Sunday 29 May 2016

Opa! Bar & Cafe - Andheri Airport Road, Mumbai.

The sun shone brighter than before. It was so hot that most of the crew wanted to stay indoors. The lookout sat in his spot with an umbrella and sunglasses. We sailed in unfamiliar and unexplored territory. I wondered if our next mark would be the place where we finally find the blue compass. 

There was commotion on the deck as I took out me looking glass and studied the horizon. There was a sandy island up ahead. It also seemed to have a large town on it. Time to restock and sample the local taverns. As the ship neared the coast, we almost hit a local fishing boat. Opa!

Opa! which originally meant something on the lines of Oops in Greek is now often used in Greek celebrations or in high emotions. Opa! is a Middle eastern restaurant with some Greek and Turkish influences. Its located on the top of the Grand Peninsula hotel close to the Saki Naka Metro station. It could be difficult to find for the first timer, seek help from the hotel staff and thou shalt be fine.

Opa scores highly on its thematic ambiance. It feels like a true Middle Eastern restaurant. It is comparable to the stuff I saw in Dubai and the pictures of fine dine destinations in Lebanon and Morocco. The wall decor feels like the remnants of old Arabian palaces and the furniture feels very Moroccan. Combined with the summer sun in India, one is literally transported to the locales of the Middle East or North Africa. Opa has to be one of the finest roof top cafes in India. A true Arab Pavilion.

This also presents a problem. The summer heat can be rather harsh and Mumbai's humidity can sap the strongest man's strength. The small fans were mostly ineffective in offsetting the ambient heat. Its not impossible to tackle heat in an outdoor cafe. I do know of a certain other rooftop tavern that uses industrial grade coolers to keep its outdoors cool even in summers.

Opa! is quite well known for being a Hookah Bar as well. However, I don't smoke so I cannot describe well on that part. My friend however enjoyed the hookah facilities quite well. So I can claim that the Hookah is decent.

Opa scores high on food (mains and appetizers), mediocre on drinks and poorly on desserts. The ambiance, hookah and the food are the restaurant's strongest assets.

Opa's special Whiskey Sour. The color looked slightly atypical to that of the regular Whiskey sour. The drink was mildly potent. Its flavor was affected by the tremendous amount of ice put into it. It also felt too sweet. Due to the ice melting, the drink lost its flavor halfway through. The ice needs to be reduced to at least a third of what was put in.

The Cold Mezze platter was served with an assortment of dips like Baba Ghanoush, Hummus and labneh with various breads. This served as a nice appetizer, side and a filler in between courses. The dips felt authentic and set one right up for the other courses.

The Hot Mezze platter had an assortment of meat based appetizers like Adana Kebab, grilled chicken and Shish Taouk. There were also some greens and falafels. The meats were a passable fare save the Taouks which were juicy and delectable. I positively enjoyed the first platter more.

Chicken Sheefa is a popular dish in the middle east and surprisingly England. It usually has breads of various shapes stuffed with soft minced meat. Opa's variants resembled pots which were stuffed with an aromatic and savory stuffing. The stuffing was made of minced meat and various spices. The buns felt fresh, soft and slightly sweet and the stuffing was delectable. Though a Toum dip was provided with the platter, I found myself enjoying these buns on their own. To me, the sheefas were the perfect appetizers. The best in their class.

Captain : I like these hot buns.

Crewmate : Maybe we should focus on restocking. The prices here be cheaper than the last land.

Captain : Its still twice of what we paid outside this sea.

Crewmate : This is a desert island after all. No cultivation.

Captain : But the lowered prices indicate an island nearby with cultivation.

Arak Shrimps were made of pan tossed shrimps glazed with Arak. Rarely does one find the anise flavored Arak liquor in India. Its usually in the domain of five star hotels and big names. Opa brings it to the masses through its house specialty. The prawns tasted like everyday prawns sold at other places but the spicy and tangy flavoring made them delectable. The Arak added an unique twist which elevated a regular prawn dish to an elite prawn dish. A must if one loves sea food.

