Thursday 26 March 2015

Barbeque Nation - Marol, Mumbai

We were cruising towards a familiar region when the radio buzzed. The bloke on the other side frantically informed me that we were headin' in the wrong direction. Alarmed, I rushed out of the bridge and yelled at the lads to make a full reverse. It was a hot afternoon and the extra work made me crew hungrier. Passing unfamiliar islands and exploring a new sea is always fun but the hot weather sapped me crew's strength pretty fast. The crew cheered to no ends when the lookout spotted our destination. Docking at the nearby wharf, the landing party rushed towards our destination.

On a blazing hot day, the auto rickshaw that I was traveling in felt like a barbeque. This made me laugh at the co incidence and whinge at the hot weather. Both at the same time.

Today was my first trip to Barbeque nation, a well known restaurant chain that has been around for quite some time. Initially heading towards the Lokhandwala outlet my plans had to change midway and I instead head towards Times Square Mall(sounds cheesy Mr. Builder) at Marol. Surrounded by other big name restaurants like Pizza Express, BBQ Nation happens to be one of the jewels in the crown.

Barbeque nation has recently introduced Kulfi Nation which adds a Kulfi only station to its buffet. Unlimited Kebabs and Kulfi, who in all honesty could refuse such an offering?

"Yarr! that be me. A little sapped by the hot weather though."

Barbeque Nation is a casual dining restaurant that operates all across India and even some at foreign shores. The ambiance feels simple but yet cozy at the same time. It is cool, well maintained and inviting. The cushions on the chairs are a nice addition. The first thing that you notice when you sit down is a big square wooden lid at the center of the table. Beyond the lid likes an abyss which serves as an important placeholder for the restaurant's trademark object.

Crewmate : Captain, I got cut out of the picture.

Captain : Never mind lad there is always next time.

My Barbeque Nation experience began with a complimentary drink that's part of the buffet. This was a Mocktail and it resembled a margarita. In taste, it was much like a strawberry slush. Reminds me of the slush mountain reference that I once used in an earlier post.

Soon enough a charcoal grill was inserted into the abyss and several Kebab skewers were placed on it. The patrons can enjoy a genuine charcoal grill experience by rotating the skewers themselves. Its almost like doing the real thing in an open air barbeque grill. The kebabs are obviously cooked beforehand and the finishing touch is applied by the patron. Slowly rotate the skewers for a fine roast. Don't worry if things go south. The staff will ensure that your kebabs are perfect.

On the extreme right side of the picture is the Pepper Chicken with Rosemary Kebab. Smooth and tasty, this very much resembles one of my favorite kebabs - the Reshmi kebab. Its flavor is quite addicting and you can never have too much of it.

The saffron kebab in the center is Tandoori Fish Kebab. The menu is slightly erroneous on this one. It mentions Cod but its Basa. This is the best of the Barbeque trio. Atleast to me. Its tangy with spices leaping out with every bite. The Basa is well cooked deep within and the flavors sync properly.

And at the extreme left side is the Moqueca Shrimp. Google suggests Moqueca is a Brazilian style of preparation. Although the taste I felt was very much different from what Moqueca is described as, I enjoyed the shrimps just the same. It was savory with crunchy prawns marinated with spices and a dash of lemon.

Captain : Not only is this tasty, It feels like a genuine barbeque in the great outback.

Crewmate : Hey cool, I can move the skewers like foosball levers.

Captain : If ya play with yer food, I shalt share none with you.

Crewmate : But Cappy this is an unlimited buffet.

Mutton Seekh Kebab was not served as a part of the grill experience and I am thankful about it. Their cooking appears much more advanced to be left in the hands of a hungry and inexperienced patron. Never send a gourmand to do a chef's job as they say. These were juicy with flavor and had a pleasant aroma. I enjoyed these as much as the Tandoori Fish Kebabs.

Sultan Tangdi Kebab was a little bit of a damp squib. It was a drumstick kebab with alluring visuals but I found very less meat on the bone. It tasted well but its portion size affected the experience. Could easily be an one off incident since I did not give this a second chance. So I will not whinge over this.

Mexican Stick Kebab had a strange name. Did they mean steak? Surely that's not possible as its a kebab for vegetarians. This was a thin kebab which had a visual resemblance to potato cutlets. However, its flavor was far better. Slightly Tangy, marinated with spices and made out of potato and peas - This was a great all vegetarian Kebab.

Cajun Spice Potato Kebab was the best amongst the Vegetarian Kebabs. Marinated with tangy spices and loaded with Cajun seasonings and sauce, this Kebab had a mesmerizing effect. One could keep having this several times without even noticing. It didn't appear very good with its plating but the taste makes up for it.

Captain : This is addicting mate.

Crewmate :  I concur.

Captain : Another plate please !

Crewmate : I concur !

I would like to add at this point the fact that you can have unlimited Kebabs as part of the buffet. (Of course this is limited by the restaurants closing times). The restaurant is known for its Kebabs, so its not a sin to skip the main courses for even more Kebabs. But if you feel like you are finished then there is a nice little flag thingy on your table which you can push down to signal the servers to stop spoiling you with more Kebabs.

