red rice.

Nowhere did the use of spices overpower the key ingredients- meat, fish or vegetables. An absolute delight for the taste buds. Each dish had an aroma of its own. All the masalas had been prepared in house by the chef. The authenticity of the dishes was evident. There was a home-style feel to his cooking. That’s what set is apart. The soft and succulent pieces in the mutton preparation, wrapped in dry spices, surpassed my expectations as did the mildly flavoured, tapioca dish. It was a sublime experience.

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Chef Saji’s passion is hard to miss. Personally supervising the food and ensuring each guest was satisfied with the food, he is a master of his craft.

Interestingly, even though Kerala cuisine and Goan food have so many similarities, yet, each is so distinct.

It was easily the best meal I have ever had at the Lotus Cafe. Chef Saji took this place to new culinary heights.

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Being a Friday evening, the chaos and lapses in the service were understandable. Yet, Sumit, taking care of our table did a commendable job and was alert and helpful.

I left Lotus Cafe in a better mood than I had entered. Chef Saji had floored me with his culinary expertise. On till June 18, if you are a fan of Kerala cuisine do not miss this opportunity.

Rating: Food- 4/5

An Epicurean Evening

Wine dinners are suddenly fashionable and one gets invited to a plethora of them. But one at Olio, the Italian restaurant at Novotel Juhu is special. Reason : one gets to sample food prepared and created by the culinary wizard Executive Chef Ranveer Brar. Add to that wines from Chateau de Parenchere. Need I say more?

And I wasn’t wrong at all. The evening was beautiful and the ambience at Olio even better- music, great company et al. Chateau de Parenchere blanc was the first wine we sipped. A refreshing fruity white. Just my type. With it was paired a goat cheese tikki with tamarind and dressed with a chickpea salad. The tamarind was too overpowering for me and somehow did not compliment the goat cheese tikki which was in any case too cheesy(no pun intended!) and heavy. A tad disappointing. But clearly, the best was yet to come.

Mushroom three ways could very well be the highlight of the evening. And it sure was. Mushroom tea, mushroom steak and mushroom risotto were a visual delight as were they on the palate. The textures and flavours blend perfectly well. The lure of a steak is always irresistible and this one, albeit made of mushrooms, was equally robust, smothered in a delectable sauce and did not let me down. The mushroom tea particularly caught my fancy as it was an interesting addition, I thought.  An outstanding creation by Chef Brar. The full-bodied, Bordeaux superior with its spiciness,  was a perfect match for this and they stood together cheek by jowl, complimenting each other and creating a riot of flavours in one’s mouth. The balance between the fruitiness and tannin in this wine, appealed to me.

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The panna cotta with rose petal nougatine and fig chutney wowed my palate like never before. Artistically presented the delicate flavours teased my taste buds and the melt in the mouth panna cotta was sheer delight. The consistency though, I thought could have been a little more creamier and firm. A bit too runny. I loved the dash of fig chutney which added the right amount of gusto to the dish as did the tangy cherry sorbet. The Parenchere Rose served along was well structured and full bodied. A lot  more intense than usual ones and offered a unique experience with its strawberry and raspberry aromas.

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Being vegetarian for once was not a bad decision after all. considering Chef Ranveer’s versatility as a chef is evident in his vegetarian Italian fare too.