Thursday, August 30, 2012

Food Review: Grain & Bagel, Malad (W)

Will you swim through the murkiest of Mumbai’s puddles to have your breakfast? I did just that (well, almost) on a rainy day to grab her brekka at Grain & Bagel.

I have said it time and again that nothing can keep me away from my breakfast, not even the over enthusiastic Rain Gods. So, when the Mumbai showers were at their best a couple of days ago, I along with a fellow breakfast lover headed to the newest eatery in Malad (W); Grain & Bagel. It’s tucked behind the new Infiniti Mall in the midst of corporate offices.

We entered an empty café at 9.30 in the morning; clearly Malad folks haven’t warmed up to the idea of going out for breakfast yet. A couple of sleepy waiters greeted us and got a little attentive as they saw us walking in. The café has an indoor and an outdoor seating area. We chose the open air one since it was raining and keechad-feechad aside, we love Mumbai’s rains. Despite being located around near Mindspace which is famous for its foul smell, the cafe wasn’t affected by it at all. There’s not much of a view but being located off Link Road the café keeps you away from the traffic snarls. The management has added a nice touch by posting colourful post-its with customer feedback on a pillar.

By the way it’s a self service café, so don’t go plonk yourselves expecting someone to come around to take your order. Decide, order, sit. Got it? Lifting ourselves off the chairs and walking up to the payment counter for every order was too much to ask from us especially given the lack of food in our systems. However, if you tell the guy on the counter that you’ll be ordering more, he’ll keep the bill on hold and will save you the agony.

The breakfast menu includes a mix of pancakes, crepes, eggs, bagels and sandwiches. They also serve risotto, lasagne, pasta and more if you plan to go there for lunch. We stuck to the breakfast menu and ordered a peanut butter and cinnamon pancake with apple syrup (Rs 120) and pesto scrambled eggs with spinach and ripe tomatoes topped with melted feta (Rs 120). The obvious choice of drink was coffee but we were shattered to know that they weren’t serving it (it should be illegal, shouldn’t it?). Our broken hearts were comforted a little with the hot chocolate that accompanied the scrambled eggs. If you can’t live without coffee do check if they’ve started serving it before you make breakfast plans.

Our breakfast arrived in no time and full marks to the staff for that. The pancakes were soft and fluffy and had a hint of peanut butter in them. But I couldn’t taste the cinnamon at all. The scrambled eggs were served with a toast, no butter and no ripe tomatoes. Still, we weren’t disappointed and loved our eggs. There was a subtle flavour of pesto and bits of spinach. We would’ve been happier if there was more feta on top. The hot chocolate felt good on a cold rainy day. On hot days you can opt for a cold chocolate shake with your eggs.

Realizing that the hungry monster within us won’t be satisfied with just too dishes, we went for a make-your-own bagel sandwich. The guy on the live bagel counter fixed us a quick one with rye bread, veggies, smoked chicken and sauces (Rs 198). The sandwich was filling and reminded us ofSubWay. Post our breakfast we browsed through the dessert counter and picked the Gourmet Cupcake (Rs 75). It had beautiful, light frosting and the cake tasted somewhat like a mawa cake which was brilliant given the frosting was ‘oh! so sweet’. We also picked some for our less privileged colleagues in office.

Grain & Bagel is a welcome change to the Goregaon-Malad area which lacks a decent breakfast joint. But they do have their work cut out for them.. and yes, they have to start serving coffee.

Kharcha: Rs 700 + taxes for breakfast

On the burp scale: 3.5/5

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Food Review: Hakkasan, Bandra

When a restaurant of a certain repute invites a bunch of food writers/bloggers for dinner it is expected that the management put their best foot forward, be it service or food. With a similar expectation I went to Hakkasan last week to try out their new weekday lunch menu.

We were greeted by a well dressed girl at the entrance which got me wondering if I'll be denied entry because of my jeans and not so formal top. Thankfully, I wasn't. The restaurant which had strict dress code till a while back has loosened up a bit and you can walk-in wearing your denims if not shorts. We walked through a small gallery into a dimly lit dining area which has a bar attached to it. The ambiance is beautiful with comfortable seating. They also have separate dining booths where one can have a private meal. There's a bigger dining hall on the other end of the gallery which can also be converted into an open-air section by opening the roof.

We sat at the bar which is assorted with a range of Indian and International brands of alcohol. They also have a notable wine list. A set menu was given to us and I decided to order a couple of cocktails since they were highly recommended by the PR person. We ordered a Kumquat Mojito and a Hakkatini; both quite average in their taste as well as presentation. Mojito had more ice in it and got over after a couple of sips while Hakkatini tasted like a blend of vodka and mosambi juice. Well, a bit disappointed we ordered for another round of drinks, Bitter Fortune and Polmos Cooler this time. Bitter fortune was a concoction made of gin, grapefruit juice, aperol bitter and lime. It tasted very bitter initially but after a couple of sips I enjoyed the taste. Polmos Juice; citrus vodka, peach liquor, pressed apple juice and passion fruit had a very forgettable taste.

