Wednesday 29 June 2016

Barbeque Nation - Hill Road, Bandra West, Mumbai.

Nina seemed to be quite adventurous. She moved around this strange town as if she knew the place. We followed her to some rather strange spots. First she led us to a place where the streams from the two gigantic waterfalls met. This place had a lot of good fish and was full of fishermen. Then she took us to a place with strange mountains which descended below the geode town. It was here where the upward cave passages existed. These mountains were like a chimney to the geode. But why did she bring us here? Suddenly there was a loud rumbling sound, the geode cavity was closing. Barnacles.

Iftar is the evening meal with which Muslims break their Ramadan fast. This meal like other festival themed meals is quite special and unique. While I am not Muslim or religious for that matter, it is certainly fun to try special meals. And where else but Barbeque nation. The place with its live grills and kebab traditions is one of the best places to serve an Iftar meal. The meal may not be identical to an Iftar experience in the Middle East but it certainly works well in India.

The ambiance is not much to talk about. It is a classical family restaurant which somewhat resembles their Marol outlet though feels a bit smaller. The furniture is very comfortable as with all BBQN outlets.

Not much different from the usual fare at BBQN, the stars were the Kebab starters and the desserts. The mains were a bit mediocre but one doesn't go for mains to BBQN. The buffet can be variable in cost depending on the day and time. On the day I went, the non vegetarian buffet cost INR 884. The spread was decent especially the desserts.

Caribbean Jerk stuffed chicken drumstick(Top) was full of flavor and the meat was cooked particularly well. It wasn't off the bone well but the meat was succulent with an explosion of flavors. While the primary flavor was of the Jerk spice mix, there was a strong Indian spice presence as well.

Fish Butter Kebab (Bottom Right) was a soft and buttery kebab that felt like a mix of egg and meat from the flavor. The flavoring here was subtle so those who prefer strong tastes could use one of the dips provided.

Mutton Khada Masala Seekh(Bottom Left) was a flavorful seekh kebab with a good aroma and many flavors. The meat was not dry suggesting hand work instead of machine work for mincing the meat. I quite enjoyed the flavor as I haven't had a decent seekh kebab in quite a while.

Captain : Nina could not possibly have known that the Geode was closing. 

Engineer : Cats do have a sixth sense.

Captain : But how did she know where these passages were?

Nina : >;3 Nya

The live grill Kebabs were a mix of hits and misses. The Thai Prawn Kebab(Extreme Left) for example was juicy and full of flavors though felt a bit strange on an Iftar menu.

The Tandoori Chicken(Center) felt very much like the classical kebabs that I have had all my life. The meat was soft but one must take care to keep rotating the skewer so it doesn't overheat.

The non Iftar menu regulars were a bit insipid in experience especially the other prawn kebab(third from left). The mushroom kebabs felt ok to me but could have been better judging from my previous BBQN experiences. Cajun Potatoes was as always the best vegetarian Kebab.

Chicken Wings was an item that wasn't intended to be a part of the Iftar meal but I was requested by the chef to try it. I do not remember experiencing it in my earlier BBQN trips so I loved sampling it. The meat was juicy and had the traditional Chicken wing flavor that I love so much. The meat was a bit lean on the bone though. More bone and less meat so perhaps that is one thing that can be looked into.

Mutton Chaap had an atypical variance here. The flavor was good but it tasted close to the Punjabi homemade mutton curry. It is not something that I expect from a Rib dish.

Captain : This passage has lights at distances to illuminate the path.

Crewmate : Seems these are as well used as the townsman claimed.

Captain : We should follow the lighted passage then, no detours unless we want to get lost.

Engineer : Your Cat didn't get that instruction. (Giggles)

The mains were mostly a mediocre affair. I will just discuss the Haleem here since its unique to Iftaar. Haleem is a stew made of lentils and minced meat. BBQNS version was accurate in colors, paste like consistency and even its flavor was great. But there was too little meat in the stew. The stew tasted mostly like a lavish dal rather than having the minced meat expected to be in it.

