Category Archives: Grub Guide Suggests

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

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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A Guide to the nifty Pick-Me-Up

There is a new culture developing across our city’s dining establishments. Apart from the meals and the thoughtful innovation that comes with it, many eateries are now offering customers the scope to buy some of their goodies impulsively.

Here is our guide to the best of what some our favourite joints have to offer:

Indigo Deli: If eating their sent-from-heaven Eggs Benedict was not enough, Indigo sells you enough to make your own. At offer are stylish cooking equipment, meats, cheese and even cigars.

What we like: Easily the best curated selection of meat in a restaurant, their cold cut selection is worth mulling over. Cold cuts, chorizo, exquisitely rare forms of red meat are all to be found here along with a good variety of imported cheese.

Cafe Moshe’s: Moshe Shek has taken it upon himself to take over every part of our diet he can. At his branch at Phoenix, he stocks breads, cookies, desserts and other small items worth nibbling.

What we like: The chocolate caramel square at 50 bucks is the most unique concoction we have had in a while. It is filling, devil-may-care sweet and just what we need at any point in time.

Here is a way to enjoy it even more: https://thegrubguide.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/chocolate-and-caramel-in-an-ice-cream/

Kala Ghoda Cafe: This wonderful space does some fantastic stuff with their menu. Their salads have more leaf, their hot chocolate more happiness, and their coffee more wake-up-chromosome than most other good places we’ve visited.

What we like: While they do have tiny jars of cookies and muffins that are delectable, we like their coffee the best. It comes in two varieties: bean and grounded. The menu claims it is especially and organically grown in a farm in the south. It is a far cry from any of the other coffee you might have tasted, and that only makes it more enjoyable.

Theobroma: There isn’t much to say of this space that isn’t known. As if to defy their tiny space in Colaba, they have a menu large enough to compete with most small restaurants, and the quality of food is at par only because the desserts are much better here.

What we like: Their new concept of boxes with fresh cakes in them. The flavours are old and classic, but haven’t been served with a Theobroma twist before. The Lemon Cake is possibly our unanimous favourite, though it had to get through a toothy battle with the Honey and Walnut Cake and the Banana Bread .

Here is another innovation worth trying out at  Theobroma: https://thegrubguide.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/orange-juice-as-a-cake/

– Sarvesh Talreja

Tea-Time Snacks on a Budget

 

Chai time

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

The idea of enjoying the humble chai has drastically changed in times of tea-tasting workshops, ‘cha bars’ and tea salons. High tea- replete with scones, sandwiches and sushi rolls may set you back by a few bucks.

Here is a list of ten accompaniments, all under Rs. 20 which we found across the city. They can be savored with your umpteenth cup of tea or evening dose of cutting chai. 

1. Chicken Pattice (Rs. 8) at Merwan 12/13, Madhav Nagar, S V Road, Andheri (West), Mumbai

2. Mini French loaf Bread (Rs. 6) at American Express Bakery, AEB House, 66A, Mirza Galib Marg, Byculla, Mumbai.

3. Currant Bun (Rs 8) Candies, Mac Ronells, Pali Hill, Next to Learners Academy School, Bandra West.

4. Mawa Cake (Rs 12) at Kyani and Company, Jer Mahal, J.S.S Road, Mumbai

5. Vada Pav  (Rs. 7) at Sahyadri Maharshi karve Road, Churchgate, Mumbai.

6.  Oat Cookie (Rs. 7) at Candies, Mac Ronells, Pali Hill, Next to Learners Academy School, Bandra West.

7.  Kanda Poha (Rs 15) at Kutumb Sakhi, Near S.K PatilGarden, Charni Road, Mumbai.

8.  Palmiers (Rs. 20) at Edward Bakery, 62/64, Perin Nariman Street (Bazargate Street), Fort, Mumbai

9.   Egg Puff (Rs 10) at Alfa Bakery, Shop No. 6, Parvati Nagar Co-op Hsg. Soc. Ltd., Yari Road, Versova, Andheri (W), Mumbai

10.Omelet with Bread (Rs 18) at Ratan Tata Institute, 39, Hughes Road, Next to Westside, Mumbai

 

P.S. It’s 1st of March and we cannot wait to lay our hands on the new BBC GoodFood issue!

– Khorshed Deboo 

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Orange Juice as a Cake?

