Friday 28 August 2015

Choc Le' - Sion, Mumbai

It was a sunny afternoon with not a shore in sight.
I whistled as I turned the helm with all me might.
And then suddenly there was something in the sea.
Me men alerted stood by me.

There was a lone bloke on a small speed boat,
He took a box out from his coat.
I asked him, what that might be.
And he laughed, open for its yours to see.

Then he sped, away from the ship,
As I wondered about the box in me grip.
I carefully, opened the box.
And cheered at the sight of sweet brown blocks.

I think that was a cheesy or a chocolatey poem if you may but eh sweet times demand a little more entertainment.

I was connected to Choc Le' by Pooja Trehan Dhamecha of Nuvo Foodies. Being one of me favorite desserts, who am I to say no to an offer of a box of premium chocolates delivered straight to my doorstep.
Bring it on, I say.

The package looked really great, resembling some kind of a chic designer bag. I carefully opened it because I could not rip open such a well crafted box. Akin to a hunter falling in love with his prey.

Upon opening, it revealed a small treasure inside. Two Deserts, a small bottle of jam and a box of chocolates. Choc Le' a clever word play to Chocolate, is a brand captained by Rupali Samat. Make no mistake, Rupali is no small timer. Choc Le' is a brand that produces chocolates and desserts in hundreds of kilos everyday. They supply many establishments in the hospitality industry and are ISO certified displaying the amount of professionalism involved.

Choc Le' makes only vegetarian desserts which means no egg.

Lets move on to the contents of the goodie box.

Plain Cheesecake in a cookie cup with Apple-Rosemary Jam. The dessert looked plain at the start. There was very little cheesecake and the taste was dominated by the thick and tasty cookie cup. The cookie dough had choco chunks added to it and tasted soft and buttery. The cheesecake seemed to be made of cream as opposed to cream cheese so it felt more like a cream cake.

But the story doesn't end there. The true flavor of this dessert was brought out by the Apple rosemary jam. A tangy apple jam with rosemary feels like a very fun idea to be put on anything. The rosemary heightens the natural tang of the apple. This jam when applied to the cake makes it exceptionally tasty. It resembles and tastes like a tart more than cheesecake at this stage.

Captain : I need to find me a way to mass produce tis magical Apple and Rosemary jam.

Crewmate : But that would destroy the novelty of this moment. It will no longer feel the same.

Captain : That's deep lad. I shall remember that.

Orange Marmalade Mousse was a tasty little dessert with a zesty orange marmalade syrup dominating the flavor. The mousse felt a bit jelly like owing to the addition of gelatin. A regular mousse is supposed to be airy and creamy but its difficult to attain those attributes without egg binding the mixture. So gelatin was used instead which imparted the jelly like feel to the dessert.

The Chocolates which were an eclectic mix of Desi and Western flavors.

The Coffee flavored piece was full of dense choco-mocha liquor. The flavor resembled the Coffee cream candies that are sold by a certain brand in India. I very much enjoyed it.

The Chilli Chocolate looked aesthetically pleasing. As if autumn had dawned upon a chocolate landscape, paprika had been peppered generously on the surface. However, I felt no presence of the heat or spice deeper in the chocolate. It was plain dark chocolate within. The flavors were not married properly, only being attached superficially.

The Cookie dough piece looked very ordinary from the outside and somehow I could not sense anything different within. It was good dark chocolate no doubt but there was no cookie dough to be found. It may have been that the flavoring was very subtle and I missed it completely.

The Sea salt Caramel piece was the best of the lot. This was a chocolate shell filled with a dense creamy concoction of salted caramel. It combined two of my favorite sensations - Chocolate and Caramel. The salt gave it a very taffy like feel to it. In fact, I ended up licking my fingers for left over Caramel after finishing this treat.

Captain : A man of sea always loves sea salt Caramel.

Crewmate : Too bad I ate the Caramel piece.

Captain : Nooooo.

Crewmate : Just messin' with ya.