Bandra's BBQN takes pride in itself as the only BBQN with a live wok/subway like counter where patrons can design their own dishes. One can basically select the meats, greens, sauces and leave the chef to whip something out of them. I chose squid rings, lamb, onions and BBQ sauce to create a flavorful dish full of sweet and spicy flavors. I was afraid that I would mess it up but hey the chef did his magic in there.

As always BBQN has a great dessert counter. The goodies may look simple but taste amazing.

Mango Sasil was a mango mousse like dessert with a soft creamy yellow layer with a cake like layer bellow. This pastry tasted amazing. Mexican Maple almond pie was pretty amazing too. Sweet and containing almond meal - this was a simple looking dessert with crisp and fun flavor.

Captain : Nina, you will get us lost. Here kitty kitty.

Crewmate : Should we follow the Captain?

Quartermaster : What choice do we have?

Engineer : Where is your spirit of adventure boys?

One cannot conclude a trip to BBQN without their trademark do it yourself Kulfis. The kulfi counter is usually popular, filled with people who super size their kulfis with a ton of sweet ingredients. For me it was Fig Kulfi, caramel sauce, white chocolate chips and some fennel candy to get a great picture.

The service was acceptable though could have been better. The servers weren't sure whether drinks were a part of the special menu or not and there seemed to be some confusion over what goes into what kebabs. The chef had to assist us with that.

The pricing is fine as far as an unlimited buffet goes which includes unlimited desserts and kulfis ha. Some of the Kebabs are only unique to the Iftar menu and one can enjoy these till the 6th of July, 2016.

I have been to three different BBQN outlets so far and as always their best part is always the meal experience. The buffet always feels well worth the moolah spent. So if you want to sample some Iftaar delicacies, head straight to Barbeque Nation. Do hurry as the experience won't be back for another year post 6th of July.

The Captain's Score : 8/10

Captain : Good thing I carried a flashlight. These side passages are dark.

Engineer : Hope we are not gonna run into trouble.

Quartermaster : Oye, seems like a dead end ahead. We can turn back then.

Captain : Why is Nina clawing on the wall? Is something there?

Quartermaster(Sighs) : I guess we are about to find out.

Captain : Hey there seems to be something on the wall. A Button? (pushes)

(Cave wall starts moving)

Engineer : A secret passage within a passage?

Map Co-Ordinates
Barbeque Nation
355, Ground Floor,
Ramdas Nayak Road,
Hill Road, Bandra West

-I was invited to sample the Iftar menu by the Restaurant's PR. My review however remains objective.-

Barbeque Nation Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Yauatcha - Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai.

This strange town was divided into four parts by the massive water canals formed by the falling seawater from above. The place usually traded in undersea products. I then spotted Nina running towards a local restaurant. Good girl. I was quite hungry too.

Yauatcha is a Michelin starred dim sum teahouse in London. The brand also operates in Indian metros though we seem to be a few years away from the Michelin star system. That doesn't stop Yauatcha from being one of the best Chinese restaurants in India and probably the finest for steamed dumplings.

Yauatcha is celebrating the annual Dragon boat festival till the 31st of June, 2016. I was invited by the restaurant's PR to sample the event menu which included six Zongzi dumplings, a cocktail and a dessert. All of these items are exclusive to this event only. So hey, it was too attractive an event to not go to.

Yauatcha like its sister concern Hakkasan uses modern Asian themes and elegant decor to provide a comforting environment. The crowd is much more refined as well and one can truly enjoy a good meal in peace. There are no pretentious Asian motifs and there is an air of elegance in the place. The place looks rather beautiful especially at night with the dim golden lighting. It somehow imparts a feeling of being in a resort restaurant rather than a place in the middle of maximum city.

The Menu for the event.

Citrus spritz was a well presented drink with a fizzy and citric flavor. This was a mix made of Belvedere Vodka, dry Vermouth, Chandon brut and lime. It was highly potent but its potency was not immediately felt. Its effects felt stronger as time passed and this was a proper celebration cocktail.

Next up were the Zongzi dumplings. These are conical shaped dumplings that originated from Northern China. The dumplings are usually wrapped with bamboo leaves and a variety of other leaves.