Chicken Bruschetta was made of grilled chicken on a focaccia toast. A bit of cheese was added on the top as well. A herb seasoning had probably been used somewhere too. The chicken was tangy, juicy and savory. This made a good antipasto though the chicken would easily get dislodged from the bread making it slightly annoying.

Time to move from the appetizers and side to the main like stuff.

Chicken Pide is a traditional Turkish flatbread that resembles a boat or a rugby ball. Pide is slowly making its moves and taking over from Pizza as the premier flatbread delicacy. Opa's variant had bright colors and flashy flavors. The chicken felt mixed and barbecued in flavor. The Rustic feel was in there. Pide uses butter instead of olive oil so it tends to be smoother in flavor. Opa's Pide was definitely the star among the mains.

Captain : This island has some nice delicacies. The world is bright and fun. Opa! :D

Crewmate : I like this Pizza.

Captain : This is not Pizza. This is Pida...Pide!

Crewmate : Pide, Lame Sparta wordplay :(

Vegetable Pita sliders were darlings in both visuals and flavors. These were made from mashed potatoes, cauliflower, Bell peppers and Jalapeno. The flavor was very snacky. The chef used pita bread instead of Burger buns making it some kind of a fusion food. This is something that can get over fast in the midst of a happy conversation.

Fish N Chips. This was beer battered Pomfret served with mushy peas and tartar sauce. The presence of this item on the menu was surprising since its British but I suppose the menu included a bit of diversity. The fish was disappointing since it felt a little too salty and crumbly within. The batter was too thick as well. I have definitely had better fish and chips.

Captain : Nina would you like some fish?

Nina : Nya :(

Captain : Oh you don't like the batter coating, eh? What if I remove it for you?

Nina : Nya :3

Crewmate : That Cat is the only creature you willingly share food with :(

Baked Umm Ali is an Egyptian bread pudding. Its supposed to have a solid bread pudding base and its appearance should be more of a semi solid than a bowl of gloop. Opa's variant did not feel authentic.

Sticky Toffee pudding was not as accurate as a traditional recipe goes. But the flavor was satisfactory. The pudding had more apricot than required mixed into the liquid below. This changed the flavor towards a tarty side. Minimal Toffee sauce was used on the sponge cake which sadly did not impart the typical toffee sauce flavor. The ice cream and the liquid salvaged the situation but otherwise I'd say that this was a pretty average dessert.

The service at Opa was great. The servers made sure that our tables always had fresh cutlery, water and the chef routinely inquired about the quality of the dishes.

The pricing seems slightly on the higher side as far as appetizers, drinks and desserts are concerned. Two of these three were off their mark on the day. The main's pricing felt at par or even lesser than other restaurants in town. And the mains (especially Pide) mostly won the day.

To sum it up, Opa! has more in its favor if you are looking for a good meal. The ambiance (especially at night) and the food make up a genuine Middle eastern/Turkish/Greek fare. The drinks need a bit of balancing and the desserts need rework.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

Captain : We don't need to buy too many things here. The port activity suggests that there are islands nearby.

Quartermaster : Just three days of stock. Your theory better be right.

Captain : Studying the wares sold in market, I suppose its an Island with a lush Bamboo forest.

First Mate : Ya know what? If you are right. I will do one week of deck sweeping but if you aren't, you will be doing the sweeping.

Captain : D:

Map Co-Ordinates
Opa! Bar and Cafe,
Hotel Peninsula Grand,Rooftop,
Opposite Sakinaka Metro Station,
Sakinaka, Mumbai

 -I was invited to sample the grub by the Restaurant's PR. My review however is objective.-

Opa! Bar & Cafe - The Peninsula Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday 27 May 2016

Lighthouse Cafe - Worli, Mumbai.

We sailed on the Sea of shipwrecks for the first time. Till now, it appeared calm just like any other day in the ocean. However, we had not seen land for quite some time. It was as if there was no land in this part of the world. But what of the legendary islands and the great taverns that were said to be located within this sea? Were their existence mere myths? Our ship was running dangerously low on rations. We just had two days of stock left. Perhaps, there was a deeper sense in why this sea is called a ship's graveyard. Sailors starve and die. Just then the lookout rang the bell frantically.