Hazelnut and almond was a rich delight with just the right amount of nuts in it. Unlike mainstream brands which cunningly reduce the chocolate and overload the products with nuts, Choc Le' got it perfect by adding a small amount of moderately ground nuts to a dense continent of chocolate. The aroma of the hazelnut and the flavor of chocolate were quite heavenly. My only suggestion would be to reduce almond and increase hazelnut.

The Pistachio piece was the most aesthetically pleasing item of the lot. The picture speaks for itself. The flavor was a bit odd however. I love both Pistachios and Chocolates but somehow both of them together do not work out for me. The flavors neutralize each other out instead of complementing.

Masala Chai was an interesting concept to the world of Chocolates. And Choc Le' is the only brand in my experience to have done it. If the Japanese can make a green tea flavored chocolate why can't the Indians make Masala Chai flavored Chocolates?

Unlike its Matcha counterparts, Masala Chai was much more lively in terms of flavor. The spices played with my taste buds before giving a rich after taste down my throat. I liked the mystery behind the flavor and I always enjoy creativity. This piece is definitely one of Choc Le's best.

The Orange Piece was a fascinating tile of chocolate. I found an orange creamy Oreo like filling inside the chocolate instead of the regular oozing orange syrup that I am used to having with Orange chocolates. It was quite good as I found the cream to be tastier than the chocolate itself.

My only gripe with the box was the lack of a Mint truffle which happens to be my favorite. Who knows how many boxes of "After Eights" I have devoured in my greedy quest. But effectively, I found more hits than misses with the Choc Le' box of Chocolates.

Choc Le' with its choices and diverse options will certainly satiate your need for Chocolates. Give it a try.

The Captain's Score : 7/10

"Lets share the treasure lads but remember the Captain gets the largest share. Aha."

Map Co-Ordinates
Choc Le'
220, Champaklal Industrial Estate,
Sion, Mumbai

-I was sent a Goodie box by Choc Le'. The same was arranged by my good friend Pooja Tehan Dhamecha-

Sunday 23 August 2015

Aqaba - Lower Parel, Mumbai

The ship stood still as I slept on the deck with one of me charts covering my face. It was a pleasant night and the stars were out in the full. Suddenly the calm seas were disturbed by a mild gust of wind. The chart flew off my face waking me up. The breeze carried the chart with it alarming me. That chart was important because it lead to...uh I forget. But carrying on with this little sea tale, I chased after the flying chart to the edge of the ship. 

That was when I saw a flotilla of ships heading somewhere. Not wanting to miss out on the action. I followed the flotilla clandestinely. The ships stopped and out came the dinghies as their crews rowed their way towards the land. I got a few of me mates as we rowed our way to the coast. I tailed the crews as they disappeared in a large structure. On entering the structure, I heard of a grub party in a place called Aqaba. What serendipity! Now where would Aqaba be.

I pulled out my pocket watch (actually my smartphone) and exclaimed "I am late." The actual fact was that I wasn't late but that comes with me being a punctuality freak. There was no hint of where Aqaba could be. I made a few circumambulations around the Peninsula complex until I found a security guard who pointed me to the right direction.

The event was a massive meet up of 'almost' everyone in the food blogging/reviewing sphere that I hold dear.

So as expected, Aqaba was raided at dinner time by a motley platoon of hungry food writers.

The name Aqaba seems to be inspired from a coastal Jordanian city and a popular tourist destination. Though the inspiration stops just at the name. The place had a very western feel to it. There were also some Sakura like trees added into the ambiance which makes the place resemble an upscale New York restaurant.
Its housed within an office complex so it can be hard to find your way around.

The dining area is huge and its surprising how such a big restaurant can be hidden behind that small door.. Its almost like someone played with the fourth dimension while constructing the restaurant.

And if that was not large enough, Aqaba had a beautiful courtyard for banquets and possibly wedding parties. The courtyard had a breath taking view of the city's skyline. Methinks that this place on its own could make a very good roof top restaurant.

Aqaba comes out to be a Lebanese restaurant initially but it is a mixed bag with dishes from Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Jordan, UAE and even European countries like Greece and Italy. Its safe to say that you will always find something worth your moolah in Aqaba.