Yauatcha used Lotus leaves. Different leaves endow different flavors and aromas on the dumplings. The dumplings had a bit of meat inside glutinous or sticky rice. Wrapping Zongzi is a skill that is usually passed down in Chinese families. One can only imagine the training the chefs had to undergo before presenting Zongzi to their patrons.

Though the dumplings had a northern shape but the fillings were savory which is more common in the southern parts of China. So one can say that in essence the dumplings represented all of China.

Wrapped Zongzi - A perfect cone. All the dumplings essentially look the same so the only way to distinguish different flavors was the colored threads. This dumpling contains pork and its represented by the radiant red string.

Opened Dumpling - The rice was sticky and savory. It sealed the freshness and the aromas of the dumpling inside.

I managed to sample five of the six dumplings available on the menu.

Edamame and Vegetarian duck dumpling. This contained faux duck meat made from soya which felt very close to the real thing. Yauatcha is well known for their vegetarian meats. The fine edamame complemented the faux meat well. It had a savory flavor with undertones of garden vegetables.

Chicken Dumpling - The classical chicken filling in a Zongzi shell was a new experience. I can say that sticky rice works better than batter cased dumplings. The flavor of the sticky rice and the chicken concert well together.

Chicken and Prawn dumpling felt slightly disappointing as compared to the rest of the platter. The flavor felt a little weak for seafood but I suppose the primary problem with this dumpling were lower portions of meats as opposed to the rice.

Pork Belly and Shiitake Mushroom was the best of the five that I tasted. It had succulent savory pork belly with a moderate amount of minced shiitake. The flavor was dominated by the pork. The flavor would really excite those who love savory food. I took seconds and thirds for this.

Captain : Nina, would you like some pork ?

Nina : Nya :3

Captain : Atta girl.

Quartermaster : You never share food with us mate. 

Pine nuts and Lamb had a very flavorful filling. The lamb would just melt in the mouth, though this too had an issue with ratios between rice and the meat filling.

Despite being made of rice, I think the dumplings felt light. One could easily have a full platter of six by themselves ha.

The meal ended with Wine soaked water chestnut and Mango cake. This was another one of Yauatcha's sweet masterpieces. It was served with a quenelle of frozen Sauvignon sorbet. The dessert had a unique flavor. The core of the cake was made of mousse like chocolate and mango bits whilst the exterior was made of a water chestnut flavored creamy shell. The sorbet and the cake came together to create an amazing alchemy. The dessert had a pleasant aroma and a great flavor. Shame it isn't available throughout the year.

Captain : Grog flavored dessert? I like this.

Quartermaster : So you can get high while you are high.

Engineer : That sounds like a meme. 

Captain : What is a meme?

Yauatcha had excellent service. The servers were professional, spoke good English and put up nice pleasant faces. They also accommodated the bloggers who were constantly moving food from one place to another.

The pricing seems to be well suited for the deal. It is slightly on the higher side but one cannot find this food beyond 31st June in India. The chefs were specially trained and many of the the ingredients had to be flown in.

This was my first trip to Yauatcha and I really enjoyed the rare Asian niche that they cater too. I think all elements fell in place and the restaurant is a worthy mark for all food lovers. I would certainly like to sample the grub they offer in their future events as well.

 The Captain's Score : 8/10

Our meal done, we decided to further explore the place. With night falling in, the city's lighting system looked incredibly surreal. It was like a scene from a dream or a colorful comic. Who knew that such a place existed?

Map Co-Ordinates
Raheja Towers,
Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai

-I was invited to be a part of the event by the Restaurant's PR. My review however remains objective.-


Tuesday 14 June 2016

Gaylord - Churchgate, Mumbai.

The deep chasm in the sea could hide an entire world below. How can one not go down and explore things? It was very risky of course. If the crack were to close above us, we will be trapped in there. Much against the crew's wishes, a few of us decided to go down there. Firsty decided to stay up and assume command if we were to get stuck down there. 

Nina decided to come along as well. Nina has been lucky for us so far. With a rope, we descended down the colossal waterfall that went deep into the chasm. Another surprise awaited us down here.