I took out me looking glass and saw where he was pointing at. There seemed to be a lighthouse in the distance. It stood on a small island. There was also a small village around the lighthouse. I almost jumped with joy as I directed me mates to set course for the Lighthouse. We could restock now.

This was my first trip to Lighthouse cafe, Worli but second trip for the brand. I had visited and enjoyed the burger festival at the Khar outlet a few months back. This time it was a Food and Wine festival.

The Worli outlet has about the same area as the one in Khar but it divides itself into two sections. A glass walled and air conditioned outer area faces the Worli roads and feels like a Al-Fresco. While the interior area feels like a bar or a lounge. The decor is a mix of contemporary and a bit of steampunk. The steampunk bit comes from the decor that resembles the inside of an old lighthouse like pressure gauges and industrial pipes. The lighthouse is a dim lit pub ideal for evenings.

Lets say that if the road outside is like a sea then this lighthouse directs hungry and thirsty sailors towards a satiating meal. Makes sense right?

(Menu provided by Restaurant's PR)
The festival sees nine different wines paired with the grub. The lighter and younger wines paired with the appetizers while the aged and more flavorful wines paired with the mains. It is truly a unique culinary experience which has a special food and drinks menu. Post 31st May, things will go back to normal and none of the items on this menu will be available.

I tried an appetizer, a main paired with its wine and a dessert.

Assorted Seafood was colorful and pleasant to the eyes. For those into Foodporn, a different version of this picture can be found on my Instagram. This dish had Prawns, Basa, Calamari and mussel marinated with white wine and Tarragon tossed in. The taste was almost perfect. It was a nice mix of Mediterranean and French themes.

There was but one problem with this, Basa isn't seafood. A sea fish would have worked wonders adding natural saltiness and an oceanic feel.

Captain : What? Potatoes for 200? That's four times more than what we paid elsewhere.

Grocer : Well, this ain't elsewhere. We don't grow stuff here. We buy it from passing traders. 

Captain : But reselling it at this price? You are robbing me.

Grocer : Rich words coming from a pirate.

Captain : Don't judge me from my get up lad, I am no pirate.

Stuffed Chicken with White Bolognese. This was a well done breast of chicken stuffed with a mix made of white Bolognese, different kinds of mushrooms and roasted vegetables. The insides tasted amazing and pampered the tongue. The exterior felt a bit too well done to me, though this was not any different from chicken breast mains served in other Mumbai restaurants. This problem was compensated by the wine which completed the experience.

Myra reserve cabernet sauvignon 2014 had a better flavor than the Sulas and other young wines. It provided just the right balance needed to overcome the harsh Chicken breast exterior of the above. I am no wine connoisseur but I can tell when two things taste well.

Cappuccino Cheesecake did not taste like a traditional cheesecake. It was too soft and creamy to be one. But it did seem to be made of cream cheese and was quite delectable. I was almost tempted to ask for another portion of this. The sweet cream cheese blended well with the Cappuccino making the dessert feel like a mix between a pudding, cheesecake and a Tiramisu. The base was made of Oreo crumbs rather than Graham crackers which gave the dish a very decadent feel.

Captain : This is so delightful, so heavenly. I could have one more of this.

Tavern Owner : That would be 400 for one, 800 for two. 

Captain : Wait, What? 

Quartermaster : Well done mate, you just set of our budget by 400. >:(

The service was very professional throughout most of the course. The serving staff looked well kept, spoke English and was polite. The only flaw was that they did not follow the wine serving protocol. I was not shown a bottle and the wine filled glass came directly from the bar. In a wine festival, it is important to follow the said protocol to maintain the theme of the event.

The pricing at LHC appears to be on the higher side. While the quality of the ingredients and the fine dine finish justify a large part of that, the prices could have been a little lesser - say about twenty percent lesser.

Between the two Light house Cafes, I would actually bat for the Worli outlet. It felt better in both crowds and ambiance. The Khar outlet was a favorite of college students while the Worli outlet seems to cater to the working professional crowd. It could simply be an age thing though ha.

Note : The Food and wine festival concludes on the 31st of May 2016.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

Captain : So the island was expensive but at least we are loaded for another week.