The meal started with this brilliant looking Virgin Orange Mojito. But the flag off was a bit bumpy since this drink despite its enticing visuals lacked both tang and sweetness. I could not find myself finishing it since it lacked flavor completely.

Kakabia soup looks like a curious misspell of Kakavia. While it did not quite resemble the ancient Greek delicacy being a bit higher on the broth and lesser on the seafood, the concoction was still heavenly. The stew was quite delicious. The flavor was salty-savory with prawns dominating the flavor.

This soup made me forget the drink at the start and I considered this as the real start to the evening. The bread stick did not quite pair well with the soup so I left it out. Its a soup that smells of adventure while sailing across the Mediterranean coast.

Captain : This soup brings back memories of me adventures in the Mediterranean. 

Crewmate : Those were good times Cappy.

Captain : We are still young lad. This Kakavia inspires me to set sails again for the those tranquil seas and the warm sun.

Marakkesh Spiced Pita was a Moroccan twist to the regular Pita. Rubbed with a spicy North African mix, this pita platter found a lot of fans across the table. I found myself stuffing three or four of these. It was clear that Aqaba tried something different than just dumping a platter of pita on the table with some dips. And like most times, creativity scored.

Regular Pita Platter - Despite the above, Aqaba did offer regular pita with an assortment of dips including the old favorites like Hummus, Tzatziki and Baba Ganoush. Though the old favorites fell flat from a flavor point of view, there was another dip in the set. The dark horse of the show.

This was the Norwegian Smoked Salmon and dill dip which instantly became everyone's best friend. Not just pita but this dip found its way to pizzas and everything and anything else. It was almost a savory version of Nutella. To quote somebody on the table, "Man even cardboard would taste great with this dip."

Captain : Lad lets pilfer this salmon dip and make a run for it.

Crewmate : Salmon dip and Pizza :D

Captain : Oi, Are you listening?

Crewmate : Salmon dip and rice :D

Captain : Captain to dullard. Can you hear me?

Crewmate : Salmon dip and Ice cream. :D

Captain: Aye, that's getting weird now.

After the pita appetizer course, the mains appeared on the horizon. Batata hara is supposedly a Lebanese spiced potato dish. I have not had it before so I cannot comment much on it. But its safe to say, that it was probably not close to the real deal. The old and wise Internet suggests that neither the flavor nor the appearance mimicked the original. The dish found no love across the table as it was moved like dead weight by people trying to make space for better stuff.

Harissa Humus and Chicken Shawarma was a colossal disappointment for something priced at INR 600. Being a Shawarma lover myself, I have had better Shawarmas at Maroosh and the like at a quarter of the cost. The Harissa was either too less or absent. This Shawarma lacked the succulent juiciness that the meat in this preparation usually has.

The Paesana Pizza was the best highlight of the evening. Despite its curious naming, the pizza itself was one of the best that I have ever had. The smoked sausages and roasted chicken were cooked in the absolute perfect way that I can imagine. The flavor was smoky, salty and addicting. The sausages were of premium quality. It reminded me the pizzas which I had as a child at Narulas in Delhi.

Till that day, I had been looking to find a pizza with similar taste and had been unsuccessful. Aqaba fulfilled this decades long quest of mine. Though the basil pesto did not contribute much to the flavor, it still helped in making the pie visibly and aromatically enticing. The pizza was definitely a ten on ten.

Captain : This pizza takes me back many years. I have been searching for this my whole life.

Crewmate : Just like the white whale?

Captain : That's Captain Ahab you barnacle headed scallywag.

The Moroccan Fish was perhaps the most debated item among sea food lovers on the table. While at surface, it appeared well cooked with a good mix of spices and orange butter. The interiors however suggested that fish had been overcooked a bit. As such the dish ended up being an average preparation despite having immense potential. If the cooking had been just right, this could have easily been one of the stars of the evening.

