Who doesn’t love a restaurant that lets you dine under the sky? A hint of sunshine, gentle breeze, a sound of a fountain – it really brings on those vacay vibes. So does Pondicherry, for that matter, and its here that I found a lot of courtyard restaurants sprinkled around the popular White Town.

But a great outdoor restaurant is more than just patio furniture and umbrellas, right? The outstanding ones have a sense carefully created sense of personality and character. Restaurants like these are where guests come to savour the experience, and not just gobble up a meal.

courtyard le dupleix

AMBIANCE

The Courtyard, one of the restaurants at the Le Dupleix Hotel has charm. You’d be interested to know that, what now is a hotel, was once the residence of the Mayor of Pondicherry in the 18th century – Joseph Francois Dupleix. The original building has been expanded, renovated and modernized, leaving the timelessness intact and is now run by the Hidesign Group, who also own the Promenade Hotel a few minutes away. The Courtyard is the heart of the hotel and a huge mango tree as you enter is one of the highlights. All around, white archs lead away from the square, while tables and chairs are laid out in the hall as well as the corridor between the two. Heritage buildings like these leave me with a sense of awe. I wonder if Mr. Dupleix would have ever imagined there would be people sipping on wine in his courtyard, centuries ago.

SERVICE

I sat in the corridor area since there was better lighting and the staff were pretty attentive, probably more so because they had to walk past the area to go from the indoor dining area to the courtyard. Chef Sathish Rajasekaran, the Executive Chef at the Promenade also heads the kitchen here at the Courtyard, and after a spectacular meal at the former, I was set to be blown away!

FOOD

The Courtyard at Le Dupleix has a menu featuring both, French and hearty South Indian mains. I’d already had European food that morning, as well as at BlueLine, a restaurant run by the same chef at the Promenade hotel, as mentioned above, so I decided to tuck into the South Indian food.

Rasam aux crevettes – Rasam and Prawns are rarely seen in the same sentence, let alone the same dish. But it worked marvelously in this luscious dish. Rasam is a watery, South Indian soup that’s prepared using tamarind juice, chilli, pepper, cumin and spices with bottle gourd or drumsticks added in. In this fusion dish, big, juicy, minimally spiced prawns and coconut milk added a whole new dimension to rasam, bordering it on the verge of South India and perhaps, the Orient. Loved how it teased my taste buds!

the courtyard le dupleix pondicherry

Poricha Kozhi and Tawa Pepper Lamb – I tried two other dishes from the Pondicherry Fusion Cuisine section of the menu – some sample portions of Poricha Kozhi (deep fried chicken marinated with Pondicherry spices), and Tawa Pepper Lamb. Neither of these were extraordinary, but I’d tip the scales in favour of the lamb because of its playful spice mix.

le dupleix pondicherry

Chicken Chettinad – This was definitely one of the better dishes of the evening. It’s deliciously fragrant spicy curry, with yogurt mixed in for balance. The soft, succulent chicken was absolutely perfect, simmered in a medley of roasted spices and coconut. SO filling! Definite must-try with rice or naan!

chicken chettinad pondicherry

Tiramisu – I picked the Tiramisu off the dessert menu but wasn’t very pleased with it. It was akin to eating pure cream. While a hint of coffee was present, the flavour of marscapone cheese lacked completely. I sorely missed the coffee dipped ladyfingers – few of those would be a great idea.

le dupleix courtyard pondicherry

Overall, a few hits and misses here. If you’ve visited The Courtyard, Le Dupleix in Pondicherry, comment below and let me know what your experience was like.

Don’t forget to read my review on the best places to eat in Pondicherry! And follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Bye!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, view, as always, are my own.

Hey guys!

Hope you’re enjoying the Pondicherry Series! As you probably know by now, Pondicherry is tantalizing mix of South India and France and so one of the reasons I visited was to see what the culinary scene was like. Would French food and South Indian food maintain their identities, both of which are poles apart from each other? Or would there be instances where they merged into something ultra mod? Are the glorified places really worth the hype and are there undiscovered restaurants waiting to be found?

I’ll get right to business! Here’s a list of places I ate at and a snippet of what I thought of them.

Zuka – This place is a candy store – literally! Chocolate lovers, you’re in for a treat with their decadent hot chocolate served with a chocolate spoon on the side! Take your pick from a variety of cakes, cookies, chocolates and pastries in the gleaming display case, all of which will ensure your sweet cravings are satisfied before you walk out the doors. For the amount of patrons they have, 3 tables fall short of requirements. So prepare yourself to gorge on chocolate while standing up.

zuka pondicherry

The Courtyard, Le Dupleix – A palatial French bungalow converted into one of Pondicherry’s finest hotels also has a breezy restaurant in the courtyard with a name that defines it. I sampled the rasam aux crevettes which is a curious mix of south Indian rasam (a tangy tamarind-tomato-pepper soup) and juicy prawns, an ingredient that definitely doesn’t belong in it, but works wonderfully! I chose to try the famed Tamil Nadu dish Chicken Chettinad here, for its authenticity and it didn’t disappoint either. I’ll share more about my meal at Le Dupleix in my next post.

courtyard le dupleix

Biker Stall – I don’t think this food stall has a name, but you’ll find him parked just a few lanes away from the Promenade with his motorcycle turned into a makeshift kitchen. A grill attached to one side is sizzling with chicken wings, chicken cubes, paneer and pineapple while hungry patrons eagerly await their plate of food, eyeing patiently at the men at work, basting and turning over the meat on the grill. The food is nothing spectacular, but if you have time, visit for the novelty of it all.

india's first food bike

Xtasi Pizza – Undoubtedly one of the best places to eat in Pondicherry! A small diner with a larger than life reputation for having the finest wood fired pizzas in town. Start with some onion rings and a brownie milkshake until you decide which of their 50 pizzas you’d like to sample – and if you can’t, simply order a half-and-half! All their pizzas have a generous amount of toppings, but if you’re really hungry, order the 18 inch one – it’s as large as a tyre! I tried the Xtasi special, and would definitely order it again!

xstasi pizza pondicherry

Baker’s Street – If you want a real taste of French confections, this is where you’ll strike gold. From melt-in-your-mouth chocolates and croissants that bring on that twinge of guilt to light, fresh quiches, salads and baguettes, the selection of goodies they offer will have you agonizing over what to order. Visit for an early morning breakfast, late brunch or evening pick-me-up and admire the authentic red diagonal tiles set diagonally and patterned ceiling. It doesn’t take much imagination to transport yourself to those little cafés off the pavement in Paris.

bakers street

Kamatchi Biryani – Another highly recommended place for its biryani but it’s had a definite quality drop. The service is prompt, however, the food was served cold, rice devoid of flavour and very little meat. The briyani came with a side of rasam, of all things, and another bowl of steamed rice, which was quite confusing – but if you’re looking for a tummy-filler, try it out. If you want taste and quality, look elsewhere or try your luck and order something else.

kamatchi biryani

GMT Gelato – OMG! I’d go back to Pondicherry just for a taste of this gelato! Located at the start of the promenade, this tiny parlour has artisanal flavours at reasonable prices. From rich, velvety vanilla to playful sorbets, dark chocolates and boozy flavours, pick up a creamy treat before your jaunt through Pondy! I loved the Himalayan Salt-Caramel flavour!