First mate : Here is hoping we find more islands inside this sea. Dying from hunger is the worst way to go.

Navigator : We can still turn back. One week of rations can take us back to start of this sea. Moving forward would be the point of no return.

Captain : Barnacles, we did not come this far to turn back. Open the sails and move at full speed ahead.

Map Co-Ordinates
Light House Cafe,
Ground Floor, Sunville Banquets,
Dr Annie Besant Road,
Worli, Mumbai.

 -I was invited to sample the festivals offerings and hence the meal was on the house. My review however is objective.-

Light House Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday 21 May 2016

1441 Pizzeria - Fort, Mumbai.

Storms, monsters, pirates - we faced them all but none perhaps was more terrifying then what lied ahead. The fabled sea of shipwrecks. It boasted of beautiful islands and legendary restaurants but all of that came at a price. Of every ten ships that would enter this sea, only one would successfully sail out. Me and the crew had a discussion late in the night. Yes, we all desired the blue compass but was it worth the risk? Just then the lookout rang the bell. 

We were passing a rather small isle with nothing but a single tavern on it. The island was the last piece of land before the dark dangerous sea. It was always better to discuss matters of such importance over food. Maybe we could get some useful information as well.

1441 Pizzeria at Fort is a new outlet of an already established brand. The restaurant feels like a small bistro and may sometimes resemble a quick serving restaurant. 1441 is named after the co-ordinates of the town of Naples that is 14 East and 41 North. 1441 boasts of being the only wood fired pizza place in Mumbai which lets people design their own pies. Its a true pizza parlor in that sense.

I was invited to a pre-launch meet by the restaurant's PR. The meet was attended by fellas who wrote on Zomato. Though, a little oversight saw far too many people being invited and crowding the little restaurant.  I was asked to shift a couple of times to make way for groups of "foodies". The joys of being a solo writer, ha. The staff for the most part was nice which was commendable given the chaos that had descended upon the room.

The restaurant had a lovely neighborhood cafe like appearance. The walls showed scenes from Naples and there was even a map of Italy. Had the place been less crowded that day, it would have actually been a nice little sanctuary from the busy road outside.

Dough Balls make a nice replacement to the overused garlic breads. Traditionally, these must have a smooth surface, golf ball like shape and soft texture within. 1441's variants were were tough, chewy and I was also unable to cut these with a knife and a fork. It is likely that I got a bad batch since a lot of folks seemed to enjoy these.

BBQ Chicken Pizza. Though 1441 brands itself as a pizzeria where one can design their own pizza from scratch, I was strangely recommended to try one of their pre-made combinations. Being privy to the horrors that can be unleashed by laymen in a kitchen, I decided to take their advice and play safe. Though not wanting to go home without testing the customization bit, I decided to add a few more toppings to the fixed design. No worries, I knew these combinations worked from experience.

I was a little saddened that pork options were missing from the menu. Parma ham and Chorizo make some great gourmet pizzas.

The pizza was very different from my expectations. This was not due to my additions, mind you. It was due to two factors.

A good napolitana pizza always has a leopard print base which was present here too but the base's appearance and flavor also signified a bit of overheating. The spots should never become too big because that can be a turn off to the rustic experience. Subtly charred should never become burnt.

The Mama's sauce used in the pizza resembled Pumpkin puree and was a bit a mismatch as far as flavors go. I would have preferred San Marzano tomato paste instead. I am told that they do offer an Italian tomato sauce, so thats for next time.

Thankfully, the sauce had not invaded the entire pie and was only present near the edges. The rest of the pizza was a satisfactory experience. Pesto chicken, herbed salami and spicy sausages made a delectable combination in flavors.

Captain : Rather small place eh?

Crewmate : There are a lot of sailors here. Are they all going to the sea of shipwrecks?

First mate : Unlikely. Think these be traders passing by these routes.

The Nutella Pizza has been a darling of instagrammers. There are so many images of it floating around from the first 1441 outlet that it definitely becomes an intriguing option for most people visiting the restaurant. But visible novelty aside, this pie was a major disappointment.