The starters came in with our second round of drinks. We were served a range of dimsum namely edamame, chive, chicken and prawns, prawns, vegetable etc. The only ones to stand out among these were edamame and chicken n prawns. Rest of them tasted good only with the oyster sauce. We also tried their radish puff which tasted like samosas stuffed with bland, grated radish and Chicken Sesame ball which looked inviting but as I cut through it was hollow from the inside and rarely had any chicken.

If the starters weren't disappointing enough they went a step further and made it worse with their main course. This brings me to my question; will you ever spend an exorbitant amount of money to eat hakka noodles and spring onion and egg fried rice? I wouldn't cause I can eat that at my neighborhood Chinese restaurant or better still make it at home. And the taste will still be better than what we were served at Hakkasan. To accompany the rice and noodles there was Sanpet chicken claypot, Thai style crispy chicken, Steamed rawas in homemade chilli sauce (good sauce but under-cooked fish), stir fried tofu a ndCrispy aubergine and okra. I am a kind of person who remembers the taste of good food but frankly I don't remember the taste of any of these dishes at Hakkasan.

The evening soon turned into a fine example of Murphy's Law and even the desserts couldn't save it. The lemongrass-vanilla creme brulee and chocolate mousse granita were left untouched. However, the selection of ice-creams was good.

The co-diners who have visited Hakkasan before told me that the food here is generally good. Their duck preparations are "out of this world". I would love to think that the menu they prepared for us was not right but this is what I ate and this is what I am supposed to write about. To sum it up in one line, I wasn't impressed.

P.S. - I observed another odd thing about the restaurant. When I went to use the washroom an attendant opened the door (of the loo) for me. Opened it again as I stepped out and handed me a paper towel when I was done washing my hands. If that wasn't creepy enough she stood there watching me wipe my hands and also offered to throw the towel in the waste-bin, an offer I politely refused.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bloggers' Meet at Corniche, Bandra

Since past couple of times the idea of meeting my Blogger friends excites me more than experiencing or eating at a new place. The food adds to the great conversations. Something similar happened when we all received an invitation from Corniche in Bandra. Tweets and mail were exchanged asking about who will and wouldn't be coming. The timing was a little odd, 5.30 in the evening and this was the first meet which had an end time to it, 7.30pm. But the pleasure of meeting friends is so big that one tends to ignore such crucial details, so did I. So on a working Saturday I left work a little early and reached Corniche which wasn't too difficult to locate given that it's adjacent to the famous CCD at Carter Road.

The usually open-air restaurant was covered due to the monsoons and was practically on the sea-side. Although once seated the sea was hardly visible. Ashrita was already there and as we sat and chatted Gaurav, Shivani, Reema, Amrita and Sunayan also came in. Once we were all there the PR team at Corniche introduced us to the Chef who was going to LIVE cook a couple of dishes for us. We were given a list of ingredients (note: just ingredients and not the recipes). The idea was to cook with fresh ingredients using less oil and make the food more easy to digest.

The Chef started with a Wild Mushroom Soup which filled the air with a beautiful aroma. so much so that we couldn't wait to taste it. He then followed it with a Greek Salad, Tangerine Chicken, Risotto and Bacon Pasta. We also kept asking questions while he taught us those recipes.

Once the dishes were made and we clicked enough pictures to fill our posts it was time to taste the food. The wild mushroom soup was creamy and yet light. I am not too fond of creamy soups but I wipe the bowl clean and could have happily gone for a second serving. The salad too was fresh with crunchy lettuce and tangy dressing. Only issue was that none of us got even a single piece of feta cheese in it.

Next came Tangerine Chicken which despite being marinated in orange juice was not juicy enough. While there was enough flavour outside there was hardly any when we bit into it. Risotto was good but had too big chunks of chicken. To make the matter worse they were also under-cooked. The bacon pasta which I was looking forward to turned out great. Sweet and tangy tomato sauce with a mild garlic flavour; just how I like my pasta. But the bacon too like feta cheese was barely there.

While the food was okay it was the organization that was more disappointing. The four vegetarian bloggers weren't given a choice of ordering from their regular menu. Hence they survived on soup and a small bowl of salad. The portions we were served were also measly. The unceremonious end to the meet left us feeling odd and unwanted. And, to our surprise the meet ended at 7.30pm sharp (how accurate). Realizing that there will not be an offer to try the desserts we moved towards Out Of The Blue to have their famous Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondue and give a perfect ending to the not so perfect evening.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...