On our money saving spree, we happened to visit Theobroma as well and came across their Orange Juice Cake. It looks a lot  like a tea cake, but just a little more appetizing,  since it looks like it has been drenched in an orange syrup. For Rs35, you get a slice.

Initially we thought, what a boring name. How can you not think of something more innovative?

We’ve always been very particular about the moisture of our cakes.Especially tea cakes. But this by far, surpassed out expectations.

Layered twice with regular sponge cake and filled with an orange compote-like liquid, this slice had just as much moisture as a regular pastry.

We just can’t seem to get enough of this.

Tip: If you muster up the self control to buy it and wait for a few hours, it tastes best when cold.

PS- If you’re very lucky and turn up when they haven’t yet cut their first slice, ask for it and you get the maximum amount of cake!

[The entire cake which looks a little like a loaf is for Rs.350]

-Avanti Adivarekar

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Trippin’ on Chocolates

Aptly registered under ‘Mood Swings Confectionery’, Pure Sin is perhaps one of the very few chocolate outlets that imparts a slight hint of bitterness to almost all of its products. Tucked away in a garage-sized area on the ground floor of a residential building in the busy Churchgate area, it is likely that you will fail to notice their board, which is not quite strategically placed.

Established in 1993, it has managed to retain its loyal clientele and attracted many more customers over the years. While it primarily caters to corporate orders especially during festivals, its impressive range of liqueur chocolates is what makes us return again and again.  Each of them have innovative names, ranging from Crusin’ the Caribbean (a heady fusion of dark rum and chocolate) to Appletini (a combination of fresh apples and vodka – a clear winner!) and a funny ‘Rumpunzel’ as well. The non-liquor range consists of sixteen varieties of chocolates – Cashew Rocks, Baby Brown, What the Fudge and Berry d’Cheez being clear favorites. The staff is friendly, obliging and happy to help you decide what to settle for. The fact that they generously offer chocolates for tasting earns them brownie points. The prices range from Rs. 1350 to Rs. 2250 per kilo for the liquor range and from Rs. 1215 to Rs. 1350 for the non-liquor ones. Unlike other chocolate parlors, they will willingly pack a tiny box of chocolates weighing 100 grams, which we generally prefer.

Chocolate Box

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

‘Pure Sin in Circles’ (Rs. 35)  is a round biscuit coated with dollops of chocolate and available in four flavors- hazelnut, orange, milk and caramel.  They also take orders for party themed chocolate lollipops (Rs 25 to 35 per piece).

Pure Sin in Circles -- Hazelnut flavoured

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

However, what impressed us the most was the sinfully assembled and thoughtfully wrapped lot of chocolates packed in tiny boxes. Each chocolate is carefully wrapped and tied with a tiny ribbon. There is an assortment of colors for the ribbons, which helps to find out the flavor of the chocolate as per a printed ‘key’.

Its tagline goes like this….’Too beautiful to open, too delicious not to.’ Well, enough said.

At: G-5 Pil Court, 111 Mahrashi Karve Road, Mumbai 20 

Or visit them on Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/PuresinChoco

– Khorshed Deboo 

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In search of the perfect Carrot Cake

The word ‘chocolate’ almost has a magical ring to it and those who devour it will agree unanimously. Today, to our delight, there is no dearth to the ways in which chocolate is used in cooking.

How about giving it a break and exploring unconventional dessert options?

To begin with, for an otherwise uninteresting vegetable, carrots make for an exciting ingredient to conjure up a dessert. So we decided to scout around town in search of the perfect Carrot Cake. Read on to find out what catered to our taste buds and what failed to make the mark.

1.  Café West

As with most dishes on its menu, the Ginger and Carrot Cake (Rs. 60) at Café West is a damp squib. Appearances can certainly be deceptive. What looked like a perfectly shaped cake, turned out to be dry and a tad difficult to slice. Moreover, we did not quite like the fact that the sharp taste of ginger overpowered the carrot flavour. We’d suggest you stick to a Chocolate Pastry the next time you decide to come here.

At: Westside, Army and Navy Building, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai.

ginger and carrot

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

 

2.  Kala Ghoda Café

One of our current favourites, Kala Ghoda Café makes a mean Carrot Cake. Priced at Rs. 105, it is a huge chunk served with a perfectly sweet orange cream. Surprisingly moist and juicy, it scores full marks as far as the addition of dry fruit goes. No complaints here!

At: Kala Ghoda Café, 10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai

carrot cake at KGC

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

3.  Food For Thought

Served with a generous helping of whipped cream cheese frosting, the Carrot Cake (Rs. 120) took us by surprise. Mildly spiced with cardamom and adorned with slivers of almond, this home-made, unpretentious dessert is a must-try.

At: Kitab Khana, Somaiyya Bhavan, D.N Road, Fort, Mumbai.

Food For Thought

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

 4.  Yazdani Bakery

The square shaped Carrot Cake (Rs 18) makes for a no-fuss eat when paired with the milky Irani Chai. Though slightly crumbly, this one won’t really disappoint you. Plus, at eighteen bucks, isn’t it a steal?

At: Yazdani Bakery, Cawasji Patel Street, Fort, Mumbai. 

– Khorshed Deboo 

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Cafe by the Beach: A Review

Café by the Beach is going to go down in Bombay restaurant history, as the restaurant with possibly the best view since the erstwhile Café Naaz. The chilly breeze and some nice sound from the ocean is reminiscent of the choicest Goan shacks, but go forewarned: there is no alcohol here.

A lovely ambience for a group

To make the most of the ambience, we suggest you get a seaside table, which requires a minimum billing of 500 rupees, which is not much more than the bill would be even otherwise. The mocktails are excellent, like the Genoese Peel (Rs. 195) we tasted, which was the most savoury bitter concoction we have consumed in quite some time.

The food is promising, though inconsistent. The Roast Chicken (Rs. 295) and Smoked Chicken Sandwiches (Rs. 295), for example were perfectly prepared, with good ingredients, and a sharp dressing. This was in contrast with the Mushroom Wrap (Rs. 195), which tasted much like well seasoned rubber. The mushroom tragedy continued through the Chicken and Mushroom Lasagne, which was much too bitter and small to be enjoyed (Rs. 395).

The service was inefficient, be it in terms of speed or knowledge of the dishes. Our waiter told us the mushrooms were all of the button variety, while they were actually a mix, like the Captain corrected him. They did, however, serve us with a smile, which is always welcome.

It could be difficult to read under the dim lights, barely ambient, but very beautiful. This luminescent aura apart, one can notice how the palm trees would provide complete shade, making this place an interesting bet even for the daytime, one we would dare to venture to even in the light of the impending summer. There is a dim buzz of conversation, but it doesn’t spiral out of control.

The view you can't refuse

The desserts were not disappointing, though we probably expected better because of the positive reinforcement from the beach. The Tiramisu (Rs. 195) was lacking in the fine texture one would expect it to possess. Some relief and closure was provided by the Chocolate Brulee, (Rs. 195) a interesting version of the Crème Brulee.

We would come back a million times for the view, but order with caution. And possibly carry a hip flask in our bags.

Average meal for two: Rs. 1000

Cafe by the Beach: H2O Water Sports,
Charni Road on Marine Drive,
Mumbai.

Open from: 1 PM – 3 PM, 7:30 PM to Midnight.

Sarvesh Talreja

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Chocolate and Caramel in an Ice Cream

Walk into your closest Moshe.

See the jams? And see a cookie jar right beside it? Open it. Yank out the least broken of those squares and buy it. (Or actually, even a broken one will do)

Caramel Biscuit

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

We were on a money saving phase recently and started hunting for the cheapest of places. But, let’s face it-who can’t resist a trip to Moshe’s?

Anyway, we discovered this little square tucked away in a jar. Priced at Rs 50, It is probably the cheapest thing on their menu,along with granola bars. We’d generally wait to rip the cling film off these and begin munching into them till we very recently discovered a more innovative way to satiate sugar cravings.

Caramel Biscuit  at Moshe's

Photo Courtesy: Khorshed Deboo

Buy a small Mother Dairy Vanilla Ice cream cup (It’s for Rs.10!)and pour it into a bowl. I chopped up the biscuit into tiny squares and sprinkled them in the ice cream bowl.

Thus came to being our newest, quickest and cheapest dessert solution.

You know the best compliment we got? That it tasted like a McFlurry! That sent us to Cloud Nine.

– Avanti Adivarekar

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