Gaylord is an iconic restaurant that has stood near the sea at Churchgate since 1956. The world around it has changed but yet it still stands there, popular as ever. Men and women have eaten here followed by their children and their children's children. The restaurant has seen struggling artists who later became big producers and directors. It has seen luminaries and much more. I have myself been to Gaylord a few times in the past and the place continues to awe me.

The only thing that has changed in all these decades has been the decor and the menu. But yet the restaurant retains its old world charm. Gaylord which is derived from French Gaillard means high spirited and boisterous. That is true in some sense since the restaurant does instill its patrons with high spirits.

The restaurant decor feels like a mix of Royal Indian and Victorian. It has inspired many restaurants who have unsuccessfully tried to emulate its interiors. The restaurant has both an indoor dining and an al fresco exterior. The exterior area though can be a bit harsh in the summers. One can host their wedding party here, a corporate dinner or just have a fun time with old friends. The place seems to suit all occasions. I was here as part of a blogger's table to witness the launch of a new Menu by the restaurant's executive chef, Zaheer. Do note that Gaylord has a very large and diverse menu, what I sampled was but a small part of the menu.

Bartenders Special Cocktail. The summers are chaotic and one could always use a pacifying drink. I started with this drink which was a customized cocktail made of gin and vodka. It had a strong kick and citric notes. It resembled the mojito a lot and could have done with lesser leaves but it had a great flavor and a potent kick.

Kulhar ki Tangdi were chicken drumsticks served in faux mini earthen pots. This was a neat way of presenting Tangdi kebabs, I assume we will see copycat versions in other restaurants soon. The flavor of tandoori barbecue was strong in these and the taste was very rustic. Combined with the minty chutney at the bottom of the pot and soaked onions, these provided a great kebab experience.

Chaamp Taajdar are classical North Indian Mutton ribs. Gaylord's version was marinated in a mix made of yoghurt and Indian spices. Those flavors could be felt in every bite. There was plenty of meat on the ribs which came right off the bone. The smoky flavor combined with the smoothness from the yoghurt and the explosion of spices made the Taajdar a treat for the tongue.

Captain : What is this? A town at the bottom of the pit in the middle of the sea?

Quartermaster : I am as amazed as you are. 

Captain : How the hell do they even live in here? Doesn't this place go underwater when the chasm closes?

Townsman(eavesdrops) : You fellows seem to have descended down for the first time. Look above you.

Dahi Cheese Rolls were vegetarian kebabs which oozed a cheesy curdy flavor. These kebabs were a mix of savory and tangy. It was something that was bound to leave one smacking their lips. These also had a pleasant aroma and were well presented.

Kulfi Ke Kebab used an atypical spice mix which may not please the palates of some. I am aware of this flavor as I have had it before. The chutney and pickle mixture was made of onion and strong spices and these flavors were very sharp. This is not to say that this flavor is bad but I am one of those who is not particularly fond of it.

Captain : The sky is made of...Geode?

Townsman : That's right, the entire town is inside a gigantic geode. When the chasm above closes, the geode's two halves seal tight blocking the water out completely.

Captain : How do you get air?

Townsman : We get enough for a month when the chasm opens up.

Lasooni Fish Tikka was made of Surmai or King Mackerel. There is something truly magical about sea fish being cooked with Indian spices. These barbecued fish kebabs had a garlicky spicy flavor down to the very core of the morsel and these were seasoned with coriander and other spices on the crispy crust. One of the highlights of the appetizers section, I would recommend these to the reader.

Prawn and Bell Pepper Salad was made of fresh prawns, salad dressings, eggs, olives and a lot of mayonnaise. The salad was really tasty but I suppose the excess Mayo takes away the healthy element. The salad makes a nice accompaniment to the mains.

The Cooker ka Kukkad had a very homemade flavor but unlike its name which sounded Punjabi, the flavor felt closer to chicken made in homes in Uttar Pradesh. The flavor was rustic and comforting. Nothing fancy other than its plating method. It was served in a little red cooker.

Captain : I do not get it, where does the ocean's water go to then? Should the town not flood when the Geode opens up. 