Taking a pizza base, spreading some nutella over it and tossing some toppings on it is easy. There has to be something more than mere optics for this dessert to work. For me, I would have been content if this dessert was sweet. That was my only requirement. The salty pizza base was the party pooper. It is not difficult to create sweetened dough and use that to make dessert pizza bases rather than using regular bases. Had the base been sweet, this dessert would have worked as a sweet dish. But for now it requires work.

I cannot comment on the service since I was part of a pre-opening meet. The servers were polite for the most part but they had their moments when they gave in to the chaos. One of the other invitees took my chair when I was standing up and looking the other way. The staff was completely helpless when I requested them to find me a replacement. Thankfully, I was spared as a few fellas were leaving and chairs became available after ten minutes of standing.

The pricing seems to be a mixed bag. Its apt for their starters, salads and classical pizzas. But on the higher side for their customs and gourmet pizzas. Though understandable since these pizzas use a lot more materials, the quality does need lot of improvement. This pricing is close to what places like Indigo or CPK charge and those places clearly have a superior pizza.

1441 has a nice concept but it clearly has a lot of work cut out for it.

The Captain's Score : 7/10

Captain : Time to set sail into what lies beyond this island.

Engineer : You make it sound scary. Not very helpful.

Captain : :D

Tavern Owner : Venturing out to the treacherous sea, are ya? Just remember two bells save the day and three send you away.

Captain : What is that supposed to mean?

Tavern Owner : Who knows? Heard it from some fella who made it out of that sea alive.


Map Co-Ordinates
1441 Pizzeria,
Ground Floor,
Hari Chambers, S B Road,
Fort, Mumbai

 -The meal was on the house but my review is objective.-

1441 Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday 6 May 2016

Farzi Cafe - Lower Parel, Mumbai

Me navigator laughed when I showed him my four co-ordinates. He said that we need not go to all four as only one of these lied on the map we found. I had completely forgotten about the map in my late night puzzle solving. The co ordinates pointed to a popular island in the Northern seas. I rang me ship's bell to wake up the crew. The half sails were opened fully. 

We were to move at full speed towards our destination. It was obviously to get to the Blue compass faster although my Engineer suspected that I had my eyes on yet another tavern. Well, she wasn't wrong ha. I stood with a foot on my ship's bow and let the ocean breeze kiss my face. I had a strange feeling that someone was watching me.

Farzi Cafe is the newest offering of Zorawar Kalra's "Massive Restaurants" group. It is the same brand that is behind Masala Library and Papaya. Farzi Cafe can best be described as a mix of a club, a tapas bar and a bistro in a modern debonair setting. Like Papaya, the mind boggling decor is done by Pronit Nath of Urban studio. This goes even a step beyond Papaya.

I was here on the occasion of a party organized by EazyDiner. A pre-launch party is always fun and lets one sample the grub and grog before anyone else.

If it is your first time and if you have any scientific curiosity then like me you will end up staring at that wall for a few minutes. This wall is specifically made to aid 3D mapping which seems to change with the music. The ambiance is dynamic and different lighting creates different scenes and emotions. Combined with the loud music and molecular cocktails, its a world of creative chaos. Chaos can be good and desirable sometimes. Every moment in Farzi is unique which will never repeat again.

Farzi means fake in Hindi but its fine usage can also extend to illusions or mirages. Farzi cafe is named on that notion. The ambiance with its 3D mapping and the food prepared with molecular gastronomy creates rather tempting illusions that will make one's senses dance to the waves.

Farzi defines itself as a Modern Indian Bistro but its much more than that.

The service was professional for the most part though I did run into a server who made me wait ages before he got my drink.Why did I come to service before food? Its because each server had a unique and a stylish hairdo. One cannot help but notice this.

The food and cocktails were typical of Massive group's love for Molecular gastronomy. It fuses western dishes with Indian techniques or vice versa using molecular gastronomy. Its not simply adapting dishes to Indian palates but to completely re-invent them.

Farzi Apple Foamintini had an amazing presentation. Its made out of green apple syrup, martini ingredients, mint and a foam made out of whip cream. When served, the dry ice beneath the martini cup shouts out jets of vapor in all directions. The flavor is a mix of bitter, sweet and tangy with a vanilla like undertone. The drink is mildly potent and quite seductive to the tongue. To me, this was the best of Farzi's queerly named cocktails. In fact, this will be my drink every time I go to any Farzi installations in the future.

