Every city has a word. A word that might not have resonance or traction in any other place, but in the confines of its home city, is indispensable. In Singapore, it’s “lah”; in Delhi, “oye” and in Mumbai, it’s “boss” – used with multiple inflections, each with its own meaning. As a way to catch a stranger’s attention, perhaps, or as a way to express frustration or even to express specifics like “Come here”, “Don’t try to take advantage of me” and “What’s wrong?”
Its many uses as well as other uniquely Mumbai colloquialisms have been captured in Griphin Official’s “Shit People Say in Mumbai”, a YouTube short inspired by a series of similar videos made around the world. The city’s consumerist (and the filmmakers’ sexist) attitude is evident when a girl tells her friend, “Dude, the Mango sale is on!” There’s celebrity-spotting by way of a telephone conversation (“Priyanka Chopra is sitting right next to me”), and a Mumbai darshan (“Okay, now that’s Amitabh’s house.”) Our island city’s fixation with geography is also hinted at.
The great geographic divide is also the basis of the two competing memes, south Mumbai’s Obnoxious Townie Lemur and its frenemy, the Righteous Burbie Raccoon – both the critters have a Facebook page. The laughs are cheap and easy – usually playing up the cluelessness each has about the other side of the city – but they reflect the stark mental divide between the residents of the areas. Most Mumbaikars grow up on either side of, say, Worli – a concept migrants and expats first find alien. So it’s easier for “townies” to travel to Singapore (to shop at Forever 21) or the US (where they last caught Norah Jones playing) than to visit “Kandi Valley”, which is not as nice as Aamby Valley. The suburban raccoon has rejoinders for the cranky lemur, but does not spend too much time advancing the virtues of the great north.
A few themes emerge from both the memes: a disdain for Delhi and the city’s transport network is an easy and obvious target. Mumbai’s small apartments elicit the excited “Hey, you have a bathtub!” in the video, while our primate friend scoffs at the notion of putting down Rs44,000 for a BlackBerry phone when a square foot of real estate in south Mumbai can be had for the same price. With their tongues firmly placed in their cheek, the memes serve as a collective, crowd-sourced documentation of the way we conduct ourselves on a daily basis.
The anticipation around the opening of Mamagoto has grown over the past 12 months. As with most things, Mumbaikars want what is just beyond their reach, and Mamagoto, the pan-Asian eatery that has its origins in Delhi’s Khan Market, was just that. So the city has been buzzing about the openings in quick succession of a first outlet at Ghatkopar’s R City Mall followed by another, the flagship, at Hill Road, Bandra. We choose to review the outlet at R City Mall.
The quirky design that the eateries (there are four in NCR and now two in Mumbai) are known for is evident on walking into the restaurant. The colourful interiors, with prints of tigers, cherry blossoms and dragons, are a vivid contrast with the plain white walls of the mall outside. White-washed bicycle wheels form a divider while light shades are covered with circular coaster sized pieces of monochrome Asian-inspired art.
The design carries over to the menu card which is colourful and suffers from being very busy with five symbols representing everything from “healthy eating” to “old favourites” and “mama recommends.” Being first-timers at Mamagoto we were surprised to find no mention of dim sum or sushi on the menu. It does feature tom yum soup, soggy (their description not ours) Thai style noodles and an assortment of woks and grills. Having walked in on a hot evening, we started with two mocktails, a kiwi and mint Collins and wasabi mary, both refreshingly chilled. The restaurant plans to start serving alcohol as soon as its liquor licence is approved.
The starters we ordered were a mixed bag. The spicy fried calamari had too much batter and we couldn’t taste any of the squid under the brown and not very spicy skin. The dipping sauce we had to ask for marginally elevated the dish (by making the batter taste less like well, batter). Our fried spinach and tofu in miso sauce on the other hand was the best dish of the night, with the fresh silky tofu dissolving slowly in the mouth under a bed of crispy spinach and sweet, thick, brown miso glaze.
The Robata grilled fish we ordered, for our main course, looked baked when it came to the table, the first of many ways the dish let us down. There was no smoky flavour that slow cooking over a coal fire would have imbibed and the bland fillet was not helped by the too sweet serving sauce it came with. We took solace in a hearty bowl of Penang curry which was a thick broth with just the right amount of coconut milk. The sticky rice accompanying it makes this a filling one-bowl meal.
Our dessert was a choice between the chocolate brownie and mud cake as the rest of the options weren’t available. We immediately wished we had ordered the brownie after tasting a bite of what was basically a slice of chocolate cake with icing.
We spoke to Rahul Khanna, one of the partners behind Mamagoto and south Mumbaikars shouldn’t despair. They plan to expand to Lower Parel within the year if the the two eateries do well.
The funky interiors make this a great place to spend time after work, and a fully functioning bar will soon be another draw. Curiosity will sustain Mamagoto in the short term but, if it wants to thrive the restaurant will have to work on its food. After all, a trip to Delhi is no longer required to sample the restaurant’s offerings.
Over dinner at Trattoria, talk turned to how on weekends, the Vivanta by Taj, President hosts drinkers descending on Wink, the bar alongside, for a night out; followed by revellers looking for a bite after the city’s entertainment options close for the night. Inevitably a pizza is ordered – it’s not messy, it tastes delicious and can be customised. The pizzas on almost every table we walked past to get to ours, are a nod to what most people order when dining out even on a Tuesday night.
Tratts (as it is fondly called), the coffee shop at the aforementioned hotel has been open since 1982, and last November, underwent a renovation – which includes additions to the menu.The new interiors are supposed to remind us of a “rustic chic Italian home” (as the press release puts it), but we couldn’t help thinking we were dining in an airport lounge. The minimal earthy palette jars against the noise and spaciousness of the eatery. The projection screen showing IPL matches (thankfully on mute) was another misstep in our opinion.
We started with a cosmopolitan and mojito, both of which were potent yet tasty. After mulling over the extensive menu we started with a prawn cocktail and a salad of rucola, lettuce, parmesan, oranges and cucumber. The salad, with a generous drizzling of sweet balsamic glaze was light, cooling and could easily make a meal for someone with a small appetite. The prawns, served in a bowl and not the traditional glass, were piquant and zesty with a fair amount of the brandy-infused cocktail sauce.
Service, a point of pride for the Taj group of hotels was so-so with us having to request a waiter to take our main course order, marring an otherwise hospitable meal. The lamb chops were slightly fatty but cooked well and paired with a refreshing light (and cheese-free) mushroom risotto subtly flavoured with herbs like mint and rosemary.
Would a pizza, the weekend, late-night staple be as good on a weekday? It was. The Fiamma, a simple pie of onions and chilli flakes on a thin crust was crunchy and spicy. The cheese was evenly distributed and didn’t drift off all at once in the first bite.