GMT gelato

Villa Shanti – An institution in itself, Villa Shanti is a hotel with a restaurant serving exquisite French food. Partly indoors and partly outdoors, this fine dining restaurant delivers consistent Continental/French cuisine and a bit of Indian fare. It doesn’t fit into any boxes, per se and has a soothing ambience with a European feel that reflects in the décor and menu. Imported beer, attention to detail when it comes to presentation, good service and a pricing that tilts towards the higher side with food to match are some of its prominent features. Go for an early/late lunch or dinner to avoid waiting for a table.

villa shanti pondicherry

Café des Arts – Given the amount of people that recommended this place to me, I was sure I was in for a treat, and didn’t snack all day in order to do justice to Café Des Arts.  Ugh!! Dismal! Absolutely dismal! It baffles me why so many people recommend this restaurant, with its wobbly chairs and indifferent staff. I’m not sure if they’re just resting on their laurels and allowing the quality of food to slip, or are overconfident that no matter what they serve, patrons will come calling. The mustard chicken sandwich lacked any kind of presentation (or even effort) and the dryness was the least of its problems. The Bacon and Egg baguette came in bread so hard that I had to gnaw at it like a bone. They didn’t even bother to cut the edges off. I wouldn’t spend another rupee here, but if you want to give it a shot, I’ll leave the decision to you.

cafe des arts

Bread and Chocolate – This adorable café in Auroville is definitely a must visit for excellent confections, bread and great energy! I regret not trying the large, delicious looking chocolate croissants on display! You will find clean, raw, fresh ingredients in your lunch bowls, sandwiches and salads! I had the sourdough bread with layers of sliced banana, a drizzle of honey and a slather of homemade peanut butter and it was marvellous! Don’t miss this gem for anything!

Naturellement – Getting here is a bit tricky as need to make your way through red, dusty, unpaved roads through patches of forest but using GPS, you will eventually get there. This large, outdoor café in the midst of nature serves organic, gourmet European fare and every dish I tried was hearty and delicious. The tuna salad was the best I’ve tried so far – packed with flavour and with generous heaps of tuna! The Raviolli and Penne Pasta was delicious too, but what stole the show was Martina’s Special Cake – layers of chocolate and a biscuit-y crumb, served cold. You will literally lick the spoon! Visit for an unforgettable experience.

naturellement cafe pondicherry

Eat my Cake – You’ll feel like you walked into a cozy little dollhouse when you put your foot in the door! This darling little café lists their specials on a pink board outside, that’s placed alongside cute wooden chairs and teal tables. You can place your order downstairs (they have a display case with knockout desserts) and head up to the al-fresco seating area that overlooks a street lined with bougainvillea. It’s a great place to spend a few hours, sipping a cuppa and indulging in waffles, brownies, apple pie and fresh juices. They even have free wi-fi so you can work, although all you’ll want to do here is take pictures for Instagram!

eat my cake pondicherry

Coromandel Café – This is the kind of place you want to spend hours in! Like Café Des Arts, this one is also a house converted into a restaurant, but oh, how exquisite!! A magnificent chandelier hangs from the ceiling in the main hall and stands out against the pale green wallpaper and antique furniture. Every room has 3-4 tables and the outdoor seating is prettier than inside, however the humid weather made us pick a table in one of the a/c rooms of the house. The service is extremely slow, but I didn’t mind since I wanted to spend as much time there as possible. The menu is limited, comprising of a handful of dishes under starters and mains. I tried the pink taggiatelle and penne paste and was bowled over! The portions were huge and the pink pasta was exquisite – big chunks of sweet caramelized onions, distinct creaminess of goats cheese, crunchy red cabbage and sprouts and a mind blowing dollop of Auroville Parmesan sauce. Insanely yum!

coromandel cafe

BlueLine, Promenade – The prominent Promenade hotel has 4 restaurants, out of which I tried BlueLine, a 24 hour establishment overlooking the sea. They serve lavish Indian, Oriental and Continental cuisine. I ordered the Double Baked Three Cheese Souffle and it was exquisite! Gouda, Parmesan and goat cheese was light, airy and every bite was rich in cheesy goodness. I picked my mains from the French section of the menu as well – Sole Meurinere – which was a pan fried sole fish cooked in brown butter, parsley and lemon. Another win! Simple ingredients accentuated the delicate flesh of the fish beautifully without too much fanfare.

blueline promenade

Sicily’s – This is another restaurant on the Promenade that overlooks the beach and provides value-for-money Continental fare such as Pastas, Pizzas and steaks. The interiors are cool and colourful but they also have pleasant outdoor seating. I tried the pasta which was a little monotonous, while the pizza was fairly good. There’s definite room for improvement.

sicilys

Surguru – There are quite a few of these around but I visited the one near Xtasi Pizza place. No frills air-conditioned restaurant with AMAZING south Indian food! I really enjoyed my crispy medhu vada and fluffy idli (although I’m not really into idlis.) The restaurant was empty and I had a lot of work to do, so I sat there for an hour, drinking filter coffee + working and the courteous staff made me feel at home. Head over for a great breakfast!

surguru pondicherry

That’s it from me for now! Hope this post helps you make the most of your time in Pondicherry and eat your way through its best restaurants. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more deliciousness!

See you next time!

Hey!

Welcome back! It’s been an exciting week since I returned from Pondicherry! If you’re following me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, you’ll know that ThatGoanGirl just won an award by the Food Bloggers Association of India for the Best Culinary Travel Blog in India for the 2nd year in a row! Woohoo! AND that very morning, I was around 200 kms away, watching baby turtles make their way to the sea for the first time in a quiet little beach town called Velas! But I’ll save that story for another time!

thatgoangirl matrimandir

Anyway, if you’ve heard of Pondicherry, I’m pretty certain you’d have heard about Auroville – a serene little township that is dedicated to the philosopher, Aurobindo. The site was founded by his spiritual collaborator and devotee, Mirra Alfassa, also called ‘The Mother,’ and her vision was to create a sort of utopia where men of all nationalities and beliefs could call home, while living in peace and unity.

Auroville is a fascinating little place. It almost seems like it belongs to no one, and yet, to everyone at the same time. As if the world-weary have left their troubles at the border and come in seeking spiritual solace. Dirt roads covered in red, dusty soil lead you through forested patches with lush tall greenery on either side, making you wonder where on earth you’re headed, before suddenly coming face-to-face with a bungalow, boutique or café time and again.

Getting to Auroville

Auroville is around 165 kms from Chennai and 13 kms from White Town in Pondicherry. If you’re travelling to Auroville from Chennai, a bus would be a cheap way to get there and take around 3-4 hours. Simply get off at the East Coast Road Junction and take an auto or taxi to Auroville. The entire journey should not cost you more than Rs. 500. You can also book a cab from Chennai Airport which will take more or less the same time as the bus and will cost around Rs. 2500.

On the other hand, if you’re already at White Town in Pondicherry, then travelling to Auroville is a breeze if you have your own two-wheeler. You can rent for around Rs. 300-350/day, with petrol being extra. It will take you around half an hour and is quite a pleasant drive, from the ECR road into the little lanes. GPS is quite accurate.