Malfatti con Spinach E Ricotta was a hidden gem in the menu. When it arrived, a lot of us conservative protein folks looked at it with one eye. However like the adventurous epicurean that I claim to be, I fished out one of these spinach and Ricotta dumplings on me plate and ate it. And everything changed then. There was sudden silence and everything else vanished from the sight. These baked dumplings dipped in a tomato Parmesan sauce were the only things in sight.

The flavor was heavenly and this dish could make even the most conservative of carnivores a food liberal. The sauce had a divine aroma as well. Reality was restored when the dish was completely devoured by the people across the table. It brought me both happiness and disappointment. (That it got over so fast.)

Mansaf is supposed to be a Jordanian equivalent of Biryani. Just loaded with more meat than rice. Aqaba's version appeared uninspiring resembling a mediocre Stroganoff. The flavor felt very dry and the rice tasted unauthentic(Tasted like Boiled rice) for an Arab dish. Its fair to say that this recipe needs a rework. Mansaf did no Insaf to the recipe.

Falafel is one of the few vegetarian dishes from the Middle East. Its usage of chickpeas makes it a tough preparation in India as most Indian chefs often end up making moong dal vadas or local Chick pea variants instead. Aqabas variant remains true to the Arab recipe and I found the flavor to be consistent with the Falafels that I had in Dubai. The taste was rich and went well with the hummus.

Aqaba scored highly on desserts as most of them were devoured before I could lay my eyes upon them. That tends to happen in large meet ups where people's primal instincts takes over their refined connoisseurs personas. In a fight of the strongest, I managed to purloin a few portions.

I would have been happier if Aqaba had considered the fact that a single portion of their pretty desserts will not be enough for fifteen people across the table.

Aqaba's Tiramisu was easily one of the best that I had in Mumbai. The item was well plated and tasted well. Just a little complaint would be that it was perhaps a bit too bitter than expected.

Captain : This looks pretty. Tell you what lad, let me have all of this and I shall give you a week of any duty you desire.

Crewmate : Can I be a part of all the landing parties for a week?

Captain : You got it lad.

Crewmate : Sweet, I was not a Tiramisu person anyway.

Captain : Barnacles.

The Baklava felt very mediocre in flavor. I won't say that these pastries were bad but I have had better. Perhaps, I was expecting more from Aqaba since Baklavas are common across a lot of Arab countries, Greece and Turkey.

The Baked Yogurt was a fun dessert for those who are fond of Yogurt. The berry confiture provided a sweet tang to the dense liquid below.  The presentation was quite good too.

The Chocolate Fondant was average. I found the liquid to be less sweet and viscous than expected. The crust was a bit dryer than normal.

The pricing for Aqaba tends to be diverse. While some items feel well worth the money like the Malfatti and the Paesana pizza is a steal at INR 475. I am still curious how the Shawarma can cost INR 600.

The service was all right but could certainly be improved. The servers were not well informed on the dishes and we had to collectively put our gyan (Knowledge) to play on analyzing the dishes.

In totality, Aqaba is a pot pourri of many cuisines. Emirati, Lebanese, Jordanian, Moroccan, Greek and Italian seem to form the core of their menu. And strangely to me, their best dishes were from their Greek and Italian fare.

I would recommend the Kakabia soup, Marakkesh Spiced Pita, Paesana Pizza, Malfatti, Rose petal Ice cream (this was apparently served on our table and vanished in seconds) and Tiramisu.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

"All right lads, we leave as quietly as we entered. Out from this concrete complex and back to the Blue seas where we belong. Until next time."

Map Co-Ordinates
Level P5, Peninsula Business Park,
Senapati Bapat Marg, 
Lower Parel, Mumbai

-The meal was extended by the Restaurant to our group as part of a review menu. My good friend Assad Daddan arranged everything for us.-

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Eat Pray Luv - Bandra West, Mumbai

It had been a rough day and I was almost falling asleep on the helm. At sea good sailors often pray that the voyage is safe, that they have good grub to eat and perhaps some love along the straits. As I steered me ship through the dark sea lanes, there was a small noise on the radio. I looked at the innocuous radio and felt that it was my imagination. Tiredness can cause hallucinations after all. Then suddenly the radio came alive making me jump on my feet.

