Monthly Archives: March 2012

The dessert in the Martini Glass

Recently, I got a chance to order a dessert at the ITC Maratha Sheraton beside Mumbai International Airport. (for free!)

First of all, the fact the dessert came in a Martini Glass just meant, I HAD to blog about it.

This is what was ordered:

Cinnamon Apple Crumble with Mascarpone Mousse and Streusel

Now, I didn’t know what Streusel was till today, but it tasted heavenly. Such a superb crunchiness to go with the dessert. (

Let me explain what each layer was:

1. Mascarpone Mousse.

2. A Poached Apple mash with a (large) hint of cinnamon.

and then the same thing again.

All this topped with streusel.

Since words like divine will just do injustice, I’m going to let the picture do the talking.

Please do excuse the half eaten bit. My sister and I are to blame.

See the layers?



-Avanti Adivarekar

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The cheapest San Churro substitute

So my sister and I were craving something sweet (read: San Churro’s) but didn’t want to spend so much. We had a very ordinary idea, but actually executed it for once this time.

My maid chopped up strawberries. I bought 7 strips of Dairy Milk and held them on a water bath. yes, exactly what you’re thinking.

They melted in a matter of minutes and you can pretty much guess what I did next.

Here’s a photograph as of 5 minutes ago.

Yes, they’re devoured and over.

My next experiment would be using Roast Almond Dairy Milk Silk instead.

Anyone want to suggest otherwise?


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An assortment of hidden gems

The entire concept of treasure is based on it being hard to find. No one will know much of it, or talk much of it, or encourage you to go ahead and look for it. It requires a brazen heart, a soldier’s spirit and the will of an adventurer, then, to find good food in a city filled with good food. Except this food is the sort that not many others know about.

The joints we want to cover are niche in their appeal, small and cosy, usually frequented only by the junta who live or walk around it. However, we are of the opinion that they have delicious food. Food good enough to make intra-city pilgrimages for. At least here, every bite is real.

1. Cafe New York: From the outside, it looks rather run down. It’s not fancy in the least, but largely well kept. This tiny hole in the wall can still seat about 40, and is an Irani that happens to be doing well. They serve alcohol for cheap, and apart from that, their food is largely exquisite. A meal here is likely to set you back less than 200 rupees, and we recommend the Akuri on Toast, the Fried Chicken Nuggets and a song of your choice on their jukebox.

Address: Dabholkar Building, 44, Hughes Road.
Serves all meals.
Average meal for 2: 400 Rupees (without alcohol).

2. Bespoke Cafe: With a name like that, Bespoke Cafe makes you pay attention. And indeed we did, as we walked into their little manly den of unoccupied brilliance. This cafe is nestled inside a luxury clothing store, and somehow,  very pocket friendly. The menu has Pastas, Burgers, Sadwiches, Salads and Desserts.

The place is known for being unknown, despite having high leather armchairs, good service and a tenderloin burger that is easily the best value we’ve had for our money. If only they were open for longer hours.

Address: Level 1 of The Collective, Palladium,
High Street Phoenix.
Open from 12 PM to 8 PM.
Average meal for 2: 500 rupees.

3. Dakshinayan: The average vegetarian restaurant is as common as a hurried commuter at a railway station. however, that is where all the similarities end between the average joint and Dakshinayan. The food is purely south-Indian, and authentic at that. No bastardized masala, no soda infused dosa sough.

The Rasam is at par with the Matunga stronghold of south-Indian eateries. Other stellar options are the Masala Idli, the Rawa Dosa and most of the picks of their menu.

Address: 183, Teen Batti Road, Walkeshwar,
Malabar Hill.
Open from 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM for lunch, 7:30 PM – 11:00 PM for dinner.
Average meal for 2: 300 Rupees.

Sarvesh Talreja

Is South Bombay a restaurant petri dish?

It was once said of Manhattan, “You can go out to eat every night, and still not end up at the same place twice”. It may not be much of an exaggeration, if at all it is one, to say the same for Bandra. The suburb is home to many food joints of repute, and restaurants open and shut here much like the doors of fate on their owners.

