Friday, October 24, 2014

Aqaba, new kid on the Lower Parel dining scene

I am a HUGE fan of Mediterranean food and hence jumped on the first opportunity to go to Aqaba.

High-ceiling- spacious - white, blue and tan interiors - 3D butterflies on the walls and those magical white trees.

Walking into Aqaba was a visual delight, though not very middle east looking. 

Located at Peninsula business park, it was the perfect choice for our team outing. 12 hungry people!

We ordered a lil bit of everything and here's my take on it:

  - smoked minestrone soup: smoked to perfection it was flavourful

Minestrone Soup!
- chicken shorba: hearty and packed with goodbess

- rasberry slush: i'm not too fond of slush abd i found it a bit too sweet

- hummus and pita bread: hummus was awesome, pita was fresh

- greek salad: yum!

- watermelon and feta salad: served in a bowl rather than a mound, it could do with a bit more cheese

- chicken shish taouk: cooked to perfection and served with generous amount of veggies

Shish taouk
- stuffed grilled bell peppers: looked delicious but didn't get to try

- chicken gyro: needed a bit more tzatziki sauce but the paprika sprinkled fries by the side won my heart

Gyro, though less on sauce, was my fav!

- mediterranian pizza: yes, it had hummus, tomatoes, olives and i loved it

Note - Hummus on pizza!

- greek pizza: again a must have for the burst of flavours

- spinach and ricotta ravioli: ravioli was a bit doughy for my liking but the sauce was perfect

- pink sauce pasta: passable

- baked cheesecake: served with blueberry sauce, its melt in the mouth

Cheesecake to die for!

Cheesecake close-ups!
- tiramisu: i've had much better

- chocolate fondant: brilliant and the only chocolate dish on the menu

- rose petal ice cream: subtle in flavour

Not much of a rose fan
The staff was friendly. Prices are a bit on the higher side (about 1350 pp without alcohol). But i would love to go here again for dinner when the magical trees are lit up!

#1. Go here in a large group to make to most of their extensive menu!
#2. Don't be lost.  Aqaba is located at Peninsula Business park - which is a newly opened office complex and not Peninsula Corporate Park. Both of these flank the main road!

Read all me reviewes here

Monday, April 22, 2013

Trader's Vic Mai Tai, Bar and Lounge

I have a tendency to look up restaurants on burrp or zomato before I try them.  So when my friend told me she wanted to go to ‘Mai Tai at Phoenix Mills’ for dinner, I googled the place with little headway [well, I was googling for Mai Thai :P].  When I asked her about the cuisine, she also wasn’t sure, so I just decided to tag along.
Mai Tai!!
Owned by the company that runs Hard Rock café and CPK, Mai Tai is located bang opposite PVR at Phoenix Mills.  They opened shop in Mumbai a couple of months back bringing in the Trader’s Vic Polynesian themed restaurant to India.

The Central Kitchen

Mai Tai is essentially an open restaurant done up with sculptures and carvings and plants as props in line with the Tiki culture.  The lighting at Mai Tai is dim, bordering on wild romantic.  The choice of seating essentially comprises of standard table/ chairs or low tables with sofa (perfect for a group!).  The music they play has Caribbean and spanish influences.  The whole ambiance is classy, yet cozy.

Sculpture, true to Tiki culture
Low sofa seating
I was pleasantly surprised to take in the décor and read about the history of Mai Tai (named after a cocktail invented in 1944!)in the Menu cards.  It is hard to categorize their fare under any particular cuisine.  Though the menu here is small, all the dishes that they serve are unique and speaks volumes for the zest to offer innovative dishes.  The drinks menu was even more fun to read!  Not only do the cocktails have jazzy names, they even have some inventive combinations , some even served out of communal bowls complete with a long stray for a couple or a group of friends to sip from!