Captain : I love this drink even though it has no rum. Yum.

Nina : Nya Nya ? >:3 

Captain : Eh, why are you here? Where did the mates go? Don't tell me that they slithered away to other taverns.

Three Muskeetear was another delectable bitter sweet drink though the shaved ice sphere felt like a turn off to me. It made a great visual effect but deteriorated the drinking experience. This drink was made of Chili, orange and Hersheys chocolate syrup mixed in whiskey. The flavor felt sweet and subtly bitter. The drink was more potent than the foamintini. I loved the flavor but the sphere should either have been smaller or not have been there at all.

Captain : I wonder if there is a clue hidden inside the ice sphere. (Bites)

Captain : Ok not, Brain freeze.

Nina : Nyayayaya >:3

The Delhi Belly Pork tikka was pork belly marinated in Indian herbs and covered with a glaze made out of murabba (fruit preserve). The skin felt a little tough but beneath it was a succulent and one of the best pork bellies that I have ever had. It literally melts in the mouth. While the outer skin was sweet the inner portion was salty and fatty. A must eat if you are a carnivore and this pairs with all cocktails.

Captain : Oooh this melts in me mouth. I want more... Hey! Nina.

Nina : Nya Nya :3 (steals pork belly tikkas and runs away)

Captain : Darn it, you cute little thief. You are the only one who steals from me and gets away with it.

Tempura Fried Prawns with spiced lemon foam tasted like a fusion of Japanese deep fried prawns and Mumbai street food. Though I am not fond of foam on my food(Don't ask why), the taste here was simply divine. The foam ensures that the flavors do not interfere with each other. Any other method will cause the flavors to mix and result into something unpalatable.

The Farzified Vada Pao was a delectable little potato dumpling. This dumpling was made out of finely minced potato and the flavor had permeated evenly to every part of this dumpling. This was a more sophisticated and a perfected form of Mumbai's favorite snack. The only flaw was that the Paos were absent on the scene.

Amritsari Fish and Chips with Desi ghee Hollandaise was a dish comprised of deep fried fish cutlets served with a Hollandaise dip that used Indian clarified butter(ghee) instead of regular butter. This was a passable affair as I felt that the cutlets were a little too hard for my liking. Too much batter and too little fish.

Gupta Burger was a delectable deep fried potato patty mixed with spices and served in mini buns. So it was more like a Gupta slider. This was supposed to be an emulation of street burgers sold in Delhi by the same name. Though I have never had its namesake, I can positively attest that this was a good bar nibble.

Smoked Bacon and Pyaaz ki Kachori was a fusion of rustic, smokey bacon with an onion dumpling and served with a reduction of potato jus(Rassa). This was a good novelty even though it appeared more like a stacked appetizer rather than a truly fused food.

The Galouti Burger was made of finely minced lamb meat. The meat was so soft that even a toothless person could eat it. The minced meat was placed inside a soft burger and tasted like a very flavorsome meat bun. It reminded me of my trip to Hong Kong and the meat buns there. A good eat if you want plain good food without theatrics.
Dal Chawal Arancini - Italian arancini balls given an Indian vegetarian twist. These were filled with a stuffing made of rice, lentils, peas and greens. And were topped with a poppadom roll and served with pickle and chutney. Delectable little flavor bombs.

FFC or Farzi Fried Chicken is a play on KFC. One is served a truckload of these drumsticks though the truck is a miniature model ha. The chicken felt a little uninspired, tough and try. This was perhaps the only thing that disappointed me completely. The smoked BBQ cream dip did not help much.

Mishti Doi grapes - Continuing Massive group's love for playing with Mishti Doi (Remember the lollipops at Masala Library) were these grapes made using molecular gastronomy. These grapes would explode in the mouth releasing a sweet flavor of the Mishti Doi. Serves as a good palate cleanser between courses.