The chocolate mud pie served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream was disappointing. The dessert sampler scored better. Of the four mini-desserts, the vanilla panna cotta was a triumph, while the orange crème brûlée and vanilla ice cream were avoidable: the former was too thick while the latter was served on limp brandy snaps. The tiramisu was too creamy and lacked any kick.
Ultimately though, there’s a certain comfort level folks have with Tratts and that’s what keeps them coming back. The menu changes occasionally but not drastically enough, so old favourites rub shoulders with newer regional Italian dishes. At its core, the coffee shop remains the living room for a certain kind of south Mumbaikar.
It says a lot about Royal Sindh that even without a functioning air conditioner, the tiny, garagesized restaurant was packed. It also explains the overdose of beverages on our bill. The heat, which has permeated the city, luckily also made it to our satisfying order of aloo tikki that we started our meal with. The plump tikkis were full of big chunks of yellow potato and finely chopped green chillies under a fried, slightly oily skin.
The bare walls with four wooden jharokas and abstract geometric prints didn’t add any atmosphere to the eatery, but who cares when the food is this good? The Sindhi kadi and sai bhaji we ordered were both accompanied by bowls overflowing with rice. The sai bhaji (a Sunday special here) was a lightly spiced combination of spinach and dal, though somewhat watery. Sadly the kadi, a dish we were all looking forward to underwhelmed, lacking the tart aftertaste it is known for. As one dining companion put it “It’s Sindhi kadi that would be served in a prison.” But it proved to be the singular blot on an otherwise excellent meal.
It was the bhugga mutton though, which was the clear winner of the evening. Succulent pieces of melt-in-the-mouth meat and the mildly-spiced dish paired well with the thin round rotis we ordered. Service at the restaurant was slow but the staff are wellversed with the menu and take obvious pride in their work. To bookend our meal, we tried the chashni bread. Like most Sindhi food, it consisted of something fried – in this case bread – and was topped with sweet malai. The crunchy brown toast gives an interesting texture to a sickly sweet dessert. With four pieces to a plate, we left several uneaten, unable to stomach the sugariness.
In its two months of existence, the restaurant has endeared itself to the area’s Sindhi community. A family of eight enjoyed their meal at the next table, while homedelivery orders were constantly being rushed out the door. The regional restaurant offers Sindhi grandmothers and mothers a chance to take the occasional night off and still enjoy a homecooked meal. Not to mention introducing the cuisine to a wider audience.
In February this year, San Pellegrino unveiled its “Top 50 Restaurants in Asia”, causing a fair bit of chatter online owing to it being the first edition of this list. India had seven restaurants on the list; Wasabi by Morimoto (Mumbai) ranked at 20 while Colaba’s Indigo – the only restaurant from India not part of a hotel – was at 28.
The inclusion of Indigo, housed in a colonial villa, tucked away in a Colaba by-lane is testament to its overall impact on the city’s dining landscape. When it opened in 1999, it was, in the words of its chef and owner Rahul Akerkar, “the first stand-alone of a particular quality.” At one time, being familiar with their lunch and dinner menu was de rigueur for the city’s elite. Today, Indigo’s star might have somewhat faded with the opening of restaurants like The Table, helmed by the innovative Alex Sanchez, just a short walk away.
And yet it is Akerkar who is responsible for drawing the fine dine out of five-star hotels. As someone who in his own words had, “first mover advantage,” which made it easier by default to get started Akerkar has been able to shape both the restaurant and diners expectations over its 14 years, and prepare them for the variety of cuisines being served in the city today. Indigo, was and is all about fresh local ingredients, classic techniques and innovative flourishes.
According to Akerkar,the profusion of expensive dining options in the city in contemporary times though isn’t a measure of the city’s love for food. As he recounted, “The people getting into an industry [now] are either restaurateurs or owners. They just copy or bring in an imported concept because it’s current and in the moment. In four to five months the original restaurant will have moved on with a new menu or a new chef. And then there’s an identity crisis or a quality crisis.” He also pointed out that, “In India there’s been no evolution [like there was in the Western world].”
Akerkar conceded though that diners today have a lot more options and so restaurants must ensure they stay consistent and keep their identity. When asked about how he manages his staff, Akerkar admits that the chef turnover is high. “It’s hard and it’s good. It’s hard because you get new people but it’s also good because you get new people. Today starting levels are higher. Chefs have experience abroad and want to come back to India. They’ve worked in restaurants or in cruise ships so they have the work ethic.” As for Akerkar’s future plans for Indigo, he laughed when he said, “I have no idea where Indigo will be next year, so I can’t say anything about 14 years from now.”
Design blogs and magazines are filled with spaces with impossibly white walls, wood embellishments, shiny polished floors and just the right number of people to make the space look inhabited. When we walked into Pallette one Tuesday afternoon, that’s what we were reminded of. Located in Kamala City, the upscale canteen serves the office crowd in the area. We were taken in by the undulating wood ceiling, vaguely insect-looking white plastic chairs and walls with food quotes (a trend we’d like to see put to bed). The coolers filled with assorted aerated drinks were well stocked and provided some colour to the otherwise unadorned space.
The food at Pallette is tucked away on left of the entrance. In theory, you’re supposed to pick up a tray and go down the line choosing to order pizzas, soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, mains, desserts and drinks in that order. In practice, the toonarrow corridor is filled with officeworkers looking to skip the orderly line and jump to their desired category. We gave the made-toorder pizzas a miss, and got a chicken Hawaiian salad instead. The salad line-up also included seafood, lamb and bean sprout, cucumber and yogurt, beetroot and mixed vegetables, and pasta variant on the day we visited. The crunchy salad with green peppers, pineapple, and chicken made for a great quick bite and we almost licked our bowl clean.
The sandwiches and wraps (both grilled) were also passed over in favour of the Thai green curry with fish and steamed rice from their hot meals selection. The chicken biryani, vegetable fried rice, sweet potato mash and lamb lasagne l ooked interesting but we were vindicated when we tried our curry and rice. The coconut milk didn’t overwhelm and the piquant curry was flavourful but mild. The large chunks of fish were fresh and evenly cooked. Both the salads and mains change with every meal so regular punters can vary their orders and even cuisines. The eatery was crowded with crisply dressed office staffers making the most of their lunch break. It’s a great place to go with co-workers since the portion sizes encourage sharing. The loud house music might be a welcome relief from spreadsheets and conference call, but was intrusive. Ultimately, with its generous portions and competence across a wide range of cuisines, Pallette should please those working in and around Kamala City. We’ve already been back, and we can safely say it’s a palate cleanser from the more conventional lunch options.