Story of Mai tai
The Menu!
We were a group of 5 and hence chose the low sofa seating.   The staff was quick to cater to us and made good recommendations.  Our order comprised of a cocktail called Singapore Symphony (lime, pineapple, passion fruit, rum and gin), two portions of baked spinach and potato dip (starter), one portion of huli huli chicken (starter), one portion of grilled senor pico chicken (main course), two portions of Mai Tai island burger  and one coffee crème brulee.


Singapore Symphony
Singapore Symphony was served in a largish bowl.  The cocktail had a strong punch of rum, yet the sublime tropical flavours of pineapple and passion fruit.  I couldn't taste much of lime though.  If I overlook the fact that the cocktail had too much ice, it was what I could call perfect and a good recommendation by the staff!

Starters (or small plates as they called it!)

Baked Spinach and potato dip
The baked spinach and potato dip was served in a shallow plate with Parmesan crusted bread and pita bread by the side.  It was smooth and creamy.  The flavours were light, yet had hints of garlic and spinach.  

Huli Huli chicken
Huli Huli chicken was essentially chicken on skewers in a sweet sauce served with a small portion of salad.  While the chicken was tender, overall, I found the sauce a too sweet for my palette.


Mai Tai Island Burger
The burger was medium sized and served with a dip and generous helping of spicy fries.  The patty in the burger was succulent, the sauce added to the flavour.   The dip wasn't very grand and the fries (though good) were not as good as peri-peri fries served at Mc Donald’s!  

Grilled Senor Pico Chicken
Senor Pico Chicken comprised of two breast pieces of chicken served to perfection with rice, potato wedges and a brown sauce (choice of 2 out of 5 accompaniments available).  The dish was well presented/ plated but compared to the burger, the taste wasn't as wow. 


Creme Bulee
The dessert menu is sparse, not much choice if you rule of desserts containing chocolate and/or coconut.  Being a sucker for coffee, I really enjoyed coffee crème brulee, though my friends could do with a weaker coffee taste in the dessert.             


The dinner cost us INR 3450/- (including taxes and charges) ie about 700 per person.  Though a bit steep, but it makes up for it by the awesome ambiance and the unique food/ drinks they offer.  Definitely would rate it higher than other similarly priced restaurants.

Happy people!

I could easily go here again (mind you, I don’t like repeating places much) and try out some other cocktail and grilled lime basa (which the staff strongly recommended)!!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Big Chill, Select City Mall, Saket, New Delhi

I have heard a lot of good things about Big Chill and obviously that's where I wanted to eat while I was in Delhi over a weekend.

This outlet of Big Chill is built over two floors.  While the ground floor is narrower and has no seating area,  the first floor seats guests and usually has waiting.  

The ground floor houses the kitchen and displays the baked delicacies one can order!  The interiors are done up in warm wood colour and jazzed up by movie payers and hand written menu on a blackboard!

We didn't wanna wait and hence settled for the first available place - seating space on the ground floor built under the escalator!  This compact space has 4 tables and offers little privacy,  but then again we didn't want any privacy! 

The staff is quick in handing out the huge card board menu cards, partly out of the hospitality they offer or mostly out of ensuring quick service and hence faster turn around time at the table!  What ever the reasons,  we were happy!

Armed with the menu card began the tough task of what to order! While one is spoilt for choice (appetizers, pizza,  pasta,  mains,  shakes,  smoothies,  coffees), the illustrations of old English movies make it harder to concentrate on deciding the order!  Hence we asked for recommendations and were surprised at the puzzled look on our waiters face!  He made a good recommendation for a sundae (chocolate,  coffee and fudge combo - about INR 250).  Other two things (irish coffee INR 180 and Chicken in red wine served with pasta and bread INR 470) we ordered on our own.

The drinks came by quickly.  The irish coffee was served in a cappuccino cup instead of the tall glass serving we expected and the taste was quite forgettable!  The sundae was a stark contrast! It looked amazing,  the portion was huge and it was sinful!  Definitely to be shared with someone if you hope to have stomach space to sample other food!