Townsman : It takes the outward currents back to the ocean. The sea water constantly leaves as it enters and hence does not flood. At most portions of our town are hidden by curtains of gigantic waterfalls.

Captain : This is beyond comprehension.

Engineer : I agree but lets leave that for a novel length book.

Mutton Dum Biryani was made using the traditional Awadhi style. The flavor was packed and enhanced by the use of a roti seal on top of the pot. The meat was tender and succulent. The rice was aromatic and delectable. This was the kind of Biryani one serves to impress their guests. Tough deal? Serve the client Dum Biryani. Opposition parties disagreeing on a bill? Serve them Dum Biryani. Girlfriend playing hard to get? Serve her Dum Biryani.

Hanky Shanky Korma chicken. Its queer naming aside, this tasted much like the delectable Chicken Amritsari Tariwala made in most North Indian homes. It had a soul pleasing tomato based curry with a delectable and strong aroma. Like most home cooked dishes, it evoked a feeling of simplicity and peace. Best enjoyed with Butter Naan or the humble Chapati.

Khumani Ka Meetha (Apricot's sweetness) is also known as Qubani Ka meetha in Hyderabad. This was a variant of the famed Hyderabadi dessert. It was made of moderately aged and dried apricots, other dry fruits and a treasure trove of sweet spices. Sugar, Spice and everything nice may not give the Powerpuff girls but would surely give a good Khumani ka Meetha. A nice all-Indian dessert for the summers, this makes a tongue pleasing end to a lavish meal.

The service was very professional and the older servers seemed to have the experience of time to their side. Chef Zaheer himself visited the table to take feedback on the dishes. I also met Mr. AN Malhotra, the 87 year old CEO of the restaurant who is said to visit the restaurant every day.

The pricing seems apt for the quality and the restaurant's location. It may feel on the higher side but the food and the experience is guaranteed to be worth the moolah.

This isn't my first trip and would certainly not be my last trip to Gaylord. I would hope to continue visiting it in the future till if I have sampled everything from the menu. If one is in Mumbai and loves good food then Gaylord is definitely one of the places that one must visit.

 The Captain's Score : 9/10

Captain : We should leave before the Geode closes up. Its probably due to some weird seismic activity or sea magic.

Townsman : Don't worry. Even if the ceiling closes, we have a network of cave passages that lead us to the surface island. We actively trade with the people above.

Captain : That explains a lot of things. Hey where did Nina go?

Map Co-Ordinates
Mayfair Building,
VN Road,
Churchgate, Mumbai

-I was invited to be a part of the event by the Restaurant's PR. My review however remains objective.-

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

Monday 13 June 2016

Clash of the Italian Chefs, Mezzo Mezzo at THE JW Marriott - Juhu, Mumbai

We continued exploring the mysterious ship. The town authorities would soon remove the wreck and we had only a little time before the local salvagers would pounce upon the ship. It was difficult exploring the structure since most of the ship had been destroyed and it lay on its starboard side on the ground. We had almost given up on finding anything useful when we came upon a fully metal door which refused to budge. It was as if the ship's former crew wanted to hide something behind that door. The quartermaster got a blow torch and started his thing on the door.

This is a time when several Italian eateries are mushrooming across the city. The menu is the same everywhere - Pizza adapted for Indians, Risotto, Pasta and some mains. But are these places truly Italian in spirit? That is the question. Mezzo Mezzo (MM) is like Italian royalty which stands high above the plebeian eateries we have grown accustomed to. This is not because MM sits inside the much acclaimed JW Marriott. It is because MM has Italian Chefs and refuses to change recipes to suit certain people. It serves Italian food as it is meant to be.

I opened up my inbox last week to find a strangely captioned Email. "Battle of the Italian Chefs." it said. The mail talked about a multiple course meal prepared by three different Italian chefs who will also indulge in a friendly contest against each other for the title of the chef with the best dish. I have been many things, but never a cooking contest judge. Intrigued as I was, I accepted the invitation and waited for the day to come.

