30 August 2014

Friday Spa Buffet Lunch at Out of the Blue, Bandra

I've eaten a dozen meals or so, at Out of the Blue (OofTB). I think they were one of the first few places to serve Italian-Continental fare in Bandra. Situated a stone's throw away from where I stay. I used to return for their sizzlers which were perfectly sized and priced. I was back at the restaurant after a while, to try their Friday Spa Buffet Lunch. (Shameless Plug-In: Read about my previous wine tasting experience at OofTB here).

OofTB does two weekday buffet lunches: Women's Wednesday Buffet Lunch and Friday Spa Buffet Lunch. Both are fairly reasonably priced at Rs. 395 + taxes and Rs. 495 + taxes, respectively. Mom and I decided to check the lunch buffet out, and pamper ourselves on occasion of Ganesh Chaturti (and the fact that it was a bank holiday). 

The buffet is fairly extensive with your usual suspects: appetizers, soup, salads, dips, breads, mains, desserts and even a Make-Your-Own-BBQ section in the menu. I was looking forward to getting a hand/foot massage while I ate, but the restaurant was undergoing some renovation the day we visited, so we couldn't.

I love the outdoor section, with canopy covered booths, natural lighting, and a white grecian look. We sat indoors, which has more of a lounge like feel.

Cat In the Window
We sipped on the complimentary sparkling wine and a decent Virgin Amla Mojito, and made our way through the bread basket which had the most lovely olive focaccia. Repeat orders of the focaccia were placed, and gobbled up with the Carrot and Walnut Dip. (I skipped soup because I strongly believe it's only flavoured water that fills up your stomach space). 

Virgin Amla Mojito and the Wine Display

Breads and Dips
We started off with the appetizers which had a customary Spicy Grilled Basa, with an outer green coating, reminiscent of a Paatra Ni Machi. Fiery Jumbo Prawns and an average Cajun Chicken were next. The Spicy Cottage Cheese Fry lacked spice. The stars were the two Chindian starters: Red Eye Chicken and a Crispy Baby Corn which was the surprising winner. If you enjoy spicy, batter fried veggies/meat in Chinese sauces, you'll enjoy these.

Spicy Grilled Basa & Fiery Jumbo Prawns

Spicy Cottage Cheese Fry & Crispy Baby Corn

Red Eye Chicken & Cajun Chicken
For the mains, they have a 'Make-Your-Own-BBQ' where you can choose your protein, sauce and add a side to the dish. Or you can be lazy like me, and choose from their existing suggestions. We had a 'Banana Leaf Wrapped Basa with Stir Fried Veggies.' The basa being well flavoured, was a bit overcooked. The herbed rice on the side was delicious, however.

Banana Leaf Wrapped Basa
 The highlight of my lunch was the 'Organic Mix Veg Lasagna'. I dont know what made me order a vegetarian lasagna in the first place, because lasagna's all about the meat. But I'm sure glad I did! Layers of my favourite veggies: carrots, beans, babycorn, zucchini alternated with pasta and tomato sauce. (I wish they had put in mushrooms too). And came with molten cheese at the bottom of the dish. 

Organic Mix Veg Lasagna

 Desserts were an equal hit and miss. There was the Chocolate Mousse that needed more chocolate and an average Cream Tart. They were compensated by an old school Chocolate cake, that reminded me of the ones I used to cut on birthdays as a kid. The lemon panna cotta was delicious, where the sweetness of the custard was contrasted with the acidic lime. 

Dessert Selection
Overall, OofTB does a decent lunch buffet. It does have a couple of minuses but that gets overshadowed by the positives. I think the buffet works because of the variety of food that is covered in the price point. For Rs. 495/- + tax (roughly about Rs. 622/-) in an a la carte setting you would barely be able to order two-three dishes at a moderately priced restaurant. Here, you get to binge on a lot more. If buffets are your scene, and you are looking for one that is paisa vasool then go for this. But do not go expecting gourmet, fancy food or you'll be disappointed. There's just comfort food and old favorites here!

24 August 2014

Time Travel at Gaylord Restaurant

Surviving through Mumbai's cut-throat restaurant scene is no easy task. I see old restaurants shutting down and new ones cropping up left, right, and center. It's sad that many old classics had to shutter shop due to inflation and being unable to keep up with changing times. Thank god, for a few old classics that still remain. Everytime one visits them, it is like a little taste in history. Gaylord Restaurant in Churchgate, is one of them!