They served us the Chicken halfway way through our drinks and conversation.  The chicken was yum, the gravy was brown and the wine and mushrooms gave it a balanced yet rich flavor!  The pasta they served with it was barely luke warm and lumpy, bread complimented the gravy better.

The staff was sweet enough to let us sit for a good 15 minutes post finishing our food and paying the bill.  They even clicked pictures for us!

The above mentioned prices are approximates only and taxes are levied over and above them! I don't even know the overall damages as my friend was sweet enough to treat me!

Overall I do think the place is a bit over-rated but if you have a sweet tooth this is where you should head!  (*drools over memory of a gorgeous looking blueberry cheese cake at the counter! )

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A revisit to Kalaghoda Cafe

Well well a thumbs up to Kalaghoda Cafe for consistently delivering fresh food with robust flavours.

- The Belgian hot chocolate was sinful
- Parnesan tomato pesto sandwich was rich in flavour
Tomato and Parmesan goodness

- Scrambled eggs and omelette were good too
Good old scrambled eggs

- We also tasted a lemon mint drink which was surprising subtle in flavor,  yet packed punch.  
a Minty-Lemony drink - very refreshing

Despite all the good stuff i have spoken about, every place needs a little tweaking with the menu to keep a regular interested and this cafe is no different.

(Damages for the meal were about 270 per person)

The cafe also plays a huge role in helping artists advertise their shows and events,   photographers showcase their photos as  installations on the café walls and encouraging cycling in Mumbai by offering free coffee to cyclists on Sundays.

Belgian hot chocolate with a cause

I was also pleasantly surprised to find the hot chocolate decorated with "save water", a good way to support a Noble cause!

However, what truly made my re-visit perfect was free wifi and a chance to download upgrade for apps!  Cheers!
Making the most of free wi-f9

Friday, April 5, 2013

Lagerbay, Waterfield Road, Bandra

Lagerbay located at Bandra was on my yet-to-try list for far too long.  On a random Thursday night me and a couple of friends ended up here to catch up over a beer or two.   Needles to say the choice was good.

A doze of food, music and booze!
Lagerbay has a feel of an old world pub yet the choice of the music they play makes it lively.   Also, the wall decorations are really fabulous.

Quirky collectibles lining the walls

At Lageybay, you can choose to sit at the high stool by the bar,  regular wooden chairs with tables (some with funky table tops!) or lounge on the sofas.   Irrespective of where you sit,  you won't be far away from a TV - and that my friend is a Brownie point for Lagerbay given that IPL 6 has just begun.

Piano table - at the far end of Lagerbay

The place was quite full for a week night (thursday) but not bursting at the seams.  While the staff is plenty,  they seem to disappear and one has to wait alot to place their order.

We were about 7 of us and our order comprised of:

1) Chilli potato - this dish was very well prepared with the right amount of heat and tanginess to the potatoes, also the potato was neither to crisp nor limp!  

2) Parmesan crusted grilled chicken - the chicken was tender yet crusty on the outside, the sauce could have had a little more heat,  it was sweeter than I liked. The mashed potatoes on the side and grilled vegetables made this dish wholesome.
Parmesan crusted grilled chicken

3) Veg lasagne - though my friends liked this dish,  I found it passable. 

4) Chicken quesedila - quantity was too less, also the quesedila could do with more stuffing but it was awesomely buttery and crisp. 

5) Tiramisu - milky and lacking balance of flavours,  the cake was too little and coffee was light.
too milky!

6) Lava cake with vanilla ice cream - eggy! Even dominoes does better! 

too eggy!

7) Hazelnut chocolate mousse cake - the saviour and delicious! 

by far the best dessert
8) Chicken burger with fries on the side - I didn't taste it but they are supposed to be good at burgers.

Overall a mixed bag for food!

Other than the food we ordered a mixed bag of beer and cocktails. The cocktails looked plain yet were refreshing.   The beer menu was expansive and did not disappoint.  

The damages were INR 7,000.

Overall an expensive place but the ambiance won me over and of course,  the company.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Breakfast at Kalaghoda Cafe

Synonymous with bustling art scene and a steady stream of crowd, Kalaghoda also boasts of many eateries, some large, while some, small in a charming way; just like Kalaghoda Café (‘KGF’).

Non-descript arrival!
A non-descript board overshadowed by branch of a tree welcomes many a hungry soul, a steady stream of foreigners, the odd-couple looking for a place to relax and the art lover.  This café houses 4 to 5 tables on the ground level and a large table with big black couch at the attic level lined by the perfect white walls, a large painting and a notice board promoting art exhibitions and galleries.  On a regular day, many people must be rediscovering coffee and themselves at KGF, but the Sunday we chose to head to KGF was anything but regular.

The Café was overflowing with people.  Though we found a place to sit, on a table wedged between the cash-cum-order counter and the back-door at a right angle, it was not the best table to have.  The best table was the one in the attic, where dim orange lights set a perfect mood for a foreigner to indulge in some travel reading over a cup of coffee.

Another let-down was a large group of noisy grown-ups. They occupied most of the café, hogged the attention of all the three staff members of KGF, spoke incessantly of food while ordering and eating everything on the Menu and perhaps off it.  Luckily, they offered a lot of entertainment and eye candy!


As we settled down, I observed the hand-written board announcing today’s speciality – some sandwich, coffee, juice and a dessert – nothing to exciting. The menu card, with a plain brown cover page is also a drab.  Their menu is sparse and includes basic breakfast items including but not limited to eggs (in 5-6 varieties), cereals, waffles (3 variations), sandwiches (6-7 types), coffees, juices and some bakery/ dessert items.  We settled for one portion of cheese straws (kept in a large clear glass jar at the counter and yummy to look at!), one plate of Akhuri (parsi egg bhurji), Cheese omllette, pesto cheese tomato sandwich, chocolate waffle and one mug of hot chocolate.

We waited ten minutes, until we reminded the staff to serve us the cheese straws which were crunchy, had the perfect balance of cheese and body and a nice start to our breakfast.  Next came the chocolate waffles (I know, odd to eat them before other savoury items!), which were eggier than I expected but definitely better than a lot of waffles I had eaten, the choclate service in a small bowl was exceptional in quality!

Our savoury breakfast took forty-five minutes to arrive.  In between we discovered that the noisy bunch were part of a facebook group/ page called Pet Pujaris*.  Incidentally, we were supposed to join the same noisy Pet Pujaris to have breakfast at Suzette (Nariman Point), but we changed our mind and headed to KGF.  Maybe we were meant to meet the lively bunch headed by Sushil!  After a small introduction with the group and the usual exchange of pleasantries, we dove straight into our food.



The Akhuri was fluffy and perfectly flavoured, while the cheese omllette was too buttery, but tasty nevertheless.  Both these dishes were served with toasted bread, two halves of grilled tomatoes and a roundel of unsalted, grated potato.  The sandwich was barely warm and could do with a little more pesto to lift the flavour.  The hot chocolate (recommended by a friend), was my favourite.  I’m not a big fan of hot chocolate, so much so that I hardly think its worth ordering.  However, I may change my mind after enjoying the rich, dark flavour of the hot chocolate they served.


Overall, I recommend this place for the ambience (ensure it’s not crowded!), the good coffee (which I intend to try in my next visit) and friendly foreigners (one asked me if I would ask them for money If I took their pic, to which I replied, well, not every Indian is so weird!).  But when it comes to food, I would recommend Café Churchill, Moshes and Mondy’s, all located in the vicinity.

The breakfast for 3 set us back by Rs 750 (including all taxes) and a good two hours.  Go here with an open mind, a good book and lots of time in hand.

* Pet Pujari is a facebook group which meets thrice a month to try food joints across Mumbai. They do two dinners, one fatka dinner (expensive) and one kadka dinner event (meals under Rs 300).  Recently they had their first breakfast events at KGF and I believe thats going to be a regular event as well.


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