Giant leather-and-Rexine sandwiches jut out of the walls on either side of the new eatery Between Breads – but that is just a front for a cosy restaurant, designed by Ayaz Basrai’s Busride Studio. Glossy red tables reflect the condiments arrayed on them – ketchup, mustard, Tabasco and Dettol hand sanitiser – and are set off by the white bar stools, all within easy reach of an Archie comic.
The only reading material we were interested in was the menu. We felt our heart leap with joy at the assorted use of bacon: on fries, between several kinds of breads – burger buns and crunchy baguettes – or just as a side order. Vegetarians can opt for a panini (grilled tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, roasted peppers, zucchini, crumbled cottage cheese and light mayo), the spicy PLT (paneer in peri peri sauce, lettuce and tomatoes) and aloo patty burger among others. They plan to start home delivery in the area as well.
We ordered the Morning After from the Chef’s Specials section. The sandwich promised bacon, ham, a fried egg, French fries, and grilled tomatoes on a baguette brushed with garlic aioli. It was everything it’s cracked up to be, even if the kitchen took its time with it. The bread, thick but not overpowering, let the fatty bacon and its juices seep over the French fries and a beautiful, fried egg.
Having overlooked the hot dog on our first look at the menu we gave in to our curiosity and sampled the Chicago hot dog. We were hoping for chopped jalapenos but it was more than made up for by the mustard. The bacon fries were a generous basketful but could have done withsome more chopped bacon. Our Arnold Palmer – half lemonade and half lemon iced tea – was tangy, cooling and mercifully, not acidic. The pink lemonade on the other hand, is missable.
Between Breads has more than enough inventive options to keep us coming back – if only to line our stomach before a night of binge drinking. If you plan on walking in hungover though, remember you are there to eat the sandwich; the sandwich is not going to eat you.
Take a walk down any Bandra street and you’ll realise that dessert –cupcakes, specifically – are no further than ten minutes away. Which is why we were surprised at Twitterverse’s outpouring of glee following Le 15 Pâtisserie’s announcement of an outlet in the area. Maybe it’s the patisserie’s reputation: their signature macarons and red velvet cupcakes are routinely sold out at their two counters at Palladium and Raghuvanshi Mills’ Good Earth. We were curious to try those in addition to the new Bandra-only treats like green tea cookies, salted caramel tarts and desserts in a jar à la Country of Origin.
Past the outdoor seating area, helmed in by a white picket fence (although, isn’t that an American ideal?), and in through a pink door, a Parisian bakery opens out in front of you. When we walked in one weekday afternoon, the two vitrines were thankfully still full of macarons in an assortment of colours, tarts, cupcakes and tiny pastry squares – a happy, rainbow clash with the baby pink walls. Framed quotes from Julia Child as well as a poster of the Eiffel Tower (just in case the name didn’t alert you to the bakery’s French-ness) and behind-the-scenes photos from the patisserie’s central kitchen in Lower Parel complete the picture.
In the hour we sat there, eating a chocolate tart (rich, indulgent and with a thick layer of dense chocolate) followed by their salted caramel one (the chocolate ganache overwhelmed the caramel that was tucked beneath it), we saw a pair of girls take away 18 macarons, while another group of four was upset that there were no eggless macarons on offer. Without any such dietary restrictions, we quickly demolished our mint chocolate, pistachio (the best of the lot), dark chocolate, coffee and passion fruit macarons. The creamy, ganache-filled centre balanced the brittle yet crumbly cookie base. It was now becoming clear why area residents with a sweet tooth had more than enough room in their hearts and stomachs for the new eatery.
The tiny portions are served on a white cake stand if eaten in the café. Unfortunately, the plastic cutlery you’re meant to eat your chocolate-strawberry pastry and green tea tart with will stop you from being transported to Paris’ 15th arrondissement, which is where Pooja Dhingra, Le 15’s owner and head chef spent a year (and which lends its name to the patisserie). The green tea flavour was not discernible under the butteriness of the crunchy tart but the chocolate-strawberry, a pastry layered with ganache and strawberries, balanced intense and sweet flavours.
We were ready to walk out, when our attention was drawn to a posy of cupcakes. The Oreo, Nutella, red velvet and chunky chocolate ones that we tried were fresh and fluffy, though the red velvet was the clear winner, subtle yet tangy. The Nutella too, with a generous filling of the hazelnut and chocolate spread is recommended. We wanted to round off the meal with a cup of coffee but were told an espresso machine was forthcoming. Disappointed, we made our way home, but only with our boxes of 18 macarons.
The woven grey felt that covered the walls around the black wooden staircase immediately caught our attention. Why cover a wall in felt? Why weave it the way Bottega Veneta does with leather? These were the existential design questions circling in our mind as we made our way into the Bandra’s new Asian food eatery Singkong. The restaurant’s moniker is an “imaginative” combination of Hong Kong and Singapore.
Prompted by our post work hunger pangs we ordered three starters. First was the roasted duck and plum dumpling that we hoped would put our Peking duck pancake cravings to rest. The small dumplings were packed with the sweet and sour taste of the plum sauce, though the duck was overcooked. Our stir-fried sesame beef buns were presented on a stone grey pebble and tasted as good as they looked. Although we wished our server had told us that sauce would be the same plum sauce as used in the dumpling. The dill and salmon sashimi was fresh and the natural sweetness of the fish made it a winner.
The Thai basil margarita, recommended by our server (enthusiastic, but inefficient), was too sweet and lacked a discernible basil taste. Our second round of appetisers was a mixed bag. The sizeable portion of salt and pepper calamari was overcooked and rubbery. The interestingly presented Shichimi togarashi potato and vermicelli on a sugar cane stick fared better. Each piece came in its own shot glass with the bottom filled with sweet chilli dipping sauce. The crunchy fried vermicelli and the soft potato filling made a great bite.
With not much of an appetite for our mains, we ordered chilli garlic basmati rice, stir-fried pork with vegetables and wok-tossed bok choy and water chestnuts. The bowl of orange coloured rice left us disappointed, with its overpowering taste of garlic. Luckily, our succulent pork and bok choy made up for it.
For dessert we ordered Singkong’s signature dessert: the sesame honey mini cones which successfully replicated the taste of the honey noodles with ice cream, in an easier to eat and innovative way. The six cones were topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with honey making it a great summery dessert option.
The night we visited there were Bollywood celebrities, a group of college-goers, at least one couple presumably on a date and two tables of families who had come to give Singkong a try. We could see why, the reasonably priced and expansive menu has something for everyone.