Moving on to the mains. Truth be said, I felt that their main course platter needs some work. And my bias with bones in main courses caused me to not go beyond tasting portions for the same.

I am not too worried about the mains being a little off. I came to Barbeque nation only for their Kebabs and Kulfis. However if the main dishes are supposed to be a part of the platter, then these need a fair amount of improvement.

The food train departed for the next station which was the Desserts area.

The Phirni(Left in bottom row) tasted nice. The earthen cup added a nice touch to the whole thing.

The Walnut brownie(Middle in bottom row) tasted very ordinary. Not much different from any other brownie that I have had. Was a bit dry due to the exposure to the atmosphere. Would have been nice if these were sealed in a thin plastic film.

The Fruit salad(Right in Bottom row) was an interesting add on for those who like it with food. As for me I gave it a skip.

Krastina Cup(Left in Top row) is a peculiar name. It was made of cream and strawberry flavoring. The cream tasted very similar to an eggless mousse like preparation. It was the best amongst this platter of desserts.

Apple Pie (Middle in Top Row) had an eggless crust so felt a bit dry. But the apple filling inside was to the mark and tasted good. Not the best Apple Pie that I have had but fairly decent.

Totadi Chickalato (Left in Top Row) is a funny and a strange name. It very much resembled the Torta de Chocolate which is Italian for Chocolate cake. It had a similar taste to classical chocolate pastries and cakes. Good for those with a chocolate craving after meals.

There were Ice Creams and Angoori Gulab Jamun as well. I gave these a skip since I have had these one too many times. Maybe I will try them next time.

All the desserts were made by an in house patissier and not sourced from outside.This is a rare practice as most restaurants often source western desserts from third party bakers.

Moving on to the final leg of my Barbeque Nation journey was the Kulfi Nation station. Long before the advent of ice cream in India, there was always Kulfi. Earlier a treat reserved only for royals and the most rich, Kulfi has come a long way and become a part of the common Indian's life. Creamier and denser than Ice cream, it is a desi dessert extraordinaire.

Barbeque Nation pays tribute to the eternal Indian frozen dessert by introducing a station specially dedicated to Premium Kulfi. Kebabs and Kulfis, that has got a nice ring to it. The station is usually manned by bandana wearing servers but my Kulfi was plated by Chef Aleem himself(The Executive chef of this Barbeque nation outlet).

Anjir(Fig) Kulfi with Caramel sauce and almond bits was the best Kulfi that I have ever had so far. I have had Fig Kulfi before but never with Caramel sauce. The flavors of both the fig and the Caramel blended in together like Romeo and Juliet or Laurel and Hardy. The combination made me both happy and sad at the same time. Happy because this was an absolute gem of a dessert. Sad because I never got to eat this before.

Captain : Long have I dreamed of riding a Kulfi boat across a river of caramel...

Crewmate : Uh oh the dessert songs.

Captain :  Passing islets of almonds,

Crewmate : High on dessert again? Its that good, huh Cappy?

Kesar Pista(Saffron Pistachio) with mango sauce and candied fruit bits. Had the timeless flavor of Kesar Pista Kulfi with a sweet ribbon of Mango sauce. The fruit bits added to both the flavor and plating of the same.

A mix-match of different flavors, toppings and sauces results in the total number of combinations being in the north of 800. This means that you could come here every single day for an entire year and yet never run out of something new in the Kulfi department. Since its a part of the buffet, you can have unlimited Kulfi. The only thing better than Kulfi is unlimited Kulfi. Loosen your belt and satisfy your sweet cravings.

I was full at this point and sadly could not indulge myself in more Kulfi.

The service is one of the finest that I have ever seen. Not just me but every other patron seated around me was receiving exemplary service. I have also read blogs/reviews from many others who have often praised the service here. They make you feel like aristocrats. They are disciplined, professional and pleasant.

Captain : Maybe I should recruit these restaurant lads as my crew.

Crewmate : Aww Cappy.

Captain : I jest lad, I jest.

The pricing is variable depending on the day of the week. Could be as high as 920 INR in the latter half of the week or as low as 700-800 INR (at time of this post) in the first two days of the week. I feel the prices are mediocre. Cannot really call it expensive since Kebabs do require a lot of effort in preparation and there is the added benefit of unlimited Kulfi.

To conclude, I will say that Barbeque Nation is a great experience. Come here for the Kebabs and the Kulfis. That is what they specialize at. Mains tend to fill you up faster leaving less room for the better stuff. However that being said, the mains do require work and diversity. This is the only place where Barbeque nation loses points.

The Captain's Score : 9/10

"Oi lads, you have had enough Kulfi. That's enough energy for a week. Time to traverse the oceans at twice the speed. All hands on deck, on the double. Until Next Time."

Map Co-Ordinates
Barbeque Nation
3, Ground Floor, Tower A, Time Square,
Andheri-Kurla Road,  
Marol, Mumbai

Phone: 022 60600000

-I was invited to review Barbeque nation and their newest fixture Kulfi Nation.-
-Additional Thanks go to Mr. Sarfaraz Shaikh and Chef Aleem Qureshi for their time and warm hospitality.-

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