The voice on the radio belonged to a fine young lad that I had met in me travels. He sounded excited and asked my position. On providing him the same, he asked whether I could join him in an ongoing carnival on a nearby island. My eyes opened wide. "Tired, who is tired?" I stormed out of the pilothouse.

"Lads we have a CARNIVAL going on nearby, full speed ahead." For tired men, they executed me orders almost instantly. After all - A good sailor never passes down a dame, a feast and a carnival.

It is often said that if you think of something hard enough, it actually happens. Ever since the famous book appeared on the shelves, many food reviewers and bloggers started calling themselves as some variant of Eat-pray-love-repeat. But that wasn't the miracle we were waiting for. The miracle was a casual Italian Diner called Eat Pray Luv that appeared in Bandra.

Eat Pray Luv (EPL) is a sparkling new establishment that has appeared on the rooftop of a building called C'est La vie translating roughly to "Thats life". The building is a club that houses several clubs and a rooftop swimming pool which faces EPL.

Whether by design or by sheer co incidence - The wind entering the roof from the gaps, passes over the pool becoming cool and makes the environment pleasant. Our very own Hawa Mahal if you may. That readers, indeed is life. The pool and the illumination from the dim orange lights set up quite a mood. EPL aptly sits as the crown on top of C'est La vie.

EPL is the creation of Chef Davide Cananzi who after his stint with Mariot group and Mezzo Mezzo decided to champion his own place in his image. Davide is an energetic, multitasking and a funny man with a rather zany sense of humor. He is also hospitable and seems to be a cool cat. That explains his choice of having a rooftop place near a pool. Its a place where the coolness could probably calm down even the likes of Arnab Goswami. Someone give this man a thousand cookies.

I was part of a little Blogger meetup organized by Team EPL (nothing to do with IPL I swear). Jay Dhawan, one of my young friends, suggested my name to the team hence getting me on board for the experience.

The evening started with the first course of drinks. Since I was tired, I settled for a virgin......drink that night.

Berry Mojito was a tangy, sour and a candied version of the regular Mojito. The appearance looked classy and it worked quite well for a virgin Mojito. The sour came from lemons while the sweetness from cranberry and strawberry. Just to note, that those with a lower tolerance for sour may not be too fond of this.

When in Rome do as the Romans do, when in an Italian place with an Italian chef - eat what the Italians do. Salted Tuna Cannoli were tube pastries filled with a delicious mix of cream cheese and soft Tuna. The Tuna represented coastal grub while the Cream cheese symbolized modern Cafe grub. Brought together and they produce a taste like none other. It would be fair to say that flavor oozed out of every bite into the pastry. Cigars of glee I'd say.

Captain : This is truly a dish for a Captain.

Crewmate : Does that mean, I don't get any Cappy ? :(

Captain : You can have one lad.

Crewmate : One Cannoli cigar :D ?

Captain : One Bite.

Jerk Chicken Wings is a Jamaican delicacy that I don't find too often in Mumbai. In fact, I have only been recently acquainted with this bar nibble. EPL's version was plated well but ended up being an insipid experience. Usually, a good chicken dish calls out to me and I rarely pass the plate with just a tasting portion.

Baked Aubergine with ricotta and ham was a visually pleasing dish. It felt fine for the most part though it was not enough to surpass my dislike for Aubergines. The edges of the aubergine slices felt a bit sharp and stiff. The dish however was thoroughly enjoyed across the table suggesting that my nitpicking with it could be due to an inherent resistance against the purple bulb. A person who is fine with eggplant would probably enjoy this better.

Is it a dollop of Ice Cream? a Raj Kachori? Nope it was Burrata with happiness and thrills on the side.
This was my first encounter with this dish and obviously I did an itty bitty googling on the same. I could not find a picture that looked better than what was served on my plate. It won over me visually. The item is literally the holy grail of cheese lovers every where.