Colaba’s newest European eatery is tucked away on the road running behind Radio Club. Open for dinner for now, The Pier plans to start lunch services in the near future. In its earlier avatar as the Japanese restaurant, Tetsuma, it wasn’t uncommon to find revellers from the nightclub Prive drinking at the bar (most of whom had sneaked in through the shared bathroom!). Unfortunately, The Pier still shares its bathroom with revellers at Ghost (the renamed and renovated nightclub) next door.
The cobalt blue sofas add much needed colour to the dimly lit restaurant that is done up predominantly in dark wood. A long, amply stocked bar runs along one wall with sofa seating along another. Both the Pier Flip (dark rum, triple sec, fresh cream, egg yolk and sugar syrup) and Sangria we ordered, had bite and taste in equal measure. The Pier Flip was too sweet and yet strangely, left a bitter aftertaste, as if to remind us of its potency. The sangria though, was light yet flavourful largely in part to the fruit pulp that had been added to it. It’s not on the menu though and will have to be specially requested.
On the owner, Samir Chhabria’s recommendation – he was chatting with patrons and asking for feedback – we ordered the beer battered fried calamari and quinoa tabouli salad to start with. The lightly fried calamari had a thin layer of batter and the right amount of crunch, our only complaint was we couldn’t taste any beer. The quinoa salad though, came off as one-note and was too citrusy for our liking.
While waiting for our pan seared rawas with lemon grass beurre blanc, we studied the menu which features truffle scrambled eggs, duck confit, mushroom risotto, amongst other European favourites. Our main course, which came with cherry tomatoes and braised bok choy, was a revelation for its sauce, which unfortunately looked like dahi chutney but surprised us by adding a subtle lemon grass flavour to our dish. The evening ended with a fluffy cappuccino soufflé accompanied by a piquant Kahlua sauce.
The Pier has nothing to distinguish it from other European eateries in the city. Its bland interiors aren’t inviting and its food is not going to be the main draw. What makes it a winner though are the relatively inexpensive, innovative cocktails.
Know your Kopi Luwak from your Monkey Parchment? While these exotic beans, enhanced with bodily fluids from civet cats and primates, may take a while to reach your street, you can just walk down to a neighbourhood café for other imported variants. If your wallet permits and you feel like experimenting, beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Kenya can be sampled at Moshe’s and Indigo Deli. Usually priced from R150-300 per cup, they’re suitable for an occasional afternoon caffeine fix, but for a cheaper option, go with the house blend at most city cafés.
For caffeine heads, a house blend is the coffee that restaurants serve if you don’t specify a preference, and it usually competes with most coffee chains on taste and quality. The French crêperie Suzette, serves an arabica blend consisting of a monsoon Malabar and an estate blend from Coorg, especially for the café. This special mix pairs especially well with a home-made caramel crêpe, a book and a lazy afternoon. The folks at Kala Ghoda Café also use a bespoke blend, which contains both arabica and robusta beans that gets along famously with their subtle carrot cake. Moshe’s, too has a custom blend made from both the beans.
If you’re confused about the difference between the two, here’s a little primer. The arabica bean is more expensive as it is more delicate to grow and has a diverse flavour profile. Robusta beans, however, contain twice as much caffeine as arabica but are easier to grow, and hence cheaper. Coffee snobs generally prefer arabica, with robusta relegated to massproduced brands like Nescafé and Bru coffee.
Colaba restaurants like Ellipsis and The Table are an indulgent visit, but their coffee prices hover in the same range as the other restaurants mentioned above. With the added benefit of great ambience and superior service.
Both the restaurants, however, are only open for lunch and dinner, which means you have to regulate your coffee craving to meal times. Bandra hipsters and laptop-toting media types are at home at The Bagel Shop andPali Village Café for their laidback vibe and reasonable prices (though only where the coffee is concerned). The Bagel Shop sources its beans from Nilgiri Foods, a wholesaler in Malad. That’s all they’d really tell us, and we don’t mind if the composition of their wake-cuppam remains a secret.
This article first appeared in Time Out Mumbai
TAKE A PIT STOP
The Bagel ShopAnand Villa, 13 Pali Mala Road, Bandra (W) (+91 22 2605 0178). Daily 8am-10pm. All major cards. From R80.
EllipsisAmarchand Mansion, 16 Madam Cama Road, Colaba (+91 22 6621 3333). Tue-Sun 12.30-3pm, 7.30pm-1.30am.All major cards. FromR150.
Indigo Deli Palladium Mall, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (+91 22 4366 6666). Daily 9am-midnight. All major cards.From R135. Also at Andheri, Colaba, Bandra and Ghatkopar.
Kala Ghoda Café10 Ropewalk Lane, Kala Ghoda, Fort (+91 22 2265 0195). Daily 7.30am-10.30pm. All major cards. From R75.
Moshe’s No 7 Minoo Manor, Cuffe Parade (+91 22 2216 1226). Daily noon-midnight. All major cards. From R170. Also at Colaba, Bandra, Ghatkopar, Goregaon, Juhu, Kemps Corner, Lower Parel and Malad.
Pali Village Café Pali Naka, BR Ambedkar Road, Bandra (W) (+91 22 2605 0401). Daily 9am-midnight. All major cards. From R110.
Suzette Atlanta Building, Vinayak Shah Marg, Nariman Point (+91 22 2288 0055). Mon-Sat 8.30am-10.30pm. All major cards. From R113. Also at Bandra.
The Table Hotel Suba Palace, Apollo Bunder, Colaba (+91 22 2282 5000). Noon-3.30pm,7pmmidnight. All major cards. From R125.
Earlier today, Stereogum put out a list of the 10 Best National Songs and it was a travesty. Seven out of the ten songs on the list came from the band’s last two albums, High Violet and Boxer. Barring a single entry from the band’s third album, Boxer, the list leans heavily on material that was put out after 2007 ignoring the output that not only shaped the sound of the outfit, but also the songs that were most likely to draw initial fans in. Harley Brown, the writer of the Stereogum piece justifies the lack of earlier material by saying that “the band itself is divided on how their earlier material should be received.” Music though, like all creative expression depends not on how it should be received but how it is. So here’s my list of the 10 best National Songs.
So what is bubble tea? Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and is named for the black tapioca “bubbles” that are introduced to a basic iced tea; either milk or water-based. At Teaze, they’ve expanded the range of bubbles from simple tapioca to include flavours like mango and lychee as well as others. Be warned: it’s known to be highly addictive.
So it doesn’t taste like gum? Not quite. Our green apple-flavoured green tea was sickeningly sweet, though not unexpected for a drink made with syrup, bottles of which were behind the counter. They also offer black tea, in flavours like almond, honey and taro.