My visit to Gaylord restaurant was deep rooted in nostalgia. Established and running from the late 1950's, stepping inside Gaylord is like time travel. It is where my father hung out with his friends post college, it is where he took my mother on dates during their courtship phase, and it is still his go-to place when he's in that part of town. They were one of the few places to serve continental food along with regular Mughlai fare during that time. And their bakery continues to dole out some of the yummiest pastries, cakes, pies and more.

I don't think much has changed since then. The same vintage garden chairs, long sofas and bright chandeliers make up most of the space. The same bakery stands tall next door, with the same aroma of baking bread wafting through. The same menu with the classic favourites such as Lobster Thermidore and Chicken A La Kiev. The same wait staff who have been serving there since years. The same smiling manager, Mr. Noel D'Souza who has been working there since 1987. The same chefs who have been cooking the same recipes since decades now. Which is why the food you eat today tastes just like it did years ago.

I wondered why a restaurant such as Gaylord would want to have a bloggers table? They sure don't need any publicity, considering how packed the restaurant was on Friday evening. It is commendable that they want to keep up with current trends by having social media presence. 

My dad sent me prepared with a list of mains and desserts that I need to order. The staff at Gaylord did the work for us by creating a special pre-decided set menu focusing some of their favourites. I was disappointed that dad's favourite Chicken A La Kiev wasn't on the list. Nevertheless, it gives me a chance to go back with him to gobble that one up.

I sipped on my refreshing Pina Colada while we waited for the food to be served. The Chicken Cutlets were extremely flavourful, finely minced cutlets. So light and delicious, we could eat half a dozen each. The Bharwan Aloo or stuffed potato was my favourite appetizer. Tiny, jacket potatoes which were scooped out and stuffed with soft paneer fillings. The Lahori Fish Tikka fell flat comparatively.

Pina Colada

Bharwan Aloo

Lahori Fish Tikka

Chicken Cutlets
We also ate some old, classics such as the Waldorf Salad, and the Prawn Cocktail. Both were doused in cream and slightly on the sweeter side, but tasty nevertheless. Warning: Two spoonfuls can fill you up!

Waldorf Salad

The French Onion Soup was something I was waiting for, but it did not turn out the way I expected. I expected a creamy, onion-y, cheese laden soup, but instead I got which was watery. It did not have that layer of cheese that usually comes atop. Bursting the egg yolk hidden within added flavour however. The Chicken consomme, though less prettier than her counterpart was filled with chicken flavour. Perfect chicken soup for when you're sick or when it's raining outside. I also loved the old school cutlery they served our soup in.

French Onion Soup
We took a break from all the eating to take a tour of the restaurant and bakery. We were greeted by the smiling 87 year old CEO and former partner of the restaurant Mr. A.N. Malhotra. The bakery creates some delicious cakes, breads and desserts like the fondant cake in the picture below.

Group Picture with Mr. Malhotra

Custom Made Fondant Cake
Loaf-ley Picture
Now focusing back to the mains that were waiting for us. The Pomfret Meuniere was a batter fried fish and topped with lemon butter sauce. I wish it had more of the sauce, or a side serving of sauce to pour onto the fish. The Roast Chicken Bacon was traditional roast chicken and bacon served on the side. The bacon could've been more crispy, but I enjoyed the chicken. 

Roast Chicken Bacon

Pomfret Meuniere
 The Mughlai dishes suprisingly fared better. The Kheema Nalli Gosht had both the mince and the mutton well done. Tender meat that fell right off the bone and spicy kheema made this a lovely dish paired with naan. The Murg Makhani was made just as the masses like it: tomato, cream based gravy and slightly on the sweeter side. The surprise dish of the night was the Lasooni Palak. Unappetizing to look at, but boy did it taste good! Smooth, creamy spinach with garlic undertones, was my repeat order dish of the evening.

Murg Makhani

Kheema Nalli Gosht
With barely any stomach space left, we still made our way towards the final dessert course. I skipped the Poached Pears in Spiced Wine, and I was glad I did. Because it was too strong on the wine. And because the other two desserts were stars. The Crunchy Raspberry-Chocolate Mousse was a thick dense chocolate mousse with a raspberry aftertaste, which came because of the use of raspberry syrup. I loved the crunchy biscuit base on which the mousse sat.