MATRI MANDIR

It was the onset of Tamil Nadu’s blistering summer and gauging from the last 4-5 days I’d already spent in Pondicherry, it was wise to stay indoors in the afternoon. So we set off to Auroville from White Town after a quick breakfast at 8 am, hoping to be done with our visit by 10.

matri mandir intro

Literally translating to ‘Temple of the Mother,’ Matri Mandir was high on my list of things to do in Auroville, because it is, quite literally, the heart and soul of the place. This giant golden globe that resembles a Ferrero Rocher, has always been a symbol of meditation… somewhere seekers of peace go to cut off from noise and distraction; to contemplate.

On entering the premises, visitors are first led through gallery comprising of 3-4 rooms where displays of the monument, paintings, quotes from Aurobindo and the Mother are put up. Another small room plays a short clip about Auroville, Matri Mandir, the construction, architecture and more. Once done with this gallery, you can request for a free pass and begin your walk towards the Matri Mandir. We learnt that one can go and meditate INSIDE the Matri Mandir on the first available day – which, when we asked, was the following day. We decided to register for this surreal experience on our way out.

matri mandir gallery

matri mandir displays As you walk down a shady 2 km path to Matri Mandir, you’ll come across 12 slabs of rocks, each with a painting of a different coloured flower, symbolizing a human quality – sincerity, peace, equality, generosity, goodness, courage, progress, receptivity, aspiration, perseverance, gratitude and humility. The number 12 is of deep significance here. Twelve gardens individually named ‘bliss,’ ‘light,’ ‘life,’ ‘power,’ ‘wealth,’ ‘utility,’ ‘progress,’ ‘existence,’ ‘consciousness,’ ‘perfection,’ ‘harmony,’ and ‘youth,’ signify the 12 attributes of the mother. 12 red stone petals, having the same significance hold up the golden sphere, under which a marble lotus pond lies.

matri mandir flower

thatgoangirl auroville

As we walked along the dusty, red path, the Matri Mandir rose up in front of us. Sadly, one cannot get up close to the monument and the viewing point is at quite a distance away. Apart from a huge bunch of school kids, around 50 tourists clicked selfies and pictures galore – some even doing a video chat to show their loved ones far away what the Matri Mandir looked like. I’ve got to say, this new style of virtual travel was quite amusing!

matri mandir auroville

matri mandir

thatgoangirl matri mandir

On the way out, the rise in mercury was quite apparent, and it easily touched 35 degrees Celsius. We were grateful that we sacrificed an hour of sleep in the morning to view the monument in comfort, however annoying it was to have to see it from so far away. When we finally reached the reception building again, we were sent to another building for a pass to meditate inside the Matri Mandir. And then… another let-down.

Now, just one hour later, the next available day to meditate inside the monument was pushed to four days away, and that didn’t fit into our schedule. Ugh!! The search for inner peace is quite aggravating. I heard so much about how a single ray of sunlight that filters through the top of the Matri Mandir, diffuses and lights up the place – I really wanted to see it first hand! On a side note, if you want meditate, you will need at least 2-3 days in Auroville – one day to book your slot and another to meditate inside. So plan accordingly!

matri mandir cafe

dreamers cafe matri mandir

Anyway, I quickly got over it on seeing a lot of amazing outdoor cafes – including Auroville Café and Dreamer’s Café on the premises. An indulgent cold coffee and the best chocolate cake at Dreamer’s Café was just the antidote to perk my spirits! A couple of gift shops, a boutique and other touristy things were present, too and the commercial hubbub of it all didn’t really vibe well with the serenity that the place embodies, but oh, well.

dreamers cafe auroville

dreamers cafe

This is definitely a thing you must do in Auroville and Pondicherry. If you’ve managed to get the elusive pass to meditate inside the Matri Mandir, comment below, I’d love to hear all about it.

For more Pondicherry adventures, tune in to my next blog post.

Toodles!

Before I entered the blogosphere, I used to dine out for various reasons – sometimes I lacked the motivation to cook, at other times it was to catch up with a friend, and mainly, for the pure joy of trying something new. But then as ThatGoanGirl grew and restaurant invites started pouring in, my desire to eat out for these reasons started to diminish. Why look for an interesting place when I have 3 lined up?

And one Sunday, I decided to do just that – dine somewhere I hadn’t been before without having being invited, with the sole purpose of doing a full-fledged post about it. (Not mini guides like the one I did for eateries in Lower Parel.) I’m not sure what I was looking for, but Candy and Green popped up and after quickly browsing through the pictures, I hopped on a train and in 2 hours, I was being shown a table. Yes, I traveled 2 hours for food, haha.

candy and green

AMBIANCE

The rooftop was closed, and with the Mumbai heat at an all time high, I wouldn’t have opted for it, even if it wasn’t. Inside the high-roofed dining area, tall, glass stained windows allowed sunlight to pour in, and brightly coloured chairs added to the cheerful and welcoming feels. I absolutely adored the marble table tops with gold accents for a touch of stylish modernity. And the patch of green behind the bar for a nice summery touch made the place look so tropical! It’s a mix of a lot of things, really, but boy, do they work in harmony!

candy and green review

SERVICE

The restaurant was at 50% capacity and the staff was attendant and articulate. They suggested popular sellers, refilled water glasses before they went dry and explained the offers on wine in length. Most importantly, the food came out quickly!

candy and green interiors

FOOD

Candy and Green is all about eating healthy and eating well. What sets them apart is that not only is their menu completely devoid of meat and eggs, a fact I found out after I went there, but the restaurant grows its own herbs and vegetables and uses them across cuisines – Continental, Italian and Asian. As a non-veggie and someone who leans towards the unhealthy items on menus, I was blown away at how every dish was healthier than the next, yet, so colourful and presented with finesse. They even have Jain edits of a variety of items.

Hearty soups, guilt-free salads, cold pressed juices, cheese boards and flatbreads feature on the menu alongside a long enough list of ‘small plates’ and ‘sharing plates,’ teas and coffees. They have a generous offering of wines and spirits too!

Items like dosa waffles, spicy mango mousse crostini, kale chip chaat and satay paneer skewers sounded like interesting starters. So did mains like cottage cheese steak, chickpea and feta cutlets, tie dye nachos and ‘black is back.’ But here are my picks from that Sunday brunch.

Activated Charcoal Lemonade – Activated charcoal is a big deal nowadays. Should I be embarrassed for not trying it until now? My ink black slushie was the perfect antidote for a hot day. Delicious, not too sweet thanks to the activated charcoal and it didn’t dilute until the very end. Just PERFECT for a summer day – you’ll love it!

Zucchini Parcels – Bland zucchini ribbons were delicately wrapped around ricotta cheese, little pieces of apricot and toasted nuts on a bed of chilli aioli for gentle spice. The little crunch of zucchini married well with creamy cheese and those little bursts of sweetness from the apricots were a delight! If you’re sharing the plate and have only a couple to yourself, you’ll literally feel yourself craving more.

zucchini parcels candy and green

Spaghetti in Marinara with Vegan Meatballs– Tofu and mushroom meatballs emboldened by a rich marinara sauce with a generous portion of thick noodles. Protein rich, so filling and the texture of those meatballs was almost like chicken! This came to my table right at the very end, and though I was stuffed already, it was too good to waste. This is the yummy reason I skipped dessert. On a side note, how good do those plates make everything look!!spaghetti and meatballs candy and green

Smoked Sweet Potato Burger – A healthy diner like this one has to have avocado toast on the menu. OBVIOUSLY! But among the interesting sandwiches (like the lotus root slider), the sweet potato burger caught my eye. A patty made of sweet potato in a bun was surprisingly not as dense as I would have thought, but thankfully, it was a small burger so it wasn’t too tedious to finish. Charred onions, jalapenos, feta yogurt and homemade chipotle sauce added enough interest to break the monotony.

sweet potato burger candy and green

Truffle Mushroom Flatbread – Think about the earthy flavour of juicy mushrooms combined with the umami richness and intoxicating aroma of truffle oil. Add the nutty, smoky flavour of gouda cheese and voila! The rustic truffle mushroom flatbread with a nice crispy-soft base. It’s not exactly ‘clean and green’ eating, but if you’re a little indulgent like I am, you will enjoy it!

mushroom truffle flatbread candy and green

The fact that their all-vegetarian menu doesn’t have an overdose of paneer itself is as praiseworthy as their fun-meets-fit menu. So vegetarians, the next time someone tells you that vegetarian dishes can’t be as good as meaty ones, take my advice, and send them to Candy and Green, you may just convert them!