Am I only going to find tea there? Teaze does not serve food and is devoted to teas, milkshakes and smoothies. Their “Energisers” are made using fresh fruit juice. We tried the watermelon quencher with yogurt bubbles. The drink had none of the promised mint or ginger, and we ended up with a simple watermelon juice with a generous zing of chaat masala. The yogurt bubble – a small ball filled with yogurt that oozes out once bitten into – brought nothing to the table. It is as vile as it sounds. You may fare better with the smoothies that are made from fruit-juice yogurt, or the “T-shakes”, that is milk tea whipped with chocolate or ice cream, but we didn’t hazard a try of either after the taste left in our mouth by the “Energiser”.
Are you paying for the ambience? Not really. Teaze is a hole-in-the-wall opposite Golden Star at Charni Road. Inside, against the wall at the back, is the machine used to vaccum-seal each glass. Getting to the entrance requires some training in calisthenics: you’ll have to leap over college kids lounging on the steps with their colourful drinks.
An expertly rolled sushi is one of the few dishes Time Out will hoof the whole city for – and the prawn tempura roll at Skky, the new rooftop restaurant and lounge bar, made the trek to Powai bearable. The densely packed rice gave way to the crunchy prawn and we tasted a hint of the teriyaki glaze the menu had promised. We’d browsed the menu on an interactive Sony tablet, with photographs of each dish and were impressed, if somewhat confused by its diversity: sushi, salads and dim sum sat comfortably alongside pizzas and, err, a tandoor menu.
Skky is a serene restaurant and bar, furnished in dark greys and blacks, with frangipani trees and faux lotuses in ankle-deep water. A long bar – Skky claims it’s the longest in the city – along the entrance means boisterous drinkers can raise hell without disturbing diners. The entire restaurant is laid out to provide privacy and quiet for diners, but that makes catching the waiter’s eye just a little bit harder.
We eventually succeeded in placing our order and celebrated with a whiskey sour and orange margarita. The bar uses fresh ingredients; syrups and mixers are made in-house with no artificial sweetners. A relief, because we like our frothy margaritas flavourful, but with a kick.
Our drunken prawn soup, a thick, quivering broth, was delicious, and made us wish they hadn’t scrimped on the prawn pieces (we got only two). The chicken dim sum, four pieces to an order, were great as well. On the chef’s recommendation, we went with the salmon in black bean sauce which turned out to have too little sauce and was overcooked. It was saved by the soba noodles that alone would make a great one-dish lunch.
The chef insisted we try the green tea and a paan ice cream for a sweet end to the meal. The subtlety of the green tea was lost after a meal with intense soy and chilli flavours. But the paan ice cream, managed to recreate the taste of betel leaves, and the hidden areca nut (supari) was like finding a butterscotch crunchie.
The attentive staff, good food and outdoor setting, a rarity in Mumbai, make us hope Skky starts attracting more than just hotel guests and the odd couple out on a date. But its steep prices and location may deter even those who love their sushi.
We nearly thought Aoi (pronounced “aawee”) was a manga café. The handle on the door is an origami crane; the birds nest on the ceiling too. A bookshelf with volumes on ikebana and haiku, as well as green tea guides, can be found next to the kitchen.
The à la carte menu (bound on the right, the way Japanese books are) reflects the meticulousness displayed in the interiors. The steamed prawn with cream cheese dumpling caught our eye, but the portion, served with the tail peaking out of the dim sum, was disappointing. The refined-flour skin was too thick, and overpowered the delicately steamed prawn inside; the white of the cream cheese didn’t impart any flavour either.
We fared better with the crab sushi, with Japanese mayonnaise and chives, but it’s better without its accompaniments. The soy sauce is overly light and very sweet, while the tiny wasabi balls lack any kick. Our ramen, the white miso bouillabaisse, is a subtle dish: the slightly tangy broth, perfectly cooked noodles, seafood and garnish of nori combined to make a great spoonful. The vegetarian golden curry that we tried was sans the spicy kimchi the menu promised; a shame, as the piquant curry could have done with some tempering.
Aoi had not yet started serving desserts, so we ended our meal with green tea. Our organic and almost caffeine-free tea was a light and refreshing end to a meal filled with several overwhelming flavours.
Aoi’s moderate pricing is likely to be a draw, but the range of dishes and uneven execution makes navigating their menu a bit of a task. With the hope of a little more attention in our hearts, we’ll be back to sample more from their impressive selection.
Bohri Mohalla, famous for its khau gully, street food options, bakeries and mithai shops, is all set to get a modern makeover. The shops will remain but will over time be rehoused in more contemporary structures. What will vanish forever is the hustle bustle of a much-loved neighbourhood. Time Outnavigates the bylanes to find the dishes most famous for flavour.
1. BAIDA ROTI Indian Hotel is nothing more than two massive tavas in a bare store front, but luckily, that’s all that is needed to make their chicken baida roti. Made on-the-spot on order, the baida roti is made with rumali roti and egg before being expertly folded into a neat square around the minced chicken. While waiting for our delectable dish, we looked around at the other meats on the tava, and spotted bheja and gurda (kidney) along with kheema, all of which are popular.
2. BARA HANDI The cuts of meat that go into this 12-pot spread, at Vali Bhai Payawala, are diverse: there’s everything from trotters to tail (of both beef and mutton). The meats are simmered in their own juices overnight and by the time they’re ready to be served, they’re as tender as the choicest of cuts. Combined with dal and sprinkled with homemade masala, the four gelatinous stews (paya, nalli, sukha and nihari) come accompanied with a light Irani roti (made with maida) that is pillowy soft and takes on the multiple, layered flavours that keeps people coming back for this dish.
3. CHANA BATATA Alvi’s street stall is not hard to miss. No matter what time of the day you visit, it’s always surrounded by hungry patrons. An all-day affair, the snack stand is located outside a juice store also called Alvi’s. The Chinese soup bowl in which their chana batata is served looks deceptively small, but the portion is substantial. The chana and aloo is topped with tangy and spicy sauces before being served. Those looking for a meatier bite can add chicken liver.
4. CHICKEN SHAWARMA Walk past Haji Tikka in the afternoon, and you’ll spot an empty restaurant with a lone man skewering kebabs. Reward his handiwork after the 20-seater restaurant opens at 5pm by ordering a filling chicken shawarma and a juicy seekh kebab on the side. The shawarma at Haji Tikka is a generous portion of chicken, with lettuce, pickled beetroot and a creamy garlic sauce wrapped in pita bread. The thick pita bread is heated on the flames of the vertical spit, which lets it soak up some of the juices dripping off the chicken rotating next to it.
5. JALEBI The jalebis served at JJ Jalebi are an acquired taste (they taste and look slightly burnt). Unlike their bright orange counterparts from other mithai shops, these dark brown jalebis are thicker (about half an inch thick) and have a generous mawa filling. Biting into one is a sensory experience – the thin crunchy outside gives way to a soft inside unlike any jalebi we have tasted before. The change in texture, however, enhances the jalebi’s sweetness. Other yummies on the menu are the gulab jamun and halwa parathas.
6. KHARI The khari at Imdadiya Bakery, baked at 5.30am every day, is so popular that customers travel from Kurla to stock up on the flaky biscuits, as we learned on chatting with the customer next to us. A long counter with cakes and other sweets displayed behind the glass are enough to entice passers-by. But it quickly becomes clear that their biscuits are what they are famous for. The varkhi (a puffy circular biscuit) and khari are the hot sellers. A second batch of both is made at 2pm to satiate the afternoon and evening crowd.
7. KHEEMA SAMOSAS The patti kheema samosas from Gulzar-e-Mohamad Hotel are incredibly cheap and a great buy at R3 each. The crunchy pastry gives way to a mint and kheema concoction. The samosas are freshly fried on a gas stove just outside the hotel and are a perfect snack for bargain hunters looking to grab a bite while they explore Chor Bazaar. A warning; carry a wad of tissues with you to soak up the oil before biting in. Served only after 1.30pm, the samosas tend to run out by 3pm.
8. KHICHDA Khichda, a dish of mutton and dal mixed with pounded wheat and topped with burnt onion and slices of garlic, is a hearty meal. At HM Jalil Cold Drink and Juice Centre, the portion size is small but substantial. The khichda has a texture similar to glutinous porridge but tastes nothing like it. The small portion packs a power punch in terms of taste and flavour. The corner stand is a onedish shop and though it’s open all through the day (serving juices and cold drinks), the khichda is available only after 4pm.
9. MALAI KHAJA During Ramzan, their phirni is what draws people from miles around, but that’s not the only thing Tawakkal Sweets has to offer. The shop’s famous malai khaja is a delicious and flaky puff pastry made with malai. The melt-in-your-mouth chunk of decadence tempers the sweetness of the malai with a flaky pastry. Don’t get put off by the imposing glass display that showcases desserts in a variety of colours. Just stand on your toes and confidently place your orders for their special dahi wada (dipped in hot sugar syrup before being served) and malpuas which are the other popular items here.
10. SITAPHAL ICE CREAM You know that Taj Ice Cream’s fame is justified when global street food junkie Anthony Bourdain stopped by to sample its icy delights. All their ice creams are made daily with real fruit, and are churned in a sancha (a wooden tub with a copper cylinder in the centre.) The generous portions have been pleasing regulars for over 120 years and it isn’t uncommon to use the restaurant as a local landmark when making your way around the bazaar. The sitaphal and mango flavours are the most popular, and both are available all year round. Also try the delicious choco-hazelnut and strawberry flavours
The second generation is always looking for ways to expand and develop the family business. Zyros Zend, 44, is no different. This selfstyled cookie man’s family owns the Yazdani Bakery at Fort, so baking was naturally in his blood. A stint roughly 20 years ago, when working on a cruise ship based in Miami with jaunts to Mexico and Jamaica, introduced him to fortune cookies. On returning to the city, he decided it was a novel concept worth introducing and he took it upon himself to do so.
Zend took the plunge in 1998, after spending a year at Sophia Polytechnic, doing the Craftsman’s course: after the full-time programme that included a seven-month training period at a city hotel, Zend started baking cookies at home. What started as a one-man operation based out of the family kitchen, has today evolved into the nine-member company, Fortune Cookie India. The team makes cookies in Mumbai and sells them all over the country through courier. Their clients in the city include All Stir Fry (the Chinese restaurant at the Gordon House Suites) and San-Qi (the Pan-Asian restaurant at the Four Seasons).
Between 1998 and 2000, each cookie was made and shaped by hand: this included the tough task of achieving the cookie’s distinctive half-moon shape. Today, however, the entire production process has been automated. Zend uses a machine that he designed and got local craftsmen to build. He still recalls the feedback he was given by Hemant Oberoi (now the corporate chef for the Taj group of hotels and grand executive chef at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower) after the chef tasted his first batch of handmade cookies. He was told that Indians are used to sweeter and richer textures, so Zend upped the sugar and butter quantities to make it more palatable to our taste buds. That the recipe has remained unchanged for the last 12 years is testimony to the cookie’s popularity. Today, the Indian Hotels Company (the group that runs the Taj group of hotels) is Zend’s biggest customer. In addition to supplying to hotels and restaurants, Zend’s fortune cookies are also retailed at Godrej Nature’s Basket and Gourmet West at Westside.
The company makes between 1,000-2,000 cookies daily, which are shipped nationally (as well as internationally where he has a distributor in Australia)for marketing events, birthdays or even wedding proposals. (Zend can regale you for hours about men who have asked him to bake a wedding ring into the cookie for a surprise ending to a romantic meal.) For requests like these, the entire bakery is shut down and a single cookie made to ensure there are no mix-ups. A cookie proposal is the only time he allows the customer into the bakery, and he proudly stated, “Until now, all are successful cases.” For these proposals he charges customers a shagun amount of Rs101. Naturally, these proposals are most popular around Valentine’s Day. The ring is normally included with a fortune that says something like, “Your life is about to change in the next 10 seconds.”
Apart from romantic proposals, Zend also takes orders for personalised birthday fortunes, post-wedding thank-you messages, and birth announcements. Individual customers aside, there has been a shift in his clientele over the past two years: more corporates now use fortune cookies as a marketing device, either for new product launches or simply to entice would-be customers with innovative and product related fortunes. Requests for customisation require a minimum order of 100 cookies.
Zend’s regular fortune cookies are made with eggs, but he does have an eggless recipe for vegetarians. Thanks to the internet, he now routinely delivers to cities like Nashik and Kolkata, as well as further afield, to countries that include Singapore and the UAE where he says people prefer the sweeter taste.
As important as the cookies – or some may argue, even more so – are the paper fortunes. These slivers of parchment-thin paper are produced in-house and mechanically inserted into each cookie after being baked. The fortunes have been culled by Zend from books of wisdom that he purchased in the US and each fortune is personally selected by him. He has a library of about 600 fortunes that he uses, which cater to nearly every occasion.
His biggest concerns today are ensuring that his cookies are made hygienically and meet his quality standards; another complaint is the lack of space in the city. “Today, I want to expand and I am having a fucking big problem,” he rued. “It’s expensive, yaar.”
Other than his bakeries, Zend is a HAM radio enthusiast and a founder of the Mumbai amateur radio society which assists public bodies like the police as well as the coast guard on the final day of Ganpati Visarjan helping co-ordinate between different agencies. The Colaba-based father of two also enjoys yachting and is a member of the Colaba Sailing Club. He divides his time between the Fort bakery and the Marine Lines one where the cookies are produced daily.
