1. Restaurant Review - Between Breads

    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. 

    This review first appeared in Time Out Mumbai

     

  2. Restaurant Review - Le 15 Pâtisserie

    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. 

    This review first appeared in Time Out Mumbai

     

  3. Restaurant Review - Singkong

    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. 

    This review first appeared in Time Out Mumbai

     

  4. Restaurant Review - The Pier

    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.

    This review first appeared in Time Out Mumbai

     

  5. Homebrew

    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 Shop Anand Villa, 13 Pali Mala Road, Bandra (W) (+91 22 2605 0178). Daily 8am-10pm. All major cards. From R80.

    Ellipsis Amarchand 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 Café 10 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.  

     
  6. thepornographywasteland:

    A Met Gala love story.

    (Source: rihannasdisciple)

     
  7. Can we talk about this absolutely adorable photo of everyone’s favourite French foursome (image by Nathaniel Wood for  at Coachella 2013)

     

  8. My 10 Best National Songs

    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.

    10. Daughters of  the Soho Riots

    9. Lit Up

    8. Lucky You

    7. Conversation 16

    6. All the Wine

    5. Little Faith

    4.Slow Show

    3. So Far Around the Bend

    2. Fake Empire

    1.  The Geese of Beverly Road

     

  9. So Many Places, So Little Time - Teaze

    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. 

    This review first appeared in Time Out Mumbai

     

  10. Restaurant Review - Skky

    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.

    This review first appeared in Time Out Mumbai