Crunchy Raspberry- Chocolate Mousse
 We discussed how difficult is to get Caramel Custard right through the course of our meal, and swapped custard recipes. The custard here was going to be the ultimate test. The custard was perfect! Not too dense or too airy. Perfectly wobbly on your spoon. Not as sweet as most caramel custards are made nowadays. 

Caramel Custard
 At the end of the meal, not only were our stomachs satiated, but also our hearts. Such wonderful hospitality and good food, made this an evening that I'm going to remember for a long, long time. My dad and I need to make a trip back there soon. No wonder they say, 'Old is Gold'.

Gaylord Restaurant, Mayfair Building, V.N. Road, Churchgate, Mumbai.
Phone: 022 22044693, 022 22821259.

23 August 2014

#PatetiPopUp with Bawi Bride

Parsi New Year or Navroze is a day of family, merriment, new clothes and delicious food. I rarely get to eat Parsi food myself, so I eagerly wait for occasion such as these, because I know my dear friend and fellow foodie Perzen aka Bawi Bride will throw open the doors of her home and feed us! I'm a fan of her cooking since she started her blog and catering kitchen. She makes the yummiest, homely, hearty Parsi food. Read about my previous experiences with Bawi Bride's Bhonu here and here.

It was #PatetiPopUp time! A bunch of us food bloggers, food writers and food lovers gathered at her home to celebrate Pateti and bring in the new year. The menu sounded delicious- Shirinbai's Cheese Eeda Cutlets, Saas ni Prawns, Shehenshahi Pulao and Perzen's signature Chocolate Mousse.

The Cheese- Eeda cutlets come with a lovely back story attached, that I am far too sentimental about. The cutlets stuffed with egg and gooey cheese, are best had hot! My paternal grandmother came up with the recipe, and stuffed me with them everytime I went to visit her during summer vacations. I would eat these cutlets for all three meals of the day, and still want more. She has been unable to make them for me due to age and other health issues. The last time I visited I managed to extract her signature recipe from this tiny brown paper covered note book, filled with her recipes which she scribbled in Gujarati half a century ago. 

The ultimate taste test this was, to see if Bawi Bride could replicate my grandmother Shirinbai's recipe. And I can happily say, and they tasted just like how my granny made them. Cheesy, eggy, and filled with love. I became a kid again, as I bit into those cutlets. 

Shirinbai's Cheese Eeda na Cutlets
Saas ni Prawns was a twist on the classic, Parsi dish- Saas ni Macchi. The saas (sauce) is a sweet-spicy gravy which usually is cooked with pomfret fish, and served at most weddings. The prawns were an interesting twist, and this was the first time I had the 'saas' with prawns. Usually had with khichdi or rice, we dug into this with rotis instead.


 The Shehenshahi Kheema Pulao, was a star! Layers of different elements: kheema, rice, dry fruits, egg, fried onions, made it fit for a Shehenshah indeed.The different contrasts of textures and flavours made this one interesting dish.

Shehenshahi Kheema Pulao
She saved the best for last! I'm a fan of the dense, creamy and chocolatey mousse so much, I could eat a tub-full.

Chocolate Mousse
All in all, there could've been no better start to the New Years. Navroze Mubarak indeed! May everyone's lives be filled with happiness, cheer and good food.

17 August 2014

Finding (and Eating) Nemo

Just off the Bandra-Worli sea link, inside a small, little lane entering Worli village lies this bright, cheery yellow bungalow. The most nondescript location for what was going to turn out to be one of the most crazy, foodie evenings I would experience. 

Cafe Nemo, is one of the newest entrants in the city's food scene and has been generating quite a buzz. Housed inside this yellow bungalow, (which was previously occupied by Cool Chef Cafe), Cafe Nemo serves up an interesting menu leaning towards an Asian influence. 

That evening it was the venue for the Pet Pujaris monthly 'Fatka'. The Pet Pujaris is a wonderful initiative where you get to meet up with a bunch of like minded foodies twice a month for their pricier 'Fatka' at the start of the month and/or the budgeted 'Kadka' during the months end. Find out more about them on their Facebook page here.

The place is done up in the cheeriest, bright yellow and black. Three huge rooms to dine in, and a huge bar make the place very spacious. So you're not bumping elbows with the diner next to you. I  particularly loved the al fresco section done up in potted plants. I can only imagine how pretty the entire area would look during the day. The vibe totally makes it a place to visit for Sunday brunch or a 'Date Night'.