Even after 24 years, Zend still remembers a Sister Celia at the Sophia Polytechnic who gave him the confidence to play around with the original recipe and tweak it to suit Indian palates. Over the past seven years, he has served as an external examiner at the same institute. For a man who believes in paying it forward, that’s how the cookie crumbles.
In the days before Mumbai’s several reclamations, island-hopping across the seven atolls, used to be a possibility. Seven, a 24-hour eatery at the newly opened Shangri-La hotel, allows Mumbaikars to do just that. Only the well-heeled ones though; the buffet dinner is over Rs1,750 (with taxes), after all. Seven “island-like” kitchen stations, spread throughout the restaurant, serve a buffet that covers a variety of cuisines including Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Indian fare. We predict only those with the steeliest of resolutions will be ordering à la carte and foregoing the spread on offer.
The restaurant sprawls around the live kitchens with seating scattered throughout the eatery. The large area is slightly confusing to navigate; the Indian non-vegetarian station, for instance, is tucked away behind a pillar. (You won’t miss much though: later in the meal we would find their mutton biryani too greasy, and the seekh kebab too dry. The freshly made kulcha, however, went well with our achaari paneer and jeera aloo.) But thanks to clever design, our meal wasn’t punctuated by kitchen noises or loud conversations – remember the decibel levels at the Frangipani or San-Qi buffets? With intimate lighting and a judicious use of screens, the eatery does a good job of creating a cosy atmosphere for diners. We were greeted by name by our server throughout the meal, and he got it wrong only the first time.
Coffee shop nibbles like kathi rolls, club sandwiches and pizzas are on the menu, as are other more filling dishes like a nasi goreng or a smoked paprika tenderloin. We abstained from ordering à la carte and hit the buffet. We started with a Peach Surrender; the cocktail, made with vodka, peach schnapps, grenadine and orange juice was too sweet and fruity.
The assortment of dim sum were served with a chilli oil and a slightly sweet sauce. The translucent parcels, stuffed with shiitake mushrooms melted in the mouth. The black pepper pork didn’t fare too well. The sushi we tried next left us with no complaints. The sushi bar also had the most flavourful miso marinated tofu we’ve had.
Our margherita pizza and spaghetti aglio olio were both made at the live stations. The pizza’s tomato sauce overwhelmed the cheese and basil. The pasta was serviceable at best. Mercifully, the portion sizes for both, were small, which encourages sampling.
The dessert selection is vast and will likely end up putting a halt to a lot of diets. A rotating ice-cream storer, an array of mini pastries, at least eight different cheeses, freshly cut fruit and a selection of hot waffles and crêpes are all on display at the entrance to the restaurant. We wish they’d paid half the attention they accorded to the quantity, as to the quality. Our tiramisu was mushy, and lacked the kick that the coffee-and-liquor-soaked cake ought to have. The two stand-out desserts were the dark chocolate crème brûlée and the raspberry dome, both of which had a rich and intense flavour.
Seven is worth the visit for seafood and Asian food lovers who will recover the price of their meal at the Japanese section alone. It did prove too expensive for a post-work dinner stop though.
It isn’t often that you have to respond to a bouncer before being allowed to proceed for dinner, but such are the perils of sharing a stairwell with Kala Ghoda’s Liv, the popular nightclub next door to Cheval. The brief hiccup was magnified at the door, where once again, we had to clarify that we were there for a meal and weren’t trying to sneak in to Liv.
Once seated inside the new European eatery, we took in our surroundings. The white, textured walls, with a black horse painted on one wall – Cheval means horse in French – put too fine a point on its name and location. But its pastel walls, exposed ceiling beams and circular light fittings give it a rustic feel.
We started with a beef carpaccio, mackerel teriyaki and a mushroom pizza. The carpaccio was served with horseradish crème fraîche, beets and Parmesan cheese. Their strong flavours overpowered the delicate, thinly sliced beef and had us wishing they hadn’t modified a classic. The teriyaki fared much better. The mackerel’s strong saltiness was showcased and paired with the slightly sweet teriyaki sauce and served with a side of pickled cucumber whose lightness of flavour was the perfect compliment to the robust fish. Our mushroom pizza came with a thin crust and a toogenerous helping of the in-house tomato sauce that overpowered the mushroom and cheese.
While waiting for our main course, we sipped on a whisky sour and a Green Asian cooler (muddled kiwi shaken with apple juice and a hint of coconut) both of which were excellent. The fresh kiwi chunks in the apple juice make for a refreshing nonalcoholic drink that I’ll be coming back for later, preferably after a walk around the area’s numerous art galleries.
Already full, we were convinced we’d be unable to finish our pomfret in parchment and pork belly served on a bed of bok choy with carrot and ginger purée. The steamed fish – not a fillet but four, long pieces – was bland and could have done with some more seasoning and lemon butter sauce. Our pork belly on the other hand, was tender and fatty, however the accompanying pork jus that could stand a little more thickening. Other than that, the beautifully plated purée and crisp bok choy were the perfect accompaniments to the pork belly.
Throughout our time there, the friendly staff kept enquiring if the meal was to our satisfaction. The attentive service and helpful recommendations (our mackerel and pork belly were suggested by the manager) bespoke a familiarity with the menu that other places in the city would do well to emulate.
To round up the meal, a tiramisu and lemon and ginger posset were ordered and demolished in quick succession. The moist and intense tiramisu was a counterpoint to the zesty posset, served with a crispy honeycomb.
With Cheval, Kala Ghoda now has an all-day restaurant where you can relax with a glass of wine. Matching neighbourhood eateries in terms of price and quality, but with a more inventive menu, tourists and citygoers alike will welcome this promising addition to the culture club.
Dim Sum House, the newest addition to the city’s burgeoning dim sum joints, is a quiet oasis in the otherwise noisy VITS hotel. The sound of cutlery and the raucous conversation among guests at the popular poolside buffet spread is, thankfully, muted within the restaurant’s calm, corridor-like confines. Instead of Chinese décor staples like giant Buddha statues and scrolls with Chinese lettering, Dim Sum House employs bamboo highlights, red lanterns and televisions screening Ong Bak 3 to set the mood.
The menu lists seven types of dim sum: wontons (steamed or fried), momos (steamed, grilled or pan-fried), crispy spring rolls, steamed rice-paper rolls, puffy Chinese buns and the crescent shaped dumplings. Each variety is available with seafood, chicken, pork or vegetable filling. To ease the pain of Sakinaka traffic, we started our dinner with the Blue Tower – a potent, effective mix of vodka, gin and blue Curacao – and orders of prawn wontons, chicken dumplings and tsun guen rolls. Service at the restaurant is cheerful but slow. This, we gathered from the wait staff scurrying in and out of the restaurant, was because all orders are prepared in the hotel’s central kitchen on the floor below.