Mezzo Mezzo has an ambiance which talks of old world elegance. It is not flashy like the new generation restaurants but the ambiance and air speaks of a class above others. Simple, elegant and yet classy. The wooden feel is typical of older generation fine dines and it actually feels very similar to Marriott's atrium and lobby in decor. The place is really comfortable, a paragon of how fine dining should be.

There were three chefs serving the table today. The blogger's table as well as the regular patrons of the restaurant had to vote for the dish they found best. While the cook off was for June 4 only, the fine dine set course experience is still available everyday.

Let the Battle begin . Chef Matteo Arvonio vs Chef Marouane Rahali vs Chef Christian Huber. Ting Ting Ting.

The menu. This was a five course meal with each course done by a different chef. Some chefs did more than one course.

To keep things coherent, I will use English names wherever necessary. One can find the Italian names on the menu itself. Before the courses started, the resident sommelier gave us a quick run through of the wines paired with each of the courses. He gave a detailed explanation of why each wine was paired with the course. I think he would make a fine food blogger himself.

The first course was the Antipasto by Chef Marouane. It was a leafy salad made of Arugula, Asparagus, smoked duck breast, quail eggs and mango. The freshness of the ingredients was clearly visible. The leafy flavors dominated the salad with support from the savory meat and a sweet twist from the Mango. Despite Mango not being Italian in essence, it had inherited the Italian flavors perfectly and had become a member of the family. T'was definitely one of the best salads I have ever had.

The paired wine was Villa Antinori Bianco. This straw color wine had a very spring like flavor to it  It was quite aromatic as well. Its flavor concerted well with the subtle flavors of the salad. The whole experience was like having a meal in the Italian countryside during spring with a babbling brook nearby.

Second course - Zuppa. Crema Di Piselli by Chef Matteo was a soup made out of green pea puree, almond milk and Robiola cheese. It was also peppered with fine almond flakes. The soup had an earthy aroma. The flavor was creamy with the almond milk and pea perfectly blending together. I am not usually fond of meatless soups but this was the epitome of fine dining. The soup's flavor raised my spirits. It was perhaps one of the best soups I have ever had.

The soup was paired with Mannara grillo pinot grigio. This light Sicilian white wine added to the earthy sensations created by the soup. At this point, I could tell that the sommelier knew his stuff well.

Quarter Master : Aye, here she comes. The door is now open...Sort off.

Captain : Get a light. Lets see what is inside.

First Mate : I hope its Rum. Hundred year old Rum.

Captain : So should we drink it or sell it?

Third Course - Primo. Ravioli Di Burratasusu (also by Chef Matteo) was a Burrata cheese ravioli which was served with a bit of Ricotta. The flavor felt slightly chalky at the start but that soon morphed into a cheesy savory flavor. The transition of flavors felt quite exciting. The flavor was quite addicting and Italians once again prove how they are the masters of both meat and meatless grub. I personally found both of Chef Matteo's creations amazing. All three chefs were amazing but for me, Matteo was the winner ha.

This was paired with Santa Cristina. This powerful wine had hints of fresh fruit and floral flavors. The flavor tends to stick for a while and it lends a very spring like theme to the Ravioli. The sweet tannins complemented the savory cheeses well.

Captain(Explores Room) : Good Calypso. So many charts. 

First mate : Its not possible that this ship could have been to that many places in one life time, especially hundred years ago.

Captain : These charts seem to be drawn by the same navigator. They are all signed AS.

First Mate : AS? Could it be...her?

Before the main course, I was served with a lemon and thyme sorbet which acted as a palate cleanser.

Fourth Course. Secondo. Chilean Sea Bass by Chef Christian Huber was served with savory crab cake and decorated with carrots, snow peas and a bit of saffron aioli. This cut of Patagonian toothfish(Real name) had a salty savory skin and a gooey basa like interior. Though not as flavorsome as the dishes that preceded it, this was still satisfying grub.

This was paired with Mannara Merlot. This deep purple red wine was sweet and acidic enhancing the flavor of the toothfish. Its strong acidity resonated well with the gooey fish interior.