My Favourite Space at Cafe Nemo

Cafe Nemo's menu serves up appetizers, bao buns, small and large plates, rice bowls and a specially created cocktail menu. I started the night with their signature 'Zucchini By The Sea' cocktail which had fresh zucchini juice, sea salt and vodka. This is a subtle, simple cocktail. Not to be opted for if you like your cocktails sugary. The next one I tried- 'Mick Jaggery' had vodka, jaggery, lemongrass and the moves like Jagger. I loved the use of jaggery in the cocktail, and this one was the unanimous favourite of the night. The signature cocktails come with a twist on classics such as using Thai chilli in the 'Thai Bloody Mary' or a Tom Yum inspired cocktail called 'Tom Yummy'.

Mick Jaggery
Do try the steamed Bao Buns at Cafe Nemo. They do a mean, finger licking good Char Sui Pork Bao. The Beef Bulgogi and Panang Chicken Bao were decent comparatively. Special mention to the crunchy wafers served alongside.

Beef Bulgogi Bao
Panang Chicken Bao
Both the 'Tofu and Shiitake' and the 'Chicken and Napa Cabbage' Gyoza came with the softest outer coating. I preferred the vegetarian mushroom-tofu version to the blander chicken-cabbage one.

Tofu- Shiitake Gyoza
Chicken-Napa Cabbage Gyoza
The non-Asian influenced items felt out of place on the menu. The 'Loaded Black Bean Dip' with tortilla chips were just as good as what you'd get at any Tex-Mex restaurant. I wished it had more guacamole and sour cream on top though. The 'Soft Shell Tacos with Adobo Pork' is a definite repeat order dish. Three mini tacos that fit in your mouth, stuffed with sour cream, pork and pico de gallo. 

Soft Shelled Tacos with Adobo Pork

Loaded Black Bean Dip with Tortilla Chips
The 'Korean Fried Chicken' tasted like any other fried chicken you may get. The spicy celery and soy on the side made it stand out. The 'Tenderloin Tartare' had well done, well spiced meat, but the nori crisps on which it came acted like a bit of a damp squib.

Korean Fried Chicken

Tenderloin Tartare
The 'Crispy Bacon and Gochujang' Pizza was well flavoured with the Korean condiment but I wished it had more bacon. I got one thin strip on my slice which wasn't enough for a bacon lover like me. The less adventurous opt for the 'Thick Cut Pepperoni' pizza. They were quite generous with the meat topping on this one.

Crispy Bacon and Gochujang Pizza

Thick Cut Pepperoni Pizza
For the mains we had the 'Steamed Bekti' with tamari, ginger, shiitake and cellophane noodles. The fish was very well done but the soy broth was overpowering. They do another version served with sambal instead which I am going back for, since the fish was so well cooked. The 'Tenderloin Timpano' with beef bolognaise and macaroni is conceptually a brilliant dish and comes presented pretty as a picture! But the bolognaise was not as meaty or tomato filled as we've come to know.

Steamed Bekti

Tenderloin Timpano
The unanimous pick of all the mains was the 'Seoul Bowl'. Its a hearty bowl of sticky rice, greens, peanuts for the crunch, and the Chef's secret sauce. Ours came with a flavourful char sui pork.

Seoul Bowl
Dessert started off with 'Mocha Profiteroles' which were perfect to pop in your mouth on the way out but similar to profiteroles you would find anywhere else. The 'Orange and Clove Cake' served warm reminded me of this Orange cake my Catholic neighbor would bake for us on Christmas. It tastes homely, delicious and works if you're a fan of both orange and clove. The 'Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme' was the winner by a huge margin. Decadent, gooey, dense chocolate that came in a pot served with an almond biscotti, it is the perfect dessert to be shared by a group.

Dark Chocolate Pot de Creme

Orange and Clove Cake
Mocha Profiteroles
Overall, Cafe Nemo rustles up some delicious food, unlike your typical Pan Asian fare. This is global cuisine with an Asian twist. Would I return back? Yes! For a drink and the appetizers. And the experience of dining inside that cheery, yellow bungalow once again. They're open from noon to 1.30 am at night, so you can even visit during the day for a coffee and a Bao to go alongside. Nemo was indeed found!

Contact: Cafe Nemo, Thadani House, 329/A, Worli Village, Opposite Indian Coast Guard, Worli.
Phone:  022 2430 1127, 022 2437 9841

Note: The meal was paid for by the reviewer courtesy the Pet Pujaris Fatka. Rs. 1500/- for unlimited food and two drinks off the menu. It was an absolute paisa vasool deal.