In addition to the dumplings, the kitchen serves light broths like the seafood-tofu-spinach soup, appetisers such as the pomfret in Chinese chilli wine, and typically Bombay-Chinese starters like kung pao paneer, and salt and pepper mushrooms. The main courses are more inventive. Instead of the usual Hunan- Schezwan-Singapore gravy we’d have expected, the menu boasts of deep-fried lamb with pineapple and sweet-and-sour sauce, prawns with seasonal greens, and eggplant with hot garlic sauce – interesting but a bit of a gamble for a restaurant like this.
Our dinner at Dim Sum House was a mixed bag. The prawn wontons for instance, were crisp and crumbly parcels filled with perfectly cooked prawns, ably complemented by the six varieties of dipping sauces (try the ginger and sweet chilli) at our table. The corn salt and pepper, and the tsun guen ricepaper rolls, were also good, in a clean, crunchy kind of way. The rolls were stuffed with mildly flavoured chicken and chopped spring onions, while the corn was first steamed and then stirfried with chopped capsicum, a bit of garlic and chilli.
Unfortunately, the rest of our nibbles didn’t turn out as well. The chicken dim sum, was undercooked, the kung pao was weak, and the thread paneer that followed tasted more like a pakora than anything remotely Chinese. The main course was better. The egg fried rice wasn’t greasy and the Cantonese lemon chicken gravy was tangy, with pieces of soft, moist chicken with a faint hint of lemon zest.
Dim Sum House isn’t a recommended pit stop for Chinese visitors looking for a homely meal on their way to the airport, but the restaurant has enough going for it, to appease hotel guests and appeal to post-work punters in the area who are looking for a decent, affordable meal.
South Mumbai residents can often be heard complaining about the lack of spacious, reasonably priced watering holes in the island city. Aside from hole-in-the wall joints like Alp’s and tourist traps like Café Mondegar and Café Leopolds, they’ve had to contend with drinking at bars like Geoffrey’s and Woodside Inn, which are cheerful but fill up fast. With the opening of Irish House in Kala Ghoda, one of the those complaints has been addressed. Irish House is big. It has a massive bar with enough room to order drinks jostle-free, a sit-down area that they claim can seat 150 customers, and still have more room for people to mill around. But having so much square-footage at hand, comes with it’s share of pitfalls. The place never seems to fill up. On the weeknight we visited, it was sparsely populated with about 30 people, most of whom were sitting around the bar. It fares a lot better on weekends, but even when the place is filled with the hum of numerous conversations, it doesn’t seem full enough to create a buzz. The only part of the Irish House that requires rubbing elbows with strangers is the tiny smoking room, which is hidden away behind the bar. The music – too loud for conversation of any kind – meant we had to resort to sign language to order our drinks from the wellstocked bar. The Jameson Sperm (a steal at R480 compared to R500 for the imported beers), a potent mix of whiskey with orange and pink grapefruit juice, went down easy, despite its off-putting name. The Open Sesame (made with bourbon) on the other hand tasted too much like the canned pineapple juice it was made of. Like the menu, the decor too, resembles the outlet at High Street Phoenix. There are parrotgreen and exposed brick walls, plenty of wooden fixtures, and wooden frames with beer-related memorabilia and quotes. The dark wood and low lights give the pub a feeling of heaviness, a shame considering its high ceilings. With a giant screen dominating one wall and multiple televisions tuned to sports channels scattered throughout, Irish House looks like a sports bar. But the playlist, filled with cheesy house music, seems like a ploy to draw in the shot-downing, party crowd. It’s the same identity crisis that its Lower Parel counterpart suffers from. Strangely, this something-foreveryone approach worked with the mall crowd. Judging from the last few weeks, its seems to be working its magic on the South Mumbai folk as well.
Expectations have been high for the return of Café Sundance. The old establishment, with its fussfree atmosphere, unpretentious food and turtle-shaped burgers, was one of the first real cafés in the city. A place for college kids to hang out, young professionals to grab a beer after work, and for Parsi families to dine on chicken stroganoff. It is now run by the people behind Worli’s Two One Two Bar and Grill.
Café Sundance will soon open for breakfast with a menu of pancakes, eggs Benedict and masala chicken bhurji (priced at a whopping R285). At the moment, however, they open at noon, though their breakfast menu is available till 4pm. Through the day, the kitchen serves barbecue wings, burgers, linguini tossed in carbonara sauce and a long list of thin-crust pizzas. The menu seems to have borrowed heavily from its expensive Worli counterpart though the prices are (slightly) more affordable.
Our plate of tacos (we expected more than four for R375) was wellcooked but the chopped tomatoes (without any dressing) that the meat was garnished with, gave the dish an unfinished feel. The Caesar salad, though a tad overdressed, would make for a nice lunch with a glass of white wine.
Sundance is more of a daytime place. With its cream walls, bleached-wood tables and chairs and large windows that overlook the street outside, it would be a nice, sunny spot for an indulgent breakfast or lazy lunch. When we visited late on a Sunday night, we noticed families around us pondering over Sundance’s large newspaper-format menu and chuckling over the exploits of Jughead, Dilton and Big Moose from the comics lying around the restaurant. The comics aren’t the only nostalgic touches at Sundance – there’s a wall of curios that include a weathered typewriter, a beautiful carousel set and a 1950s-style radio.
The food, however, is firmly rooted in the present. Their potent white wine sangria (it packs a shot of honey-flavoured whisky), served with diced apples and oranges, makes for a stiff drink. The pizza had a crisp base but needed more cheese to hit the comfort spot (it was also missing the promised asparagus) while the aglio olio angel hair pasta was perfectly cooked but drowned in butter. The burgers fared much better. The potato and portobello mushroom patty was packed with flavour while the beef burger, cooked medium (they don’t do rare), was juicy and well-seasoned. Most of the cafe’s food hovers above average but with a little attention, it could get back on track.
As someone who listens to a music and a compulsive list maker it seems only right that I end the year with my Albums of the Year. Hope you find your favorites as well as something new to tide you into the new year.
“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I said, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.”—
It all began with Ferran Adria in more ways than one. It was because he reached out to me in 2001, invited me to come see him (in spite of the fact that I had written unflatteringly of him in Kitchen Confidential) that my partnership with zero point zero productionbegan. It was because he…
I’m pretty sure Feist and St. Vincent are going to have an epic battle during the later half of the year for best female vocal release of the year (Tune-Yards is another contender). Here’s the catchy first single