The Final course, Dolce. Deconstructed Tiramisu by Chef Marouane. There are few people who can get a deconstructed dessert right. It is after all much more than simply taking a dessert's constituent parts and dumping it together. Chef Marouane was one of those who got it right and to perfection. While the dessert did not look very aesthetically pleasing, the flavor was enchanting.

This was made of Mascarpone, ice cream, shortbread biscuits and coffee powder. Eating any two ingredients together would create a delectable alchemy in the mouth. Shortbread and Mascarpone, Shortbread and ice cream, Ice cream and mascarpone or all three together. There were so many depths of sweetness and so many variations of sweet. A dessert like this is not easy to achieve. Also as a footnote, this was made of relatively healthy ingredients and was gluten free.

Not surprisingly, the dessert won over the other dishes ha.

Captain : Could it be Arianna Silvers? 

First Mate : Must be her. Only she was capable of making so many charts. 

Captain : We are on a ship which was once navigated by THE Arianna Silvers.

First Mate : No one knew what happened to her. She just vanished and became a tale of legends.

The meal, the pairing and the fine details involved in each dish made this battle quite a tasty one. Mezzo Mezzo was an amazing experience in totality. I would love to come here again someday. The biggest obstacle between me and Mezzo Mezzo is the distance. Hopefully someday there will be a way to bypass the dreaded Juhu Tara road which gets crowded by tourist vehicles.

The service was exemplary as expected from an institution within Marriott. The staff was properly trained in serving and wine etiquette. The sommelier's brief at the start also enriched the experience. This was truly first class fine dining.

I cannot really comment on the pricing as it was a special bloggers table but the pricing is expected to be high. The quality of ingredients, expertise and the experience are worth every penny spent.

This was definitely one of my best meal experiences as a blogger and food writer. I would surely visit again in the future and construct my own five course meal the next time.

Finally, if I were to choose a winner - It would be Chef Matteo Arvonio. Both his creations were amazing. And his soup was among the best I have had.

 The Captain's Score : 9/10

Captain : Our work here is complete. Lets leave before the salvagers fight us for these charts.

Quartermaster : These charts would be worth a fortune if we sell them in the black market.

Captain : Imagine the fortune that could be found using these charts mate. We will trace all of Arianna's voyages and find the fantastic things she found a hundred years ago. This is a great discovery lads. I can't wait to sail out.

Map Co-Ordinates
Mezzo Mezzo
JW Marriott,
Juhu Tara Road,
Juhu, Mumbai

-I was invited to be a part of the event by the Restaurant's PR. My review however remains objective.-

Mezzo Mezzo - JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday 11 June 2016

Cafe Cubano - Kemps Corner, Mumbai.

That could have been ours I thought as I looked at a wrecked ship that had mysteriously landed in the middle of the street. It was literally thrown by the ocean on to the island or so it seemed. As the local people crowded the structure, we decided to explore the ship. The ship seemed to have been abandoned ages ago. Ship wrecks often give us vital information like the one that gave us the map for the compass ha.

Cafe Cubano is a rather puzzling name as it serves neither Cubanos nor the famous Cuban coffee. The place was on my radar for a while as I had seen a lot of positive reviews by other writers. When the resident PR contacted me, I gladly accepted the invitation to give the place a shot.

The place looks less like a restaurant/Cafe and more like a pub with its dark appearance and industrial ceiling. The ambiance isn't much to talk about though it did feel comforting in the hot afternoon. The choice of furniture seemed a bit odd as it did not match the decor. There were too many different themes talking without any connection with one another.

The bar looked good but it was marred by the presence of the fish tank. This fish tank felt out of place unless one used a lot more of the aquarium tank and made the whole wall aquatic themed. Something like in Singapore's Sentosa. The bar chairs were comfy but one can't help note that they look plain weird, bar stools would have looked more appropriate.

Fix the Bulb. How many Food writers does it take to change a light bulb? One in this case as I fixed the bulb by emptying its contents in me mouth. The flavor was dominated by fruit juice, notably orange. It used Dark Rum and a bit of a flavoring from Elderflowers. The kick was mild and the drink seemed to be more on the fruity sweet side but it provided ample relief to my parched throat.