The outer shell seemed to be made of Mozarella while it was filled with softer cheese and cream within. The balsamic caramelized figs addition was like a crown on a king. Salty, savory with a a bit of sweet and tangy. This complete package was quite an experience. This is one of the best things I have ever had Burrata..I mean Brotha.

Captain : This has goodness oozing out of it.

Crewmate : This is almost perfection. A Cheese casing with more cheese inside.

Captain : Yo Dawg, I heard you like cheese. So we put cheese inside your cheese. So you can have cheese while you eat cheese.

Crewmate : What the barnacles!!

Spaghetti Chicken Wings felt like an item that was perhaps a victim of too many things happening. The item was supposed to have Mozzarella but felt a bit lacking on that part.

If one has to analyze the appetizers, I would say that EPL worked well for Italian delicacies but fell short on the foreign ones.

I eyed the servers as they brought in the main courses which were dominated by Pizza. My joy knew no bounds, after all what is an Italian place without the pizza?

Biancaneve is a very special name. Translating to Snow White in Italian, this pizza certainly lived up to its name. Its looked like a regal white monarch crowned with a Tiara of Arugula(Rucola) adorned by ruby like cherry tomatoes. The salty creamy Mascarpone provided comfort to the taste buds. It was enough for them to swoon over it akin to young women in a rockstar's concert.

The truffle oil proved to be a better ingredient than pure olive oil as it provided a savory undertone that brought out the flavors of everything else. The Parmesan flakes added to the whole experience by providing a different kind of saltiness. The pizza was the best amongst the trio of pizza served to us. And this comes from a person who usually avoids vegetarian pizzas.

Captain : Oh-my-Bianca, make me happy, make me complete, give me the joys of life.

Crewmate : Is that your lady, Cappy? 

Captain : No its my pizza.

Prosciutto e Rucola felt like the Star Batsman who went out for a duck. Although, Proscuitto ham is supposed to be served thin, the ham slices used here were ultra thin and too few in the pizza to make an impression on the flavor. The flavor was largely dominated by the Arugula leaves which did not make it a good affair.

Capricciossa in some ways resembled capriccio music. It was simple yet liberally made. This scrumptious beauty was packed with artichokes, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes in a lava of the softest mozzarella cheese ever. The thin slices with cheese flowing over them provided treat to both the eyes and the tongue. EPL has to be the Eden for vegetarian pizzas. 

I was full at this point and had to miss on some of these lovely delicacies.

But my appetite was resurrected as soon as I laid my eyes upon the dessert. Chef Davide had been very persistent upon all of us waiting till the very end. And I am glad that we listened to him.

There is no spoon. 
Davide's signature Tiramisu had an appearance that looked straight out of a Masterchef contest. The color, aroma and the appearance of the Tiramisu was perfect by text book definition. Made with real Mascarpone cheese, ladyfinger crumbs, coffee and cocoa, this was the paradigm of a true Tiramisu. Have a bite and fall in love with this Italian masterpiece. You will never want to eat Tiramisu from anywhere else again. If you are a dessert traveler who would travel far and wide for the best, do consider a trip to EPL.

Chocolate mouse with Mystery Jam - The Tiramisu was amazing, there is absolutely no question about that. But the show was stolen by this simple looking Chocolate mousse. This dark chocolate delight felt like an oddity straight from an Enid Blyton book. The rich and dense Chocolate liquor felt like a heavenly elixir and then at the bottom was a strange red glaze. At first bite it tasted like strawberry jam making it a Choco strawberry mousse.

But upon digging even further, one found that this jam was actually a mixture of strawberry and chili. Hence sweet with a bit of tongue tip heat could be the best sensory description for this. I could have written Chocolate mousse with Chili strawberry jam at the start but that would have ruined the mystery ha. This mousse was strangely addicting especially with the chili.

Captain : Oceans of chocolate around me.

Crewmate : It begins.

Captain : Deep within is the fabled strawberry.

Crewmate : Carry on.

Captain :  But wait, dont forget the Chili.