It is a bigger gamble to open a restaurant in Bandra, simply because of the competition. There are all sorts of places to eat here, and an innumerable number of eateries in each category. If one were to pick a place to simply grab a bite on Linking Road, one would have to choose between the sandwichwalla outside National College, Subway, McDonald’s, KFC, Theobroma, the famous frankie shop and more. Places to drink around Linking Road alone include Escobar, Cafe Mangii, Elbo Room, Janata, Soul Fry, Bonobo and Firangi Paani. If you frequent Bandra, you might have even thought of one or two yourself, in addition to this list. These places are all different in terms of ambience, across sections of price and still attract crowds. Andheri too, has similar characteristics.

Even though the real estate is expensive in South Bombay, there isn’t much competition. It is more viable to open a unique place here, so that the choice deprived locals come, get a sense of the place and help make it a brand. That is what Bandra makes it difficult to do, make your restaurant one that is memorable and unique. And since the restaurant business is one of word of mouth, before you know it, a place can be successful with frequent visitors.

Take for example this list of restaurants. All of them opened in South Bombay first, got noticed and built a  following. Now, they have branches in Bandra and/or Andheri. The list includes: Suzette, Moshe’s, Woodside Inn, Theobroma, Basilico, 5 Spice.

Can you think of any restaurant that opened in South Bombay after a suburban branch? Do let us know!

Sarvesh Talreja

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A head to head Theobroma shootout

Theobroma is one of the nicest joints in town when one is looking for comfort. Their range of breads, brownies, desserts, cakes, etcetera probably have ‘comfort’ as a secret ingredient. They moved from being present on only the tip of the city to being present in Bandra as well.

The Bandra outlet has more space, a more eclectic mix of people visiting, and yet, it retains the Theobroma characteristic of good food served slow. One can’t help but wince at the lack of parking amenities at both locations.

While the name translates to ‘Food for the Gods’, their chariots will have to be left in the skies, or in the hands of the trusty valets of the second location’s parking lot.

Anyway, being at the Colaba Theobroma after it has been redone is slightly sickening. In comparison to their earlier warm wooden tones and orange light, it now appears to be more like Red Riding Hood’s bedroom, with whitewashed walls, and childishly reassuring hues of aqua. If you walk in to the Colaba outlet during a meal, be prepared to fight for your right. Not to a seat, but to walk along the counters and pick a dish without crashing into someone.

Sure, the place is cramped, but we wouldn’t complain simply because we love the food too much, like the Chicken Mayo Wrap here:

Chicken Mayo Roll

What we prefer about the Bandra branch, however, is that apart from the two-levelled setting, there is more space. There is space near the dessert counter, and near the packaged sandwich section. One can browse around more at leisure and pick their meal. The service is significantly better than at the Colaba outpost, where sometimes the waiters look at you as if you are actually speaking in Greek.

The food is the same, but the quantity for some dishes is more at the Bandra branch. While we happened to call for Chicken Rarebit sandwiches at each branch, the one at Bandra came with vegetables as a side. The size of the bread was decidedly bigger. The same order at Colaba yields a smaller piece of bread and fries that are much off colour.

It is odd that a restaurant that made its name in town chooses to be partial towards the suburban branch, even though it clearly generates more revenue.

Theobroma @ Colaba:
Shop No 24, Cusrow Baug,
Electric House, Colaba.

Theobroma @ Bandra:
Link Square Mall, 33rd Road,
Off Linking Road, Bandra West.

Sarvesh Talreja

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Le Pain Quotidien: A Review

Belgian chain ‘Le Pain Quotidien’ has opened up its local branch for about a year now, and business is good. The restaurant, divided over 2 levels, is usually spread out over one.

We ventured into LPQ one morning, and it wasn’t a truly fine one until we left. The space is understated and classy, with a charming European touch. The light shades of wood on the tables provide a subtle contrast with more caramel shade found on the walls. The staircase leading upstairs is a sight, as is the chandelier atop.

Translating to ‘The Daily Bread’, the name of this restaurant seems like an apt practical joke, as nothing here is pocket friendly, but everything is well worth the money. Our order was a three egg omelette with ham and cheese, an espresso and a dark chocolate waffle.

The staff was well spoken and courteous, and tend to pick up fast on what you might want. They suggested a portion of the fresh chocolate eclairs, which they said were fresh out of the oven. We relented.

The crowd was interesting. One would expect to see many of the rich ‘SoBo’ sort, but there was a surprisingly high amount of backpackers. They sat on their small tables, and seemed to be planning their activities for the day from Lonely Planets, Time Out Mumbai for travellers, and other such publications. It was a rather interesting mix.