Bailey's pops were mini desserts made of Irish cream. These would dissolve fast in the mouth suggesting that these were made using Liquid Nitrogen. Decent dessert but gets over too fast. I would rather have a cup with a few of these balls than a pop. Farzi has more dessert options but this was the only one that I could sample that night.

Captain : A single pop is not sufficient dessert fer me :( 
(walks out)

First Mate : Oye, follow me mate. We found something interesting from the roof tops.

Captain : What are you fellas doing on the roof tops?

First mate : We just fought off rogues mate. Thought it would be wise to go to the tallest structure and inspect for any other trouble heading in our direction.

Farzi's pricing will be along the lines of Papaya. It will be on the higher side but given the exceptional quality of some dishes and the unique ambiance, the price is well worth the buck.

Farzi Cafe has been a big hit in Gurgaon, winning many awards. It has now arrived and brought a bit of Delhi's social scene to Mumbai. Masala Library and Papaya are already hits with the eat out crowd. Will Farzi complete Massive's hat trick? Lets find out. Farzi Cafe opens to the public on the first week end of May, 2016.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

Captain(on the roof top of a skyscraper) : (Sees a board with "Glutton" written on it) 
What is this?

First Mate : (Pulls out a dagger) For the Crew.  (Stabs Captain)

Captain(Shocked but sees that he is unhurt) : You are pulling a Jon Snow on me?

First Mate : Just messing. Cardboard Knives ha.

Captain (awkward silence) : Ok, so why the hell did ya call me up here?

Gunner : Look at the lights below.

Captain : They collectively seem to form a funny shape. Why?

Navigator : Look at the map. That funny shape is marked here.  

Captain(Brief stern silence) : Hmm. This region...Its the Sea of Shipwrecks.

Map Co-Ordinates
Kamla Mills,
Near Radio Mirchi Office,
Lower Parel, Mumbai

 -I was invited by Eazydiner to a pre-launch party. I was not expected to write a blogpost and this post is from my own free will and written with objectivity. -

Farzi Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Kook - Chembur, Mumbai

They had us cornered and were ready to get rid of us. Or at least that is what they thought. 

Captain : Don't say that I did not give you a chance to walk away. (Loudly Whistles)

Rogue Captain Peter : What the...

(Captain's Crew surrounds the alley. Double ambushed.)
First mate : Thought you had us fooled mate? Think again.

Rocky : Why you...(Raises rifle to fire)

Gunner : Oye Oye, drop your weapon or you will lose your head...literally.

Narakdu(Raising hands) : Does this mean I don't get paid Boss:( ?

We had our fun disposing off the rogues. Many challenges still await us as the quest for the Blue compass only gets tougher. For now, we set sail to a nearby industrial island for repairs and eating...uh information gathering.

Chembur is a district that I have never been to so far. Its far and too industrial. So I was very skeptical about going to Kook when I received an invitation by the owner. The owner decided to take care of my biggest peeve - traveling and thus I dived into the unknown. Kook is a small eatery which specializes in catering but has recently opened up a fully functional dine in restaurant. The restaurant is composed of a small Al-fresco which faces the road and an air conditioned dine in area which is somewhat underground.

Despite being small, the area has been effectively used and has its own theme and decor to go along with it. The ambiance may not be the best but feels comfortable. I was worried that I may feel claustrophobic (I have an issue with small places) but thankfully that problem did not exist here. And if the comfortable dine in wasn't enough, there are even large screens to display IPL, EPL or whatever that dominates prime time.

The Kook special was a fruity virgin concoction with peach, cranberry and apple juices. It was fizzy and slightly spicy which came from the addition of cinnamon and 7 up. A simple but effective mix to beat the heat.

Butter Garlic Prawns were smooth, slippery and quite flavorsome. The butter garlic garnish had imbued a perfect blend of salty and savory flavors upon the prawns. Each bite was full of juicy flavor. The prawns tasted very fresh and the preparation felt very inspiring. If one loves sea food then this is a must try.

Captain :  Smooth and tasty. I love seafood.

First Mate : I wonder if the sharks liked the land food when we tossed Narakdu to them.

Captain : Depends on whether the sharks like junk food.