The staff is well informed about all the goods on the menu. They even pronounce the goods with an Italian accent. The whole experience was reminiscent of having fine food by the pool in a classy five star hotel.

The pricing is variable. For some grub options it may feel taxing but for its excellent desserts and pizzas its quite value for money. For an overall four course experience, EPL may actually be cheaper than most fine dines in the city.

I will say it as many times necessary. The evening was amazing. Eat Pray Luv had the finest grub compared to all of my previous Roof top dining experiences. In fact, its tranquil and cool atmosphere was almost inspiring. I would love to visit EPL again.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

"Eh you greedy scallywags, stop lickin' your dessert cups and spoons. A fine wind blows our way and we have rough winds to sleigh. So raise the flag, grab the ropes and lets sail away."

Map Co-Ordinates
Eat Pray Luv

64, 3rd Floor,
Near Holy Family Hospital, Hill Road,
Bandra West, Mumbai
Phone : +91 9820436666

-I was invited by the EPL team and Disha Kotak to sample some of Chef Davide's delicacies. Special thanks go to Jay Dhawan who passed me the invite. And to Chef Davide for being such a great host.-

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Thursday 13 August 2015

Cafe Terra - Pali Hill, Mumbai

The weather looked devious and the rain would come and go. The sky was grey and the waves were rough. Most of me crew was in the lower decks as I and a few of the lads steered the ship in the storm. The roar of the thundering wind and the angry waves was almost deafening and we longed to find a sanctuary to get away from the inclement weather.

Suddenly the lookout rang the bell ferociously. And I got out me looking glass to see what he was pointing at. At first it looked like a light house in the middle of the sea but it turned out to be a small island with a tower. Whats more interesting was that there was a restaurant at the very top of that tower. Sanctuary and Grub.

The Gods of the sea were gracious as they led us to Terra.

The Mumbai Zoman community is trying to catch up to some of the more buzzing Zoman collectives in London, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and even Pune. What better way than to host an event in a chic Mediterranean themed cafe on a rooftop? And one of the many Zomato invitations managed to reach tis' Captain's humble mailbox. Terra was an Terra-fic name and enough for me to make the voyage. Onwards to Terra.

Imagine arriving at a concert and you find yourself seeing an incomplete stage and the organizers working out on issues. That is what I felt when I stepped in. But then, imagine if time passes quickly and suddenly you are in the middle of a buzzing concert. Was the first part just a dream or did the place Terra-form? As the sun went down and darkness descended upon us, the Cafe started looking complete and quite pretty too. Welcome to the sky.

I am a person who loves lighting, the feel, the romance and the energy in the air. Cafe Terra seemed like a cool place who had these all. The music was perfect and I was a bit surprised to see an old man who would better fit into the shoes of a stereotyped office boss mixing the music. But eh, he totally brought the house down. Perhaps he was the Guru or the big Daddy-O of many a young DJs. While the daytime appearance was compared to Greek and Mediterranean Islands by a few, the night appearance definitely resembled a North Goan club. It transformed from a quaint cafe to a party zone in a matter of minutes.

The event had a special menu which felt a tad bit restricted but eh it had a few hits of its own.

The Zinfandel Rose Sangria was a mystery mix which had Wine, Vodka, Melon balls and some other unknown ingredients. Rahul Rohra, Terra's owner and a master chemist of fine cocktails refused to divulge the secrets of this tangy and potent mix offering his smile as the only consolation. Its color was quite intriguing being very atypical of the usual Sangria. I held my glass high and looked over the city as man made lights grew brighter. To prosperity and Mumbai.

The cocktail was a nice start to the sun downer event and seemed to go well with the Feta-Melon (with basil and a drizzle of Balsamic reduction) skewers. It built quite an appetite.

The Honey Mustard Chicken Salad was perhaps one the best Chicken salads that I have had. While the greens were in abundance, the chicken was equally abundant as well. One too often does one find places going scrooge on the chicken in such salads. The sweet honey mustard concoction stuck to the chicken giving it a mix of a savory and candied kind of sweet flavor. Even the lettuce and corn felt rich with the liquid. Never have I found myself being a glutton for salad. This mix would please both Popeye and Wimpy.