COST – Rs. 1600 for two people

Address –  Hubtown Skybay, Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, Cumballa Hill, Mumbai

Check out some previous restaurant reviews – The Black Sheep Bistro in Goa and Poush in Mumbai

Till next time!

The fascination that the city has with microbreweries doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Kaitlyn’s Beer Garden is a comparatively newer one, however, a lot of things set it apart from the handful of microbreweries in Mumbai. For one, it’s location on a prime stretch of Bandra real estate – Hill Road, and two, its ambiance.

AMBIANCE

Until I did some research prior to visiting it, I was under the impression that the restaurant is ACTUALLY in a garden. But no, it’s on the second floor and a tiny lift at the side of the building will take you there. The tables are large, and wooden chairs, well cushioned, but what makes the place stand out among the sea of pubs in Bandra are the eerie looking artificial tree barks placed throughout the restaurant. At night, the trees light up, giving the place an outdoorsy feel, but during the day, the leaves add a little greenery, balancing out the dark furniture and floor. The naked grey cement walls look humble and a lot could be done to them to enhance the space.

kaitlyns beer garden bandra

Pick a table near the French window and watch the rickshaws move like black and yellow beetles on the road below. I did, as always, with the intention of good lighting for my pictures.

SERVICE

The welcoming staff are quite attentive and prompt, and they spared a lot of time at the table due to the fact that the restaurant was empty, save for one other table, that weekday afternoon. Apart from the dessert, the other dishes they recommended were decent.

FOOD

The menu is huge (literally) and opens up to the length of a newspaper, however, the options verge on being limited. While the nibbles are pretty good, there’s nothing too dazzling about the mains. What patrons go here for are the drinks – a large selection of bottled beers, classic and signature cocktails, innovative beer cocktails, malts, whiskeys, vodkas and more. It’s clear that this place is all about the beer, so ordering a few of their crafted brews should be on the agenda. People rave about the Belgian Wit, so give it a try and move on the Kolsch, the Midwestern Pale Ale, the Stout and the Saison.

Here’s what I tried:

Butterfly Pea Beer And Black Pearl – To be honest, we ordered the Butterfly Pea Beer because we was told by the staff that it changes colour. And it certainly did – rapidly, from blue to pink, on addition of lime juice. Pretty neat! This complex beer based cocktail was made using Bira Blonde and butterfly pea. Black Pearl, on the other hand was a concoction of Jack Daniels, sweet and sour, diablo and chocolate sauce. I don’t drink, as you know, and so, my +1 for the day did. His verdict? It was TOO chocolate-y at the bottom but until then, it was just “okay.”

Spinach and Burnt Garlic Fritters with Chilli Honey Drizzle – A generous portion of bite sized, sticky, spicy fritters was served (what you see in the image is half of the actual quantity). Just the right amount of heat, and a unique, rustic texture with a hearty flavour. Makes for some great ‘chakna’ with beer.

spinach and burnt garlic fritters kaitlyns beer garden

Beer battered prawns with wasabi mayonnaise – Fantastic! An irresistibly-crispy batter coated the prawns, and the pungent wasabi mayo – drizzled with a sweet tomato-mayo gave it a nice kick. Loved how light and non-greasy the batter was over the delicate, perfectly cooked prawns. Biting into it was blissful and we loved the wasabi mayo so much that we dipped everything in it. I’d definitely recommend this.

beer battered prawns kaitlyns beer garden

Charmoula Chicken – Chunks of chicken marinated in a flavorful coriander-yogurt paste, still steaming hot from the tandoor came to the table still tender and juicy. A decent starter if you don’t want to binge on deep fried or cheesy mains, and if full-flavoured fare is more up your alley, you’d enjoy this. The presentation of the food, in fact, of all the starters, on long black dishes added to the visual appeal.

Sloppy Chicken Burger – Comprising of a chicken patty, cheddar cheese, fried onions and an omelette, this one was just like your average cookie-cutter burger, and I felt a lot more could be done to make it a winner. Perhaps some more ingredients such as BBQ sauce or bacon would make it more appealing. Thumbs up to the fries!

loppy burger kaitlyns beer garden

Our Famous Black Pepper Chicken – I always gravitate to dishes that restaurants claim are their speciality, because I’d assume they are ordered frequently, and therefore, perfected. But if this was the level of perfection, then it just about hits the ‘average’ mark. This continental dish featured two chicken fillets, mildly spiced, with a peppery sauce, which had the texture of the Indo-Chinese chicken Manchurian gravy. Again, here the potatoes (mash) was the dish’s saving grace, with its smooth texture and subtle seasoning.

pepper chicken kaitlyns beer garden

Triple Chocolate Explosion – Double disappointment, because not only does the dessert section of the menu have ONLY two items (who wants the ice cream sundae, anyway?), but this dessert had an identity crisis of some sort. Weirdly crumbly cake that wasn’t rich or indulgent had cocktail fruit chunks inside which made it even more confusing. Three scoops of vanilla ice cream at the crown, drizzled over with chocolate sauce, and two wafers sticking out on top, doesn’t really need a genius to put it together. I’m surprised that despite the dissatisfaction expressed over this dessert by innumerable patrons on review platforms, no attempt has been made to change it or remove it from the menu.

My advice? Go for the drinks and starters. It is an affordable watering hole to hang out at with a pleasant ambiance and music, meaning Mumbai can definitely quench its insatiable thirst for microbreweries here. The ones at Andheri are getting a bit too ho-hum (and way to crowded.)

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1800 with alcohol

Address –  Khan House, Hill Road, Above McDonald’s, Bandra West, Mumbai.

I have one more place to tell you about, before I move to the Pondicherry travelogues you guys are waiting for! Stay hooked, and catch me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram until then!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own.

Being one of Mumbai’s corporate hubs, Lower Parel has a mind-boggling amount of restaurants to feed tens of thousands of hungry employees in its many sky rises. Tiny udupi joints, swanky pubs, chain outlets and even restaurants by celeb chefs like Jamie Oliver and Sarah Todd – you’ll find all kinds of restaurants in Lower Parel. Being located conveniently, between SoBo and Bandra, it is a meet-up spot for those in the suburbs and in town.

One would need a lot of time and moolah to properly experience the food in Lower Parel, however, here’s my humble attempt to list down the places I’ve tried.

PRONTO, Kamala Mills Compound

A relaxed, unfussy little place you can head to when you want some good, old-fashioned  pizza! Apart from Lower Parel, they are also located in Bandra and Churchgate. The menu has Italian inspired items- salads, soups and starters, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas along with mains like Pollo Arasto, pan seared kingfish and red thai curry. I tried the BBQ chicken pizza and added corn. (Fact – I don’t like pizza without corn.) Overall, good portions, tasty, value-for money and a quiet, hang-out spot when you don’t want to head to a mall or a CCD.

pronto-pizza

212 ALL GOOD, Phoenix Mall

Homegrown, organic, pesticide free… 212 All Good is an intriguing cafe that encompasses the essence of healthy eating because, well dieting is passe! The restaurant promotes healthy eating, but they aren’t talking about Chia seed pudding and acai bowls here. I tried the Himalayan Trout with pea mash and sweet potato – subtly seasoned and excellent. I also sampled the lean tenderloin chilli corn carne came with bread that was weirdly crumbly. And the dessert, bread pudding with coconut milk, wasn’t overly sweet so no pangs of guilt! Win! Everything, including their mayo and ketchup is made in house. Do try their version of cola which is caffeine free, made with palm jaggery, sugar caramel and herbs.

212-all-good

FRANCESCO’S PIZZERIA, Phoenix Mall

After eating at Francesco’s Pizzeria, every other pizza I’ve had has failed in comparison. This tiny little white-washed Italian restaurant at Palladium is QUALITY ALL-THE-WAY! The length of their menu will have you agonizing over what to order, but take my advice and choose the Pollo Bianca and Piri Piri Chicken, the best I’ve tried on the menu so far. Their Nutella Cheescake is fantastic, too! You won’t want to share!

francescos pizzeria

PUNJAB GRILL, Palladium Mall

Order anything here, you won’t regret it! Visit Punjab Grill for top-notch ambience, service and an extraordinary meal. I visited to try out their special winter heirloom menu and was blown away by their Murgh Dalcha Tikka and Tamarind Tandoori Chicken wings. The starters and tikka itself make for a filling meal, but don’t miss out on the biryani and curries. Punjab Grill is a foodie’s delight!

heirloom-menu-punjab-grill-1440x1080

THE ROLLING PIN, Opposite Phoenix Mall

A patisserie and restaurant serving ‘eggless-vegetarian’ fare, you can’t miss TRP’s bright glass façade when you turn in towards Phoenix Mall. The pastry section is definitely the highlight, showcasing whimsical-looking, indulgent pastries. However, if you just came for dessert and not a meal, you will have to stand by the glass cases and eat it, or pay extra to actually sit in the restaurant. Diners can head to the next section, besides the open kitchen for a variety of English breakfast items, Continental fare, pizza, etc – a few hits and misses, here and there. My go-to dish is the panko crusted mushroom stuffed with cheddar cheese. How good does it look!

rolling pin lower parel

BOMBAY CANTEEN, Kamala Mills

Tacos made of theplas, multi grain khichdi, dhokla chaat, red snapper ceviche, rum-infused gulab jamun… everything at the Bombay Canteen is distinctly Bombay-ish, with a cool firang (foreign) twist. The Bombay Canteen is renowned for using local (and often ignored) ingredients, celebrating regional cuisine and richness of palates with the utmost finesse. The ambience is different – a multitude of floral tiles, stained glass accents and brick walls. Even the little details here are nostalgia –inducing, right from the Kismi toffees at the entrance and the menu that looks like those old registers that teachers used to use.  I’ve tried so many dishes here and loved them all – so if you’re in Mumbai and can only eat ONE meal in the city, this is where it should be at.

bombay canteen lower parel

SHEESHA SKY LOUNGE, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound

I first went to Sheesha Sky Lounge when it was barely a month old, on a week night, and with over 40 tables, it still had a waiting list. Here’s all about my wonderful experience at Sheesha Sky Lounge , one that is bookmarked in my memory for the best Nalli Nihari I’ve ever had! The prices at most rooftop restaurants in Lower Parel are hiiiiiigh, so if you’re looking for an affordable one serving delicious Indian food with a side of hookah, here it is.

sheesha sky lounge

ELEMENTARIA BAKERY CAFÉ, Opposite Phoenix Mall

One of Mumbai’s finest dessert bars, this is a café in Lower Parel you could go to satisfy serious sweet cravings. I loved the red velvet tub cake, although I felt it was priced far higher than necessary. The snacks are limited, ranging from savoury croissants and quiche to puffs. If you plan a visit, indulge in their cupcakes, waffles, chimney cakes and ‘cutting desserts.’ When I went last week (Feb 2018), the place was uncomfortably hot, so I hope they fix their air-conditioning issues.

elementaria cafe lower parel

That’s all for now! I’ll keep updating the list as and when new places open (and shut). Until then, check out my #TGGFinds – Restaurant Guide to Vasai!

Let me know if you enjoyed this post! Bye!

Bombay Bronx encapsulates the spirit of Bombay, its flavour and its quirks. This fun, ultra-modern yet rustic resto-bar is a series of contrasts, just like Amchi Mumbai is. Located in the posh neighbourhood of Breach Candy, I first set foot in it a couple of years ago for a friend’s birthday party. I remember it being SO crowded, and we stood at the bar, screaming to each other over blaring music.

The food then didn’t really lure me enough to travel all the way to SoBo again. But when I did visit last week, I was pleasantly surprised. The place looked brighter, more colourful and with even more ingenious twists, post a renovation that was completed a couple of months ago.

AMBIENCE

Whatever you associate with Mumbai, you’re bound to find here, in a quirkier avatar. It’s so clichéd, in a great way and as they say of Mumbai, you’ll either love it (the attention to detail) or hate it (the over-the-top elements.)

The half-rickshaw that greeted diners at at the entrance was gone and a half vintage-looking car took its place as a photo booth for selfie-addicts. The Mumbai Local train compartment with hanging train handles was done away with as well, making the place look much more spacious. Instead, a wall to wall caricature of the train compartment, with various characters you find in the Mumbai local, featured on the wall.

bombay bronx amitabh Speaking of walls, the larger-than-life painting of Amitabh Bachchan wearing bright, yellow pants and a blue shirt, striking the ‘angry young man’ pose still remains one of the best attractions, and next to it, a new lego character was splashed on the wall. You can’t miss the new addition to the space – the dazzling set-up done along the entire width of the bar – a collage of flashing yellow vehicle headlights and red brake lights added a lot of glimmer to the filmy space, while reminding you that you’re never too far from Mumbai’s traffic-choked streets.

The music? Upbeat and current Bollywood + Bilboard hits to add to the ‘hatke’ vibe.

SERVICE

When I arrived at 8 pm, there was only one table occupied so the staff was just a gesture away. Dishes came to the table one after the other, faster than I could click pictures of them, and it stayed that way even when the restaurant started filling up! The staff could do with a better briefing on the menu – ours seemed like he had 50/50 knowledge of it.

bombay bronx ambience

FOOD

TBB 2.0 has fun new additions on the menu and while many items are twists on classic Mumbai finger food to tease your taste buds, there are some divine finds that I would definitely go back for! Whatever I sampled was so picture-worthy! In terms of drinks, they have quite a number of Indian spirits along with beer and wine cocktails, twisted classics and alcoholic iced teas. For teetotallers like me, a decent amount of mocktails, smoothies and shakes featured too. I tried ‘Simply Magic,’ which was a refreshing strawberry-peach lemonade, but for those who want to go the true-Mumbaikar route, the Imli (tamarind) soda as well as the cucumber-raw mango fizz would be interesting choices.

Let’s show you the food:

OVEN BAKED CORN, CHEESE AND SPINACH SAMOSAS – Big, chunky, soggy samosas are such a put-off so I was glad these were small, deliciously crispy, well stuffed and simply irresistible! The menu said that tamarind chutney would accompany it, but sadly, it didn’t. A pity, since it would have been even more ah-mazing with it!

bombay bronx breach candy

THE BOMBAY BRONX CHILLI CHEESE TOAST WITH MASALA FRIES – Mumbai’s cheese chilli toast isn’t just a toasted slice of bread with cheese! It’s much more elaborate treat to be savoured at any time of day. TBB totally nailed this one. Laden with melted cheese, tiny pieces of bell peppers, onions and chilly, it came with a side of crispy masala fries for those who want a little extra heat.

cheese chilli toast bombay bronx

BOMBAY ISHTYLE CHILLI CHICKEN – Semi-dry chilli chicken pairs well with a mug of beer! This Indo-Chinese street food item thankfully didn’t have any funky twist to it, because it’s already perfect the way it is. Boneless, bite sized pieces of chicken in a soya-ketchup-garlic marinade was tossed with a decent amount of sautéed onions and capsicum that doesn’t let you complain about all-veggies-no-meat. You cant go wrong when you order this crowd-pleaser at TBB!

bombay bronx chilli chicken

CHICKEN MALAI KEBAB – My favourite type of kebab, and one I tend to order whenever I see it on the menu! The malai kebabs here didn’t disappoint. Mild, fragrant and irresistibly tender, I could taste the cream and cheese in every bite. The chicken was ultra-soft and came apart at the slightest insistence. Yum!

malai kebab bombay bronx

TRUFFLE AND PARMESAN CHEESE PASTA – I’m not sure what prompted me to step away from the Bomaiya fare and order pasta, but it was undoubtedly the highlight of my meal. Truffles always add that intoxicating scent and flavour that is simply indescribable. The luscious, earthy and umami-packed flavour in every cheesy bite just did it for me! Highly recommended.

that goan girl bombay bronx

BRONX PAV SLIDERS – The quintessential vada pao has several avatars and appear under the Bronx Pav Slider section of the menu. I sampled the rajma ki galouti (mashed kidney bean) slider with fried onions, roasted garlic, chilli pickle and cream cheese glaze. The addition of salty-sweet cheese is an ingenious touch and it keeps drawing you in to take another bite, however the dish could do with a little fine tuning.

bombay bronx slider

All in all, the Bombay Bronx 2.0 still remains an innovative addition to SoBo’s nightlife scene. Try and get there early to grab a table because as the night progresses, lights dim and DJ-wala-babu turns up the volume, you’ll find the place filling up in no time.

Check out my reviews of other hot places in Mumbai – Pa Pa Ya, The Daily Bar and Kitchen, and Sheesha Sky Lounge, if you haven’t already!

…. also, let’s hang out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Until next time!


Cost for 2 – Rs. 1600/- with alcohol

Address – 10, Hub Town, Akriti Sky Bay, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Breach Candy, Mumbai

Anyone who’s been to Bangkok will tell you that it’s a crazy, chaotic place. The metropolitan city packs quite a crowd — 15 million people! So getting anywhere can be challenging. This is especially true during evening rush hour, when hordes of working professionals make their way home — most of them stopping for a quick snack or dinner at one of thousands of food stalls. Because of this, it’s advisable to book your stay in the city center at one of InterContinental Hotels Group properties so you’re never too far from the action.

bangkok street food

Here’s where you can find some of Bangkok’s best street food:

Chinatown

Chinatown isn’t restricted to Chinese food. Hawkers selling all kinds of Asian fast food as well as old-school restaurants and tea and coffee houses stand side by side on Yaowarat Road, which is a place believed to have the best street food in Bangkok. Some hidden gems include Guay Tiew Kua Gai for fried noodles with chicken, Kuay Jab Nai Ek for a peppery soup with rolled noodles and crispy pork belly, Krua Pom Lamai for gravy noodles, and Yi Sheng for coffee. For dessert, don’t miss Khanom Pang Ping for a steamed or toasted bread stuffed with sweet fillings such as coconut custard.

Silom and Sathorn

These two places are very close together, yet Sathorn is often overshadowed by Silom, which is a more prime locality. In Sathorn, the entire length of the road features food served on street tables and tiny restaurants such as Southern Thai Kaho Gaeng Restaurant and Hia Wan Rice Porridge, making it a cheap, tasty alternative to Chinatown. Don’t leave without heading to the Tee Yai Muay Lek Patong Koh cart, which serves piping hot Chinese-style doughnuts.

At SilomSoi 20 serves excellent Thai chicken biryani. Most foodies have heard about Prachak Pet Jang and the famous Chinese-style roast duck, but few know that just across the street, Boonsap Thai Desserts serves up mouth-watering mango sticky rice. Somtum Der is said to serve Bangkok’s best Papaya Salad, but also try the Thai-style ice-kajang, which is a dish that looks intimidating but is mostly air and tastes like bubblegum.

street food in bangkok

Ratchawat Market

Bangkok locals love heading to Ratchawat Market on Nakhon Chaisri Road in Dusit district, where numerous vendors on both sides of the streets serve crowds of hungry patrons all day. If you ever find yourself there, try the Rad Na Mhoo, which is wide rice noodles and pork in a soupy broth. From here, you can see patrons crowding around the entrance of Rawanstar for an outstanding plate of roasted duck and wonton dumplings.

The desserts at Wantana Khanom Thai stall are well-known too, and you can satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade sticky rice and an assortment of toppings ranging from tender coconut flesh to egg custard. Also sample some Khanom Kruk or crispy coconut pancake from the Ratchawat Market. It’s said that the royal family visits the market just for a taste of these!

Feast your way through Bangkok while taking in the sights, sounds, and sensational flavors of its street markets. Asian food will never be the same for you after your visit!

Trying to write about the restaurants in Toronto is akin to writing about all the restaurants in Mumbai – virtually impossible, even in a lifetime. So I’ll leave that to the restaurant-curation folks at Blog TO and tell you about the places I personally visited, during my second trip to Toronto. There’s something for budget travellers and the occasional splurge. Read on!

THE BURGER’S PRIEST (Multiple Locations) – I’ve had my fair share of burgers and I’ll go so far as to say that the Burger’s Priest served the best I’ve ever tasted! The quality of beef is apparent from the first buttery soft bite, and they do maintain that “you won’t find yesterday’s beef in today’s burgers.” From there on, every aspect of the mouth-watering burger is divine – onions caramelized to perfection, pillowy buns, gooey cheese, crispy fries on the side… Perfect! Definitely an upgrade from the striped-down burgers in many other fast food joints. I was amused to see the burgers sport biblical-sounding names like The Vatican, The High Priest and The Red Sea.

Cost – CAD 5.99 – CAD  14 for one

burgers priest

BOODLE FIGHT (Pape) – Boodle Fight in downtown Toronto served the 5 of us in the traditional style practiced in the Filipino army – on banana leaves, to be eaten by hand. We picked two boodle fight meals which served four, and came with a pile of rice spanning the length of the table. The owner-server then arranged a variety of seafood that almost covered up the rice. Squids, huge prawns, 2 types of fried fish, clams, octopus and more – all plainly seasoned with salt. Some raw carrots, grilled eggplant, a slice of grapefruit and pork belly skewers, the only item that had sticky-sweet sauce brushed on, also featured on the banana leaf. Go if you like trying out new things.

Cost – CAD 10 – CAD 15 for one

boodle fight

EL LOCAL LOCO (Church Street)It’s hard to not love this place! Energetic and trendy with colour-splashed murals on the wall, a variety of seating options, friendly staff and a short, sweet menu! We ordered nachos with guacamole (delicious!!) and the nacho bowl was refilled when we were done. For mains, we went with the fried fish tacos with avocado, coleslaw, cream and lime – which was lip-smacking!  Carnitas – Pork shoulder with salsa verde, fried beans and pickled carrots, was great too, but not as amazing as the fish tacos.

Cost – CAD 20-25 without alcohol for one

el local loco

CANYON CREEK CHOPHOUSE (Multiple Locations) – A great blend of casual dining meets elegance. This is one of those restaurants that lists only 8-10 items under every section but focuses on flawless execution with subtle twists. Being a ‘chophouse,’ you should try their top grade meaty items – prime rib, lamb rack, pork loin, steak, and fresh seafood. They’re also known for their selection of wine by the glass as well as cocktails. I opted for the ‘meal’ menu where one can choose a soup/salad, one of three mains and one of two desserts which, cost-wise, is equal to one main dish on the regular menu.

Cost – CAD 30-50 without alcohol for one

chophouse chipotle sirloin steak

CHEF’S ASSEMBLY (Richmond Street)– I visited Chef’s Assembly before it fully launched, so I didn’t get the whole experience, but that glimpse was enough to make me want to return. It’s a chance to sample global cuisine from 17 of Toronto’s top chefs under one roof, without having to go to high-end restaurants. Walk around browsing through the menus at different stalls and take your food over to the trendy, spacious seating area where you can maybe get yourself a glass of wine, too! This makes a great space for entrepreneurs to work and have meetings, especially since they have free wi-fi.

P.S. I tried the Love Chix counter – their burger was super crispy and the brussel sprouts was cheesy, salty and fried (deliciously unhealthy!)

Cost – Varied, but only card payments allowed.

chefs assembly

OSMOW’S (Multiple Locations)Osmow’s serves delicious middle eastern and Mediterranean food that’s popular among the young folks. Funky names like chicken on the rocks, chicken on the sticks (de-constructed shawarma), fatoush, tabouleh, souvlaki plates and more feature on the menu. Generous portions and quite tasty when you dine in as opposed to take-out.

Cost – Approx CAD 15 per person for one

PANDA EXPRESS (Multiple Locations)– I’ve got to admit, I loved Panda Express probably more than I should have, given that I’m not really a fast-food junkie. It’s probably not the healthiest, but oh man, it’s sooo goood! Take your pick of two-three items from the display. Mandarin beef, panko fried shrimp, sweet and sour pork, kung pao chicken, dumplings, rice and noodles and so much more that you’re spoiled for choice.

Cost – CAD 6 – 12 for one

panda express

DENNY’S (Multiple Locations)– Another chain restaurant worth mentioning because who doesn’t love all-day breakfasts! Pancakes, eggs your way, bacon, sausages, hash browns, milkshakes! Sadly, no pictures here because the food wasn’t photograph material.

Cost – CAD 6 – 12 for one

PAI (Duncan Street) – If you’re heading here for dinner, make reservations. When I went, there was a waiting list for the waiting list! We came back a few days later for lunch and had the most amazing Thai food in a setting that had a dope hipster vibe. Loved the earthy wooden accents and twinkling lights, and while my Pad Thai was delicious, I wouldn’t call it authentic as it lacked the citrusy, savoury, nutty flavour. A good rendition, nonetheless!

Cost – Approx CAD 20 for one

pai thai

LANGDON HALL COUNTRY HOUSE HOTEL (Cambridge)This isn’t the kind of restaurant one goes to every weekend. The high-end, fine dining restaurant in Cambridge, has been awarded the prestigious five diamond award, making it one of the Top 50 in Ontario. Expert chefs create the most beautiful dishes using fresh, seasonal ingredients, skill and molecular gastronomy to wow the palate. More on my experience here.

Cost – CAD – 150 +

sweetbreads-and-lobster-langdon-hall-1440x1080

CAPTAIN’S BOIL (Multiple Locations) – Order seafood by the half-kilo, in one of the four sauce options which comes boiled and served in giant plastic bags. You empty the contents straight on the table (no plates!) and dig in with your bare (actually, plastic gloved) hands. Sounds gross? It is! It’s one of those places you could love or hate, but the food, no doubt, is delicious – especially the crab! I like my seafood hot and it was sort of lukewarm when it arrived. Service could be improved.

Cost – CAD 50-60 for two

CHAKO (Multiple Locations)One of the best restaurants I visited on my trip to Canada was Chako, a large Asian eatery that allows diners to grill ALL the meat and veggies they can eat. The beef and pork marinade was divine and the experience of grilling on your table-top burner over drinks and conversations make for a fun evening. Since everything is so finely sliced, you only have to watch them brown and char for a minute before devouring the smoky meat. They also serve sushi which was nothing to write home about.

Cost – CAD 20-30 for one

chako toronto

HEART SUSHI (Heartland) – This modern-looking, all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant has a smart iPad system of ordering so you can order throughout the evening without having to flag down a server. Go here for the sushi and sashimi, however, try as much as possible because everything is pretty darn good. The soup, dimsum, teppenyaki, tempura, fried rice, stir-frys, spring rolls and omg! – The fried banana with ice cream is dope!

Cost –CAD 20-30 for one

heart sushi heartland

SWEET JESUS (Multiple Locations) – I was pretty excited on seeing the Sweet Jesus Instagram page, but on visiting, felt it was a tad overrated. I have to wonder if perhaps that’s where the appeal lies – in Instagram-worthy toppings on a traditional soft serve. Red velvet crumbs, toffee bits, crumbled cookies, cotton candy, custard and dozens more, slathered over ice cream in cups or cones feature alongside churros and coffees on the menu.

Cost – CAD 4 – 10 for one

sweet jesus

PARAMOUNT FINE FOODS (Multiple Locations) – Healthy, fresh, halal Middle Eastern Food in Toronto. I first had their freakin’- huge shawarma in 2015 and still craved the taste 2.5 years later. The shawarma is wrapped in fresh, airy wood-fired pita which makes all the difference. The pita paired with hummus and tabbouleh, it is a match made in heaven!  I’ve never had space for dessert after a meal here.

Cost – CAD 6-20 for one

paramount fine food

ARKADY BISTRO CAFE (Mississauga) – From the food, to the people and music to the news playing on TV, it’s all Polish! There’s a wide choice of healthy, wholesome food to choose from and the portions are huge enough to share. Lamb shanks, ribs, Polish schnitzel, fish, salads, buckwheat and simple veggies make up the most part of the menu. The dessert selection as well as desserts themselves are large but you won’t feel guilty for over-eating here, that’s for sure!

Cost – CAD 30 for two

arkady bistro cafe toronto

That’s a wrap! Have you visited any great restaurants in Toronto? Comment below, and I’ll add them to the bucket list for my next trip.

My three cousins in Canada all have starkly different tastes when it comes to food. One loves his fast-food (burgers, pizzas, all-you-can-eat – the faster and tastier, the better!) The second loves discovering unique restaurants, local joints and trying out new cuisines, just like I do. And the third, a perfectionist by nature, has an appreciation for fine food and gastronomic experiences.

I couldn’t be any luckier – for that meant getting a tiny glimpse into the entire food scene in Toronto. I’ll share the restaurants I tried with you in a later post, but this one is about my fabulous Christmas gift from Cousin #3 – a night out with her at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge to experience an 11 course tasting menu!

langdon hall cambridge

Before I get into the food, let me tell you something about Langdon Hall. This isn’t the kind of place you go to every weekend – it’s one of those where you hope a reeeeally special occasion comes around just so you can celebrate there. The food is refined, beautifully crafted and presented – meant to be savoured, not just eaten.

Having being awarded the prestigious 5 Diamond Award by the AAA, you can expect leading cuisine prepared using the finest ingredients. The dishes are prepared by an acclaimed chef (Jason Bangerter), served by gracious service staff, led by maitre d’ in extraordinary surroundings. Yep, this is serious business, and in fact, Langdon Hall is among the Top 50 restaurants in Ontario.

I happened to visit one snowy night and couldn’t appreciate the architecture from the outside, however the interiors are plush, mid-century modern and palatial.

The tasting menu at Langdon Hall is a seasonally evolving affair, reflecting the inventiveness of its chefs with a slight inclination to the fads + fetishes of the foodie revolution.  Every course is bite sized, and if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve recently shared why fine dining restaurants like these serve tiny portions. Have you seen it yet?

At Langdon Hall, the devil is in the details! Pristine white table cloths, candles lit on every table even ones on which no guests are seated, butter sprinkled with salt, and staff who appear and disappear as if by telepathy, carrying food, wine.

The first course was made of sunflower root, stuffed with a velvety truffle puree, coated over with sunflower seeds, fried and served on a bark of wood. It was so delicately crunchy, giving way to a rich, creamy filling! This curious little dish blew me away, straight off the bat! Another stellar dish followed, served in four tiny pieces of crockery. A deviled egg on a deliciously savory beetroot puree served in a cup holder shaped like a duck’s foot, brioche, crème fraiche and Canadian caviar. Together, they made a rich, creamy, decadent, sour and somehow great combination!

landgon hall tasting menu

best restaurant in canada

Brassica, a vegetable akin to cauliflower and broccoli, was spooned over with fermented chilli sauce, coriander and Ontario peanuts. Again, a one bite dish that was gone before I knew it!

brassica tasting menu langdon hall

Scallop, poached just enough to leave the taste of the sea intact, served with celery root juice, apple pearls and sorrel for a texture that was almost cucumber-like. The choice of the clear glass dish made it look even more vibrant.

scallop tasting menu langdon hall

Then came sweetbread and lobster served with brown butter, cinnamon and a creamy golden nugget squash dressing. Another feast for the senses thanks to the glimmering silver dish and colourful components that complimented each other perfectly.

sweetbreads and lobster langdon hall

The Autumn Truffle Puree was high on my list of favourites. I couldn’t get enough of this buttery soup that was so silky, it’s hard to put into words! Camel-hued with a spoonful of hen veloute foam on top, the quantity was such that it was gone in seconds. I could easily drink two litres of it!

autumn truffle puree jason bangerter

Venison with the right amount of gaminess came next with braised red cabbage, rutabaga fondant and fermented wild berry that was a bit too tart for my liking. See that leaf there on the plate? You could crack it like a chip, it was that crispy!

jason bangerter langdon hall

Finally, dessert service started with an airy gin meringue with frozen juniper and spruce followed by the second dessert, Terroir Noir with 70% dark chocolate, mulled cranberry and the absurd but wonderful element of crispy chicken skin, which added a delicious saltiness to the dessert, much like sea salt would.

langdon hall dessert

terror noir chicken skin

My cousin raves about how every meal here is better than the last and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to visit. An unforgettable experience, for sure! If you enjoy great food, good wine and have a special occasion to celebrate, you’ll have a remarkable experience at Langdon Hall from start to finish.

Where have you had your fanciest meal? Comment below, I’d love to know!

With over 200 restaurants in Candolim alone, the big vacation dilemma if you’re staying in that part of the state is deciding where to eat. Roadside shacks, fine dining spots overlooking the beach and everything in between serve up fare to please any palate.

Rather than relying on the contradictory opinions on review sites, I’ve listed down the restaurants in Candolim I’ve personally tried with good, bad and ugly opinions. As always, I’ll keep updating it when I try out new places, remove ones that have shut down and update the reviews of existing ones depending on whether the experience is better or worse than before.

TUSCANY GARDENS

Perfect for date night, Tuscany Gardens is a romantic restaurant where you can dine under the stars. The twinkling lights, hanging lanterns, candles on the table and overhead vines contribute to building an ambience that fits into a novel.  Tuscany Garden prides itself on delicious, hearty Italian fare and are reasonably priced for the massive portions they serve. I tried the cabonara and pesto pasta with chicken – both impeccable! Next time, I’m going for the pizza!

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1000/-

tuscany gardens candolim goa

tuscany gardens goa ARTHUR’S THEME – I’d heard about Arthur’s Theme for the longest time, but never managed to visit until quiet recently. Located in the Acacia Hotel property, I was wowed by the detailed and vintage-chic interiors in pastel shades. Arthur’s Theme boasts of a vast drinks menu but that’s not all there is to say about it – every item on the menu is named after mytholical and historical characters. Karl II, Atlas, Cleopatra, Caesar and Helen of Troy all feature in this medieval menu. Queen Marchell is a definite must try – luscious broiled mushrooms stuffed with cottage cheese and herbs. I loved everything I ate!

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1100/-

arthurs theme goa

arthurs theme candolim goa
TIO TILLY- I’ve already blogged in detail about Tio Tilly here, but it is worth mentioning again. This sunny little place serves up epic pizzas and burgers and their butter basic prawns are to-die-for!! When I visited, their dessert menu wasn’t in place yet, but hopefully it will be when you go!

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1000/-
tio-tilly-goa-butter-basic-prawns-1440x1080

CAFÉ CHOCOLATTI – If you’re idea of heaven is sitting in a lush green  garden, nibbling on brownies, scones and pancakes, this is the place for you! Nestled within a high walled garden with tropical plants and a lawn, Café Chocolatti is right on the main road yet has a secluded feel.  They serve up some epic breakfasts and desserts but is a great place to go for a quick catch-up over coffee and snacks.  Everything is made fresh, in house!

PRICE FOR 2 – RS. 1000/-

cafe chocolatti goa

DE CANDOLIM DECK – To tell you the truth, I entered this restaurant because it looked brighter and was less crowded than the ones beside it. While it has a lot of negative reviews online, I’ll be fair and say that what I tried wasn’t completely terrible! In fact, the Chorizo Chilly Fry was great! The Vindaloo, however, was a far cry from Vindaloo. Would I visit again?  Not if I had a choice. And definitely not if they’re playing that terrible Bollywood music that its neighbours are!

COST FOR 2- Rs. 1300

de candolim deck

Got any places you think I should try? Have you dined at these places before? I want to hear it all, so comment below and let me know!

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Bye!