P.S : One does not need a screwdriver to change a light bulb. These screwdrivers are a turn off and need to go.

Chocolate Margarita was disappointing. It almost had no kick and Hershey's Chocolate sauce doesn't always make the best Chocolate drink. There was far too much powdery ice in it making the drink watery by the time I reached the half mark. The glass should also have been rimmed with chocolate granules, a traditional part of chocolate margaritas. The only appreciable part of the drink was that it was slightly pepperminty which made it a good cooler after spicy grub.

The Food at Cubano seems like a mix of Indian and Progressive Indian. Progressive Indian is a term that is being used too often now days for places that tend to fuse Indian food with other cuisines.

Peri Peri Chicken was very very good in flavor. The superficial plating with the sauce art however was unneeded and I felt that this dish would have looked better without the saucework. The chicken morsels were juicy, savory and spicy. Each bite had a Tandoori flavor with an African twist. Makes a great appetizer or a bar nibble, you choose.

Captain : This ship looks like she hasn't sailed for decades. 

First mate : Ain't that obvious? This vessel is using a design from the previous century.

Khairul Shaikh Ke Kebab was made of minced Lamb meat inside chicken meat on a skewer. The meats were well done, apparently both cooked at the lamb's temperature. However, the two meats were indistinguishable in flavor which was a letdown. The Kebabs were spicy and this seemingly paired well with "Fix the Bulb" since it fixed both the dryness and the heat. I should actually call that drink Bulb the fixer.

P.S Get rid of that sauce work, really.

Malbari Curry tastes and looks like Malabari curry. Not sure if there is some reference behind the misspelled name. This dish doesn't look aesthetically pleasing but it turned out to be the underdog champion of the day. The curry had a lovely aroma, enough to knock off the drinks from my bloodstream and open my eyes wide. I eagerly put in a spoon and ate my first bite.

Moments later, I was scrapping the last drop of curry from the bowl. The pleasant mixture of coconut, tamarind and possibly jaggery felt like the ultimate homemade dish. It was a mix of salty, savory and the  pungent. I did not enjoy the chicken pieces in it as much as I enjoyed the liquid curry.

Captain : No treasure, No chart and no clue.

Navigator : There are burn marks all over the top deck.

Captain : There was a fire here?

Navigator : Nay, more like someone burnt something intentionally on the deck.

Cutting Chai Panna cotta with a Indian shortbread biscuit(Naankhatai) was a poor execution of a layered dessert. Firstly, Panna Cotta is best served on a plate. This serves both aesthetic and gustatory purposes. Second, if one must add whip cream and compote on top of a thin layer of panna cotta, why even call it a panna cotta?

After an annoying fight with the top layers, I managed to dip in my spoon into the panna cotta and it turned out to be a bitter version of condensed tea. It seemed to lack the consistency of a true panna cotta feeling more like a thick granulated paste instead.

Banoffee Pie Pudding. I am quite supportive of fusion food or new methods of cooking food but I actually had to stare at this for a while. What exactly was this? It was a loose mixture of buttered graham cracker crumbs, regular bananas, some whip cream and chocolate flakes. A heap of lackluster ingredients tossed into a glass. The bananas were not even caramelized. I could not finish it because it tasted horrible and I rarely leave a dessert midway. I feel that this one has to be either reworked completely or be taken off the menu.

My first choice of dessert - Chocolate Mousse was not available that day.

The service was decent as my server knew his stuff (Save the desserts part) and accommodated my trips with food near the window for better pictures.

The pricing seems to be acceptable for food but as far as drinks and desserts go, one needs to punch in some quality to make it worth the buck.

Cafe Cubano needs to fix its house. Other than the Peri Peri Chicken and Malbari curry, everything else was dismal. They need a dedicated dessert chef to redo the sweet stuff.

The Captain's Score : 6/10

"Our experience felt unsatisfying and we decided to explore a different part of this ship. There must surely be some good somewhere."

Map Co-Ordinates
Cafe Cubano
Ground Floor, Habib Mansion,
Kemps Corner, Mumbai

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

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