The food arrived at a slow pace, but in such a pretty restaurant, we aren’t complaining. The dark chocolate waffle came with a small side of fruits, and the omelette with some vegetables. The espresso, though only a shot, came in a tall glass. It made me get a little creative and take this:

The Iced-Espresso Shot

The waffle was beyond ordinary. It was warm and soft, with the portion of sauce wafting over every crevice on the surface of the waffle. The omelette looked small and tasted perfect, filling me up rather unexpectedly. The espresso was nothing out of the ordinary, but the winner was the chocolate eclair. It was rather cheap compared to the other items on the menu. But being fresh out of the oven, it was delightfully creamy on the inside, with a generous covering of chocolate on the outside. It was the perfect ending to a superb meal.

We will come back, though if we did often, we might not have money to buy lunch, dinner or even a vada pav. It’s definitely break worth breaking the bank for, but not daily, unless you’re one of the local Richie Rich.

Le Pain Quotidien: Dhanraj Mahal,
C. S. M. Road, Apollo Bunder.

– Sarvesh Talreja

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Cafe at the NCPA: A Review

After the opening of Amadeus, the Spanish and Levantine restaurant at NCPA, one longed to eat more than sandwiches there. However, the price of the food discouraged the frequent patrons of the theatre from eating there frequently.

Cue Café at the NCPA, also run by Farrokh Khambata. Housed on an artificial turf with an open kitchen, this windy corridor was previously under-utilised as the smoking area for Amadeus. The menu has a wide selection, cutting across cuisines. There are salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, all ideal for a snack. There are also Chinese set meals and kebabs, apart from a selection of mocktails and desserts.

We decided on the Chili Milli Mushrooms, the Vegetarian Khao Sueuy, a Chinese set meal with noodles and mushroom baby corn gravy which they agreed to add some broccoli to. We were pleasantly surprised at the recent addition of some Amadeus food on the menu to be served at the Café. Tempted, we ordered the Marisco De Rosa and the Wood Fired Young Chicken with Piri Sauce.

We happened to visit this place on a particularly windy Saturday evening, when the place was packed to its capacity. The smells from the open kitchen wafted across the lawn, making its presence felt without interfering, something that was also seen in the volume of ambient conversation.

The food didn’t take long to arrive, though we expected problems after our waiter couldn’t process our order at one go. The Chili Milli Mushroom was nicely done, the mushroom retaining its juicy texture with a tangy seasoning. The quantity, however, was for midgets. The Khao Sueuy was just like the one at Joss, of the same parent company. Served in a tall bowl, the quantity was hearty and the broth of perfect consistency and flavour.

The Chinese set meal was the real surprise. There is a stigma towards set meals, as they tend to be lower in price. This set meal, though easy on the pocket, packed in a superb blend of quality and quantity. The stars of the evening, however, remained the dishes off the Amadeus menu. The Marisco De Rosa was exceptional, with 4 toppings, 3 of them being exotic fish. The rice was soft and delicious, with tender chicken breast forming the last delectable topping. The Wood Fired Young Chicken came with a side of bread, and looked rather intimidating with its colour, but was gentle to eat.

The service being slightly off colour, we were suitably impressed. The ambience and the food were spot on, and the service could always improve. Maybe if we came back on a night that wasn’t a Saturday, things would be different.

Average meal for two: Rs. 1000

Cafe at the NCPA: Ahead of the Tata Theatre,
NCPA, Nariman Point.

Timings: 12 PM – 12 AM.

– Sarvesh Talreja 

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Saltwater Cafe: A Review

Saltwater Cafe is rather simple to find if you know Bandra. And by know Bandra, I mean were born and raised there. Now that the townie in me is done ranting, let’s talk of how marvellous it is. It stakes its claim as a great place to eat. Apart from a huge breakfast menu (pity it isn’t all day), they serve most things you would expect from an all day deli, be it salads with interesting meats, classic European mains, sandwiches or burgers.

When you walk in here, you will be greeted with a clean ambience of wood gently complementing the space created by the white surfaces. The place is designed to thrive in the sunlight that enters through its windows, but never seems to glare.

We were bowled over by their breakfast menu, which seemed to have most of our favourites on it. Eggs Benedict? Check! A choice of bagels? Check! Omelettes? Oh, absolutely! We decided to go with a portion each of Eggs Benedict (with ham, they also offer a choice of Norweigan Salmon) and a Spanish Omelette. A watermelon juice to wash it down appeared to be a good idea.

The delicious Eggs Benedict

They offer the newspapers of the day, something not common, though much appreciated. It is this sort of characteristic detail that makes one sit up and take notice. Water was served to us promptly and without being asked for, and the waiters were competitive and friendly. They were able to make suggestions without any hesitation, and that appeared very well-versed with their offerings.

The Eggs Benedict was perfect. The eggs oozed of yellow goodness, and the ham was just enough. A little more would have been nice, but it seemed to be a perfect estimate. The Spanish Omlette was fluffy and delightful, with the ingredients working like clockwork. The watermelon juice, which we split into two, was fresh and tasty. We could taste the goodness of the poor sacrificed fruit in every sip we took.

We would never hesitate to come here for any meal of the day. A great staff with fine food is a good combination, and we want it around  for a long, long time.

Average meal for two: Rs. 1000, though our breakfast did cost less.

Saltwater Cafe: 87, Chapel Road,
Rose Minar Annexe, Bandra (W).

Timings: 8 AM to midnight.

– Sarvesh Talreja 

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Suzette diversifies

After a smashing success was met at their cosy Nariman Point outpost, Suzette opened another outlet at Pali Hill in Bandra. This outlet is bigger, with a cosy outdoor section. The treat, however, is that Suzette now has a new menu, comprising additions to the breakfast section, the crepes section and a new section of pasta salads being its highlights.

We decided to visit the Nariman Point branch during lunchtime, and were lucky enough not only to get a table, but to be sitting next to a duo of friends amusing us with their tales, as we couldn’t help but eavesdrop.

The Pasta Salad section looked interesting, despite having only 3 selections and some add-ons. We decided on a Ratatouille Salad from there, to be accompanied by a newly introduced Pays Crepe, the description of which mentioned caramelized onions, immediately tickling our sense of curiosity.

After a short wait of more eavesdropping than talking (it’s not that we are boring, but our neighbours were absolutely amusing, without even the slightest awareness of it), our server brought us our order.

The salad contained a lot more pasta than we had anticipated. The ratatouille dressing was delicious, once we moved past the lack of its encompassing presence. Due to this skewed proportion, we were left munching on pieces of fusilli more than we would have preferred.

The too much pasta, too little ratatouille salad

The star of this meal was undoubtedly the Pays Crepe. Apart from being generously slathered, the caramelized onions in a crepe were an absolute revelation. The chicken pieces were perfectly juicy and soft.

To wash it down, we went with the Tomato juice, because it’s impossible to not want to try a juice that contains Tabasco. The glass was nicely sized and filled with the consistent goodness of a gently spicy flavour, much of it courtesy the basil and Tabasco.

We know we’re going back, for the food, for the French music and for the fact that nowhere else in the city will you get caramelized onions wrapped inside of anything.

Average meal for two: Rs. 600

Suzette: Atlanta. Ground Floor,
Nariman Point, Mumbai.

Open: 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM

Sarvesh Talreja

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From Mamma’s Kitchen

Being an ardent dessert-lover, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at baking and did so a few times, however, a tad unsuccessful. Recipe books and innovative baking techniques off blogs do help, but nothing beats attempting a recipe straight from your mother’s kitchen. If it’s comfort food, it is even more exciting. I tried my hand at baking a very basic Bread Pudding as per mom’s instructions. Here is the recipe. I am sure a first-time baker can successfully give this a shot.

–          Ingredients:

  • Milk – 2 cups
  • Butter – 150 grams
  • Approx 7-8  slices of bread (tear them into small pieces) In case you prefer a healthier option, use whole-wheat bread
  • Brown Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla Essence – ½  teaspoon
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Nutmeg
  • Raisins/Almonds/Cashews (optional)

–       Method:

  • Heat milk in a saucepan on medium flame. Add the butter. Stir it until melted. Keep aside to cool.
  • Mix sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla essence in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer and then add the milk to it.
  • Put the bread pieces in a greased tin. Pour the mixture on top of it.
  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes. (I use an oven, not a microwave and hence it takes a comparatively long time to bake)
  • Voila! Serve warm or try it with a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Photo Courtesy:Khorshed Deboo

– Khorshed Deboo 

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