Prawn skewers in a herb crust was perhaps the finest attraction of the evening. I am not a big fan of prawns but every once in a while some chef manages to make a Prawn lover out of me. The herb coating added a very savory snackilicious feel to the prawns. They were tender and juicy. The provided dip did not quite augment the already superior taste so it felt redundant. This item paired quite well with the Zinfandel Sangria.

Captain : These would make a nice snack with me grog.

Crewmate : We could smuggle a barrelful aboard the ship.

Captain : But that would last only a day at best.

Banana Leaf wrapped fish was apparently Pomfret cooked inside the leaf. Though, I am not fond of fish with scales but disregarding that I felt that it was wee bit unnaturally salty for my linking.

Epic Club Sandwich's naming felt akin to calling a river a great sea. It was delivered considerably later than fashionable late and as a result had become quite cold. The bread was not uniformly heated as some parts felt soft while some others hard. The flavor very much resembled a run of the mill chicken mayo sandwich that I have had in Monginis and smaller establishments.

While strictly not a fan of Margherita Pizza, this was a reasonably good pie with a nice thin base and an addicting type of savory flavor. The cheese was generously added and the pizza felt light and tasty.

Captain : This is tasty but could have used some meat.

Crewmate : It feels a bit barren Cappy, a few more veggies could have added more color.

Captain : A bit of meat would have added more fun.

Aglio e Olio Pasta was not a part of the event menu but somehow found way to our table. There is a difference between spaghetti and noodles. And I felt it tasted less like the former and more like an instant noodle mix. Needless to say, it didn't find any fans across the table as it left the table looking mostly the way it was served.

As the evening came to a close, we were served the dessert. Terra Chocolate Sizzler with Hot monk Todi felt and tasted like an average Sizzling brownie. For some reason the brownie felt a bit hard and crumbly despite being drenched in sauce. But what changed the perception of this fella from a loser to a winner was the addition of  "Hot Monk Todi". Akin to an ordinary Saiyan going super.

Served in shot glasses, this liquid paired excellently with the brownie. Perhaps their pairing was as good as Shashi Tharoor and Twitter. I am not entirely sure what the liquid was made out of and as usual Rahul offered his "main nahi bataoonga" smile. I felt that there was some cinnamon and clove in the formula, but that's all I could feel.

Crewmate : I love Sizzlin brownies Captain.

Captain : Well you can have mine too.

Crewmates : Really? They go so well with these Todi shots. 

Captain : What Todi shots? Wait? Were they served with a secret elixir, lad?

Crewmate : I will never tell.

The service in Terra could use work, lots of work. The servers were slow and ill informed. They had to be given several reminders on some of the things. And a lot of things arrived cold. It took them half an hour to get me a fresh plate as I used my hands till then to substitute the same in a MacGyver fashion.

Since this was a meet for Zomans, the tab was taken care of by Zomato and the house. The menu pricing suggests par pricing with most Restropubs in suburban Mumbai.

As I look at the experience, Terra had an amazing ambiance. The city view was fantastic and I loved the lighting work. There was a bit of a "rain water coming in" issue but that seemed more like an ironing issue that they can take immediate care of.

In jest, I'd say that the place though named Terra had a bit of the sky and water to it as well. The appetizers and drinks were amazing but the mains served felt like they needed more love. Would I visit again? Definitely - there is a lot on the menu to be tried so tis' Captain has marked the place on his map.

The Captain's Score : 7/10

"The weather is getting worse and the tavern's closing lads, we have no choice but to get back to the seas. All ya well fed mateys, on the sails immediately."

Map Co-Ordinates
Cafe Terra

Executive Enclave Hotel, Seventh Floor,  
Pali Hill, Bandra West,

-I was part of a colorful discourse over food organized by Zomato for the Zoman community. The grub was on the house. Special thanks go to Kaiarsh, Rahul and Zomato-