Baida Paratha(bread stuffed with egg and/or minced meat) is a tricky creation. A slight miscalculation can give a hard chewy dough and there always is a chance of the stuffing tasting bad due to the way its minced. Even big names falter on Baida parathas many times. Thankfully, Kook had no such issue. Despite becoming cold from all the delay due to food photography, the dough remained soft. The minced meat tasted genuine and savory. I actually regret not going for seconds on this. It was quite a journey for my mouth traversing the depths of this delectable creation.

Veg Thai Roll looked pretty to the camera. This pastry roll was filled with a soft stuffing of minced greens and kaffir lime. The first bite put me on a high with the subtle flavor of kaffir lime driving my taste buds to cloud nine. The minced vegetables were clearly a masterstroke. There were no obstructive large chunks of vegetables to spoil the day. A good option if one wants a vegetarian entree.

Captain : The lone roll on the plate reminds me of someone.

Gunner : Rocky? After you marooned him on an island with a pistol and a single bullet? 

Captain : Nah, I replaced the gun with a water pistol.

Gunner : You are such a troll.

Tawa Mutton Chops was a colorful dish that reminded me of Autumn in temperate destinations. Reds, browns, greens with a little yellow - ah, this was almost an edible painting. Shame my camera could not see what my eyes did. The flavor was very North Indian - moderately spicy and very Punjabi with a bit of grease. Kook manages to successfully juggle multiple cuisines in limited infrastructure. This is quite commendable.

The Asian Trio - From Top in clockwise order

Chili Garlic noodles was the only dismal preparation in the entire eating experience. These felt very flat and uninspired.

The chicken in oyster sauce was a mix of tangy, pungent and savory flavors which made it quite a lip smacking dish. It tasted well with the Thai Pot rice.

Thai Pot Rice was the best eat of the day. It was a good emulation of the original Thai delicacy in flavor. It may need a bit of work as far as the visuals are concerned though. It was Zohan grade silky smooth due to the cornstarch adding a soft touch. It almost felt like an Asian Risotto. I would recommend this for roughage to go along with the meat or stews.

Captain : The rice is so amazing. I wonder how our friend Peter is doing...on the other side.

First mate : Don't think that he is coming back from Davey Jones locker anytime soon. 

Captain : No one steals from the Captain, No one.

First Mate :  Now to solve the mystery of the fool's co-ordinates.

The desserts at Kook felt very average. The eggless variants tend to disappoint any true dessert connoisseur. But I suppose the vegetarian variants are targeted at the broader Indian audience.

The Blueberry cheesecake was a no bake variant made of cream rather than cream cheese. It tasted very similar to the conveyor belt variant offered at Monginis or Birdys. I prefer my cheesecakes to contain eggs, Philadelphia cream cheese and be baked.

The Red velvet cake was much better and clearly a better eat. Though it too suffered from the lack of genuine ingredients. Cream cheese or mascarpone should replace the whip cream. The cake itself was quite good for an eggless variant.

Kooks Pricing tends to be on par with most mainstream North Indian restaurants. The appetizers may feel a bit pricey though.

I will leave out service since the restaurant has just opened and this was a meal on an invitation.

Kook in conclusion kooks up a real meal with real value for money. I wouldn't advocate it as the best or soul stirring and the like. But it serves up a good meal which is the only thing that matters at the end of the day. Its location can be a hassle for folks on the western side but if you cannot travel, try ordering a hot meal from the place.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

 (Late night in the middle of the sea, most of the crew is asleep. Captain is awake in his cabin and his table lamp illuminates the room. The sounds of the sea are the only things to give him company. That and the half asleep look out and Coffee drinking navigator)

Captain : That old man did not look like a liar but why would he give me bogus co ordinates?

Captain : Wait a minute. (Multiplies the three digits of each ordinate 352, 258) Three by five by two gives thirty and Two by five by eight gives eighty. These look like valid co ordinates, YES. But hey is it North or South. East or West. Four possibilities. Urgh.

Map Co-Ordinates
Swami Jayramadas Shopping Centre,
R.C marg, Near Basant Park,
Chembur East, Mumbai

 -The meal was on the house as I was invited by the owners. My review however is objective.-

Kook Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato