I’ve always believed that India’s real riches are the diversity of food it offers – food that’s as multi-flavoured as the country itself.

Outsiders may generalize Indian food to be just about curry, whereas even in India itself, we write off North Indian food as butter-chicken-naan and south Indian food as dosa-idli-sambar. But food in India is more than a means to satiate hunger, it is the way to an Indian’s heart. Any Indian!

At the Marriott Goa, the kitchens are abuzz everyday from the 14th till the 20th of August 2017 to bring these different flavours, tastes and associated emotions to life! With one day dedicated to the cuisine of one region, they’re dishing up the most elaborate spread of regional cuisine under one roof! It helps that the team of chefs hails from all parts of the country, and on the day I visited, I had the richest, most decadent cuisine of all – Punjabi!!

Head Chef Pawan Chennam greeted me and introduced me to Chef Gurneet – the man behind the dinner for the day. Punjabi food is luxury, in every sense of the word and the spread of food from salads to mains and even desserts was jaw-dropping! They even went so far as to bring the vibrant madness of Punjab’s streets to the hotel, with carts selling chaat, corn on the cob, golas and chole kulchas!

AMBIANCE

Until now, I had only visited JW Marriott properties. JW Marriott is a tier higher than the regular Marriott brand that recently took over Starwood Hotels. The difference in ambiance was apparent right away. The quiet, luxurious interiors in earthy and gold tones I was used to in Mumbai’s JW properties was absent and in it’s place, loud coloured furniture in red and green. There was a lot of red and blue neon lighting which was a bit jarring at first.

marriott interiors restaurant

The decor had a ‘Punjabi dhaba’ theme that was carried through in the truck/cart styled set up and huuuge utensils of biryanis that I’ve only seen before in videos of the langar (communal meal) at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the other hand, the desserts were daintily placed on hanging swings.

marriott interiors

culinary journey of india marriott goa

Given the fact that the theme of the restaurant would be changed every single day in keeping with the region, the level of attention given to decor was impressive! Overall, the ambiance was super casual and noisy, more like a pub on a Saturday night, minus the music.

marriott food festival interiors

marriott punjab food

SERVICE

This was one place where I felt that everyone, from the staff to the chefs, were genuinely happy to be there, doing their jobs and giving more to it than was expected of them. The service was extremely warm and welcoming! They kept checking up on us, suggesting and bringing the next course from the buffet which was a few feet away – right to the table. I was quite surprised to find out that most of them already follow me on Instagram!

FOOD

Like I mentioned earlier, I was glad to have made it for the Punjabi feast! I’m sure the cuisines of other states would have been equally fantastic, but Punjab is a state you can eat your way through. Dollops of ghee, cream and butter, soft, tender meat, rich spices, deep flavours and indulgent sweets – all of it makes for a hearty meal!

Here’s a fraction of the spread during the Culinary Journey of India food festival at Marriott, Goa

buffet marriott goa

gurneet dhaba marriott goa

Never seen a spread of pickles like this before!

pickles marriot goa

salads marriott goa

Coming to the food I actually sampled, Marriott once again leaves me torn when it comes to choosing my favouirte dish. Every time I thought I had found it, the next dish outdid the last.

We started off with Chole Kulcha, a quintessential street food item that I’ve never tried before, simply because I always run straight towards the Chole Bhature. It was a meal in itself! Masaledaar chickpeas mounted on a soft, flour bread called kulcha, garnished with onions, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime. For those who love spicy food, this is as good as it gets!

chole kulcha marriott goa

Melt-in-your-mouth galouti kebabs from the Awadhi table followed! What distinguishes this one among other kebabs is that the tenderized minced meat and mild spices are formed into patties and roasted on the tava. My favourite kebabs are Malai chicken – so heavenly!!

galouti kebab

Mahi Amritsari followed. You can tell how crispy that batter is by just looking at it, right? Inside was still piping hot and flaky Mahi fish. Love these bite-sized snacks!

atter fried fish marriott goa

What is a Punjabi meal without Dal Makhani and Naan! Rich, satisfying and so creamy, this delicious mixed lentil dal left me floored and I couldn’t get enough of that naan either!

dal makhani marriott

We tried capturing the steam on camera as we opened the flour casing over this Mutton Dum Biryani and some of you may have caught it on my Instagram stories too! Set in deep silver cauldrons, the mildly cooked mutton is added to the fragrant rice and thereafter fused together. This biryani was low on spice, light on the stomach and makes you want to keep eating it!

dum biryani mutton

My favourite dish was the Rara Ghost! If you ever go to Marriott Goa, ask them to make it for you! It tastes like ROYALTY.. seriously!! It was so good that I tried ordering Rara Ghost at 4 other places during my visit to Goa but none of them came remotely close to this one. The lighter curry in the picture is Dhaba-kukkad or to translate literally, chicken from a restaurant/stall by the highway. Pair it with that flaky Lacchha paratha, and you’ll be on Cloud 9!

rara ghost dhaba kukkad

I’m not a huge fan of kadhi (yoghurt based curry with besan doughballs) so I just nibbled this dish. While the ever-popular rajma-chawal was good, I was too star-struck with the previous courses to pay much attention to it.

kadhi pakoda

*clears throat and points below*

gajar ka halwa

How amaaaazing does that Gajar Ka Halwa look! It had a divine taste and texture of milk, carrots and nuts cooked for hours, and wasn’t dripping with ghee. The dessert spread was actually pretty vast and featured all kinds of cakes (even a gajar ka halwa cake), but I took the traditional route and tried some pinni laddo too! Pinni Laddoo is a traditional sweet eaten during winter and is made of flour, khoya, sugar and nuts. Those who don’t like very sweet desserts would enjoy this one!
pirni laddoo

Last up, Chef Gurneet got me a gola!! Wheee!

Look at that happy face after all that decadent food! Little things like these make my day!

gola

That brings me to the end of ‘Punjabi Food Day’ at the Culinary Journey of India Food Festival! One of the chefs generously asked me to visit everyday to sample every cuisine – and as much as I’d have loved to, I got to keep the waistline in check 😛

I however LOVED the concept of the food festival and it is one that will open your mind along with your taste buds. You will experience a burst of taste as you travel from one corner of the country to another with Marriott Goa. There are 2 days to go, so make your way down to Bambolim soon!

Let me know your fave Punjabi dishes in the comments below and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Bye!

P.S. I know the pictures aren’t the best, but I did what I could given the lighting situation. <3

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

The Rajasthani Food Festival is underway at Grand Hyatt, Goa and ends on the 16th of August. It was my first time visiting the property, which is funny, considering I’m sampling the fare at Grand Hyatt Mumbai every second weekend! I was lucky to have made it to the bloggers table during this visit home and not only sample some decadent Rajasthani food, but also catch up for the first time with some other Goan food bloggers I’ve been interacting with in cyberspace.

grand hyatt goa rajasthani food festival

The Indian restaurant, Chulha was decorated keeping in mind the Rajasthani theme, with standing umbrellas and decorative fans made of colourful fabric. Little dolls dressed in bandhini + mirrorwork sarees hung everywhere and there were dozens of flower streamers for added ethnicity.

We sampled on some vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. I loved both the chicken starters, with a slight bias towards the Banjara Murgh Tikka, having a rich cashew base with a little crunch.

banjara murgh tikka

Although, how delicious does this one look!

chicken tikka hyatt

Bikaneri wadi aur subz ke seekh were looked cute and I couldn’t help but notice how consistent they all appeared. They were melt-in-the-mouth goooood!

shammi kebab

As we relished the starters, the mixologist gave us a live demo as he prepared our cocktails, explaining to us why he paired ingredients together and the inspiration behind them. Since the upper class folks of the Mewar region of Rajasthan enjoyed their whiskey, the Royal Mewar cocktail was made keeping that in mind. It was strange to see cardamom paired with whiskey in this cocktail, but those who tried it, absolutely loved it!

grand hyatt goa cocktails

I was torn between ordering lassi and a ramgarh milkshake and ultimately chose the Rose Milkshake. I’m glad I did because the Hing and Chilli Paneer Tikka proved too fiery for my tastebuds and a fragrant milkshake was the perfect antidote!

hing aur mirch ke paneer tikka

pithod ke tikka

All the Rajasthani classics featured in the main course of the menu and it was indeed fit for a Maharaja! In order to let us sample everything on the menu in small portions, the chef smartly presented it to us in the traditional thali.

We learned that though 75% of Rajasthais are vegetarian, the non-veg food is so legendary that those who eat it, devour it!

One such crowd favourite is Laal Maas (or red meat) – bright red hot gravy made with red chillies and mutton pieces. It was no-doubt, one of my favourites on the menu.

Another dish that had everyone singing its praises was the Maans ka Soweta – lamb chunks cooked in Indian spices, corn kernals, capsicum, red chillies and spices. The meat was so tender and well flavoured that we could tell it had been marinated for a long time! The gravy was amazing and thick too!

rajasthan food festival hyatt goa

What Chole Bhature is to Punjab, Dal Bati Churma is to Rajasthan – a classic with a history that’s as extraordinary as its taste. I loved this quintessential three-in-one-treat with baked bhaati/little dough balls in a spoonful of ghee, spiced dal and sweet, crumbly churma – it’s as fun to eat as it is to mix up!

Other things on the menu that featured in our thali included Ker Sangria (wild beans and local berries in mustard oil), Papad Methi Aloo Mangodi (potato, papad, fenugreek, dry lentil dumplings), Rajasthani Dal Dhokli (mixed lentils, chickpea flour and hing) and jodhpuri kabuli (saffron basmati rice with spices).

Desserts – the section to which my eyes are instantly drawn held only two items, to my disappointment. The Malpua, a deep fried pancake made of khoya and soaked in sugar syrup, served with rabdi, a condensed milk based dish is too delicious for words! I love mine slightly crispy, like the ones they have at Bhindi Bazaar and Mohammad Ali Road in Mumbai.

malpua and rabdi hyatt goa

We were also given a serving of badam ka sheera (a semolina based sticky dish with almonds) that was literally swimming in ghee! While ghee is an essential part of Rajasthani food, it was too rich for me to handle and I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful. I’d have loved to see some more desserts on the menu though – perhaps jalebi, dilkushar or rabri ghevar? Ooooh!!

Make your way down to Grand Hyatt Goa for a taste of Rajasthani Cuisine! We don’t really have restaurants in Goa that serve up authentic regional fare, and if you don’t plan on travelling to Rajasthan anytime soon, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a culinary trip there instead.

There’s a lot more of my Goa adventures to share with you guys! And God, so much food!

I love interacting with you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – so come over and say ‘hi!’

xoxo

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

I know I know…

Vasaiiiiiii…

How did I land up in this part of the world, you ask? Well, why not! If you’ve ever googled about restaurants in Vasai or cafes to visit in Vasai, you’ll find Google giving you a blank stare. So I decided to list down the options for those looking to grab a bite in this part of town. Apart from McDonalds, Dominos and Balaji, here’s where you can head:

Vasai East

East Side Café – Finding a proper sit-down gourmet restaurant in Vasai East is no easy task. Among the very few options available, this one is my personal favourite. This tiny restaurant has polished interiors and is a great place to grab a late night coffee (until 11 pm). The menu is limited but carefully curated and no dish you order will ever let you down. I tried the mocktails too and they were absolutely delicious. The drinks are crafted by the owner/manager himself, and with his background in the F&B industry, he takes it upon himself to make it perfectly!

Mad Over Fish – My joy at seeing a seafood restaurant in this part of town knew no bounds! Well, you know what they say about high expectations.. they always disappoint, just like Mad Over Fish did. The restaurant has a lovely, earthy ambiance but the food is pathetic and alcohol, highly priced. I ordered Goan prawn pulao – which, if you have eaten Goan food, know is nothing like this wet, gravy-topped, masala-rice dish in the image below. Goan fish curry, a dish supposed to be having a rich coconut base, had no coconut at all and the spice brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had better Koliwada prawns at the Koli festival in Juhu, cooked in an open stall. These prawns were hard, not too fresh, cooked in cheap oil and tasteless. You’ll have to fish for seafood dishes on the Mad Over Fish menu since they are pretty limited. If you do happen to go, I’d advise choosing off their Indo-Chinese menu – can’t go wrong with that!

mad over fish

Relish – Your go-to option when you’re home and don’t want to cook! Relish is your neighbourhood, no-frills-but-delicious food joint serving a mix of Indian food like butter chicken/kadhai paneer/dal makhni and naan, biryanis, pav bhaji and Indo-chinese staples like fried rice and Manchurian etc. Good food and value-for-money.

Hangout Cafe – From light bites like nachos and bruschetta to sandwiches, wraps, burgers, pizzas and pastas. Hangout Cafe is a fairly small eatery offering a wide variety of affordable continental fare. I only tried the Pizza which was decent for the price. It was loaded with toppings but I wish the base wasn’t so biscuit-like.

hangout vasai east

Vasai West

Pizzeria Fried Chicken (PFC) – Go here for the Twister Potato! Once you eat it, you’ll want to keep visiting the place every day, but it is a gamble since it is unavailable half the time! PFC is a small air conditioned restaurant with a huge, huuuge menu! Indo-chinese food, snacks, milkshakes and sandwiches feature on the menu. Skip the coffee – it’s terrible, but do try the bucket of chicken which has 10 pieces of super crispy pieces!

The Social Brew – “Eat here, or we’ll both starve” is the board that welcomes you as you enter The Social Brew. These folks really do have a sense of humour and besides serving up great food, they offer a good time too! Quirky seating options, a rack full of comics and books and the current playlist ensure you spend a decent amount of time at the restaurant. I happened to go there to satisfy a nacho craving and plan to go back to try the pizzas and pancakes!

Junkyard – While Junkyard is easy on the wallet, I wasn’t impressed by the food at all. The pasta sauce had a very glue-like texture, the pizzas were deep dish and hard, and their mocktails tasted worse than medicine. Definitely not going back until there’s a quality upgrade.

Papa’s Cafe – It’s hard to ignore Papa’s Cafe with their sunny yellow facade and glass windows through which you can see every table full, all the time! With a limited menu of flat bread, ciabatta, fries, pasta and dessert, everything here is in the range of 80-150, making it a popular hangout among college kids. The sriracha fried chicken ciabatta was exceptional and the piri piri fries were decent (although could have used some more sauce.) The desserts were a let down, with the red velvet item being served in a jar, looking like gloop and having chunks of chocolate inside, while the baked New York cheesecake had such a soggy base.

papas cafe vasai

papas cafe vasai

Frankie Corner – While the shawarma here is better than that at many other outlets, it can be a gamble going there. Sometimes, they run out of chicken at 8:30 PM, and at other times, they’re happily serving up roll after roll an hour later. You’ll find a lot of quick eats here such as the chicken cheese pav, chicken tikka and the like as well as cold coffee. The price is super reasonable and you won’t mind heading here for a quick evening snack.

frankie corner vasai west

Merwans – It takes every ounce of strength I have to not go into Merwans every time I pass by and to stuff myself silly with those delicious, flaky chicken patties! OMG, so good! Merwans is a cake shop that has numerous outlets across the city and is a good, super affordable place to stop for snacks. The patties are Rs. 14 and the subs and croissants aren’t much higher. Try the almond croissant and lemon pastry – you’ll love it!

mewans

Neopolitana Pizza – Neopolitana Pizza has a trendy set-up that’s hard to miss. They’ve got great music and is always buzzing with patrons. The menu has something for everyone, but the confused staff always mix up my orders and affably correct them. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet but the pizzas are nothing to complain about either.

neopolitana pizza

Andy’s – I really don’t know what to say about this place. I mean, it’s alright-ish. You’ll find minimal decor and most McDonald-style offerings here – burgers, nuggets, fries, coke, garlic bread, but I’d pick McDonalds over it because no one can beat their fries.

andys vasai

Pedal Power – This is SUCH a darling place and my new favourite in Vasai. The decor features various cycle paintings through the ages, there are cycles mounted up on brick walls, even the area where one would sit on high stools have a handlebar and pedals. The music is amazing, the menu is great and the decor makes you all happy! I tried the buttermilk fried chicken which was delicious however the home made nachos had an overdose of toppings on the top and absolutely nothing below. It would have done well with molten cheese instead of a layer of mozarella stuck together.

cycle cafe vasai

That’s about all for now! There’s still a lot more to explore, and I’ll keep updating this post with more places to eat at in Vasai as and when I try out the latest.

Got any tips on restaurants to visit in Vasai? Comment below!

See you soon!

No matter how good a home-cook you are, I can bet that you’ve wondered why your food doesn’t turn out to be “restaurant quality.” Of course, professional chefs have the training, tools and skills required – but what about the ingredients? Do they have an edge on ingredients too?

food innovation story bloggers meet Food Service India is a part of the VKL group – a company that started out as spice traders in Kerala and now brings state-of-the-art products to all segments of the food industry through integrated ingredient solutions. The products have been conceptualized and perfected by chefs who understand the world behind restaurant kitchen doors and are aimed the HORECA (hotels, restaurants, caterers) industry.

I was invited to understand how restaurant-quality food manages to give us the “OMG SO GOOD” feels time after time, with a behind-the-scenes lunch for 5 bloggers in Mumbai!

food service india office

Like on-the-job counselors, chefs in the Food Service India kitchen sit with restaurants chefs to discuss the best ways to undertake a menu expansion, revamp or even to build an entirely new menu. They offer demos and assist their counterparts in the F&B industry in conceptualizing dishes using the products offered by the company.

Food Service India has 5 brands with a massive array of products and launch new ones every month! These are Springburst (seasoning with no MSG added, mixes and broth), Chef’s Art (herb sprinklers, chicken glaze and marinade, pizza and pasta dough and masalas), Sunbay (gravy bases), Marimbula (fruit syrups) and Spicefield (spice powders, masalas, and seeds). Never heard of them? Me neither!

food service india products

I had the opportunity to taste at least 6 mocktails and indulge in a 5 course meal made by the team at Food Service India and I can’t express how blown away I was with what was served.

Like all FSIPL’s labels, I’d never heard of Marimbula. But the brand is the secret behind the exceptional cocktails and mocktails we’ve had at restaurants and pubs around the country. Marimbula offers a diverse range of Indian and international gourmet syrups – over 50 of them – all handpicked by mixologists and blended to perfection with 30% fruit concentrate. These syrups are the reason behind consistently flavoured drinks.

marim bula

Think about it – if you’ve ever ordered a watermelon cooler twice at the same restaurant, it wouldn’t be identical. Watermelons differ – some are sweeter than others and they all have varying water content. Using a syrup eliminates the inconsistency and delivers a taste that you’d never guess wasn’t a 100% real watermelon. I tried two non alcoholic sangrias (I know… how can a sangria be non alcoholic when it’s essentially only wine?) Well, this one was. Just 20 ml of Marimbula, some juice and other ingredients were used to create it. The taste – the smell – everything was EXACTLY like real wine. Only, without the buzz!

marim bula red wine sangria

marim bula white wine sangria

marim bula saffron and mango

The flavours range from paan to orange, saffron to coconut fudge, tamarind to white chocolate, vanilla to salted caramel, pomegranate, peach, mojito mint, roasted hazelnut, banana, black forest.. the list is simply endless! And each one is better than the next! This refreshing drink was the Berry Tea Cooler.

Sachin, the mixologist demonstrated how bartenders use syrups to whip up mocktails and every time a new mocktail was ready, we couldn’t believe how amazing it was. Trust me, I’ve had more than my share of Virgin Pina Coladas and NONE of them beat or will top the one I had at the Food Service India demo bar.

marim bula pina colada

I have to tell you about their paan syrup! I absolutely hate paan. The smell is an absolute put-off. When Sachin the mixologist made us a paan mocktail, I did put my disgust aside and sipped it! I was glad I did because it was beautifully fragrant without being overpowering and tasted absolutely divine! I was a little disappointed that we all had merely a sip, but drinking so many mocktails entirely wasn’t really practical.

marim bula paan

sachin FSI mixologist

Coming to the food, the FSIPL chefs brought out dish after dish and explained to us the products that went into it. The kathi roll was made using their tomato-onion paste and masalas, and the fries had been sprinkled over with Piri Piri seasoning. I was amazed to learn how simple it was! And how delicious!

food service india spices

Here’s the fried chicken! All the chef did was marinate the chicken overnight. But for that delicious crispy batter we all love, it was their packaged flour and Cajun breaded mix. Simply dip the chicken in the flour, dust it, dip in cold water, repeat and fry. He did it in 5 minutes and the dish looked like he’d been slaving over it for hours!

food service india chef

food service india crispy chicken

Oh My Goodness, how we drooled over those sauces! Would you ever guess that the mango-jalapeno dip and that rich ‘Green Goddess” sauce is mayonnaise based? Yup! A bowl of mayo, 5 grams of seasoning and a good stir is all it takes. The mango and jalapeno were as strong as if it had been made using fresh mango and jalapeno. And who would guess that behind that dark green colour is a bowl of mayo! Looks may deceive, but taste wise, it was spot on!

food service india dips

Next came the chipotle and mushroom soup with a white sauce base. The chef re-branded it as ‘Cappuccino’ and served it in a mug. All he used was white cappuccino, special aromatic mix and chipotle seasoning. Guys! The warmth and comfort that soup gave us all was like a blanket on a cold day! And taste-wise, like everything else, was unparallel!

mushroom and chipotle soup fsi

For the vegetarians, he whipped up a little fusion dish called Makhini Risotto using Makhani sauce. A strange combination, but boy, did it work! The creaminess and tangy tomato flavour came through in every bite and it was all done with sauces and seasonings!

makhani risotto food service india

The dish of the day, and one that had me and Neha (Everything On A Plate) in 7th heaven was quinoa and seabass with lemon butter dressing. Again, chef explained how he used his seasonings, spices and mixes to create this masterpiece that had everyone licking their plates and raving about long after dessert was over.

quinoa and sea bass Food service india

Lastly, dessert was served! Red Lava Cake and Payassam Lava cake were up for grabs. What was used to create it? Well a cake mix and water. That’s it! Look at that lava go! I haven’t had cake like this since… well… ever!

red velvet cake mix food service india

We ended the meal with Sachin making us 3 non-alcoholic Spiced Thai shots each! Watermelon and Ginger, Tamarind and Orange with chaat masala and cumin spice and chaat masala with salt and coke! You probably know how I’d rate it by now! Delish, delish, delish!!! The watermelon shot was super refreshing while the tamarind shot was good enough to put into a pani puri! The cumin one, we all agreed, was even better than jaljeera!

marim bula shots

marim bula shots (2)

It’s rare, very rare, that I don’t have a single bit of negative feedback for the range of Food Service India’s products. In fact, I wish it was available to the public so you could experience it yourself. How amazing would it be to make those dips in 2 minutes and say that you made them from scratch!

The next time you go to Dominos, Hoppipola, CCD, or literally any of 6500 restaurants around the country, know that Food Service India has a huge part to play in the food you’re eating. The only product available for consumers is Marimbula, the fruit syrups that are available in 200ml bottles on Amazon. To taste all their products first hand, we’ll all have to open our own restaurants! Oh well, more incentive to do so!

Hope you enjoyed this post! Comment below and let me know what you think. Bye!

Hiiii guys!

I’m stoked to finally share with you the places I’ve discovered in the capital! During my first visit a few months ago, I barely had 4 hours to explore some no-frills eateries. But then I visited twice more – once for the Tata Tigor launch and again, for the World Fair Trade Conference.

From a tiny, hole-in-the-wall café to a Bihari restaurant, here are some of my finds in Delhi!

ESPRESS-O-VILLE, Satya Niketan

The road on which Espress-o-ville is located is terrible, to say the least. Barricades, potholes and such horrible traffic that the idea of running into oncoming traffic is more appealing. If you have the (im)patience to brave the traffic in true Delhi-style, with generous honking and expletives, you’ll find this darling little café called Espress-o-ville!

A welcoming green façade with a sign that says “We’re not expensive. Try us” is enough bait. Inside, you might feel like you’re sitting in an old English couple’s living room – with pastel green walls, white vintage furniture, floral cushions, photo frames and wooden finishes. The food ranges from Italian to sandwiches, burgers and wraps and your choice of flavoured eggs with a great range of cold beverages, teas, mocktails and hot chocolate.

Espress-o-ville serves excellent breakfast, so it’s the perfect place to cure a hangover. While I went there to satisfy a pancake craving, the heart-warmingly friendly staff suggested the Tiramisu flavoured cappuccino to go with it. Tiramisu is an indulgent Italian dessert but thankfully, the cappuccino wasn’t a pure sugar rush. In fact, it was heavenly! Deliciously aromatic, richly flavoured and that buttery mouthfeel that’s proof of full bodied coffee! Would go back for it, especially since it costed less than Rs. 120!

Cosy on down, select a book  from the shelf (win!!) and spend the afternoon reading while you enjoy one of their many spectacular offerings!

BIG YELLOW DOOR, Satya Niketan

Looking for lip-smacking food on a budget? Here’s the door you should be knocking on. Located right next to Espress-o-ville, the yellow door is enough to grab your attention. If not, the long line outside surely will!

This dimly lit restaurant, called by its acronym, BYD, is anything but shady, however careless the interiors may look. It’s a popular college hangout and is always packed, thanks to their paisa-vasool offerings. They stock up on juicy burgers, pastas, milkshakes and winning fries amongst other things. Also, I’ve had the best Butter Chicken Pizza of my life here!

If you’re looking for something indulgent, their desserts are sinful. The Oreo Shake and Rocky Road are super popular but they also have intriguing offerings like the Red Velvet Coffee and Bomb Burger that are just as amazing. Proof of how popular BYD is among patrons is apparent when you look at an entire wall covered in messages written on hundreds of post-its. All in all, the service is friendly and you will leave stuffed, but without that hold in your pocket.

The portion sizes are generous, so it’s best you visit with a friend or two.

POT BELLY, Chanakyapuri

Pot Belly Café in Chanakyapuri is a wonderful respite from the bustle of Delhi. This one-of-a-kind restaurant offers the most authentic Bihari Cuisine. Yes, Bihari. Delhi is multi-cultural, after all!

You can choose to sit outside and gaze at the fresh, green lawn or indoors by the French windows which are just as charming. The interiors are extremely spacious, shabby-chic and homely. Wooden chairs, distressed tables and empty frames on the walls add to the simple aesthetics.

The food is as hearty as a home cooked meal. I tried the Pakora Basket, an assortment of batter fried vegetables that came in this interesting terracotta dish. Paired with masala tea in an equally quirky kettle, it was the ultimate combo!

Potbelly is famous for Litti Mutton, a dish comprising of wheat balls stuffed with roasted gram flour and other ingredients served with two vegetable side dishes. I didn’t love the litti, to be honest, although it was as authentic as it gets! That mutton, though! It was so delicious and spicy that it had us sweating through every bite.

Chinese, Italian and other global cuisines have become a little monotonous, haven’t they? If you’re open to embracing something Indian (that’s not Mughlai), I’m sure you’ll appreciate this gem!

MASALA TRAIL, Janpath

While driving past Janpath one night, we stopped for a bottle of Keventer’s Kit Kat Shake from a small take-out window at Janpath. It was then that we got a glimpse into the Masala Trail’s quirky interiors behind the window and returned the next day to try it out.

Masala Trail, like Elco in Mumbai, is the place to go for hygienic street food. The menu is vast with street food like Kachori with Aloo Subzi from Bihar, Dabeli from Gujarat, Thukpa from the North-East, Agra ke parathe, Tamaatar ki chaat from Varanasi and even Kerela styled Appam and Stew, to name a few.

This drink is called Bihari Namkeen or Meethi Sattu. Another first for me! I don’t know about you guys, but greens floating in my drink is so WEIRD!!

Colour makes me happy and this fun space has tons of it – bright metal chairs and sofas, intricate auto rickshaw paintings on the walls and even multi coloured crockery. For a place as multi-cultural as this one, there are sure to be authenticity issues. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting visit!

CAFE TONINO, Connaught Place

Definitely worth a visit for authentic Italian food! On first glance, the restaurant looks rustic with wooden finishes, blue and white zigzag patterns on the floor and yellow walls . One has to walk through arches through the various ‘rooms’ to choose a table.

I sampled the Gnochhi de Napoli con Pomodoro e Mozzarella de Bufala (all the dishes have names like these :P) which comprised of home made gnocchi with broccoli and mozzarella in a roasted tomato and herb sauce. Like all authentic Italian fare, this one had simple flavours that shone through in every bite. The gnocchi was plump, pufffy and paired so well with the sauce.

cafe tonino CP

Pizza Senza Pomodoro was another dish that I couldn’t get enough of! I’ve fallen in love with no-tomato pizzas since I tried one at Franceso’s Pizza in Mumbai. This one had feta cheese, mozzarella, beautifully sweet caramalized onions, olives, roasted garlic and fresh basil. The base was just right – soft and dought in the centre with crusty edges. Would definitely order it again!

cafe tonino delhi

Delhi is undoubtedly known for its tandoori food. Maybe next time, I’ll feature some of those!

Let me know if you’ve eaten at any of these places or have discovered a restaurant you think I should feature.

Stay in touch!

Hello again!!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about the new restaurants I’ve been discovering. As you know, I’ll never be able to review everywhere I’ve eaten at in full, detailed, blog posts, but here are some short thoughts and recommendations about spots I’ve visited in the last few months.

To make it easier for you to find and pull up a places I’ve been featuring over the last year or so, I thought of making a Google List! Sounds complicated?

It’s not!

Google List is a new feature of Google Maps and allows you to list down places you wish to visit as well as your recommendations – whether it is a list of weekend getaways or street food joints. So now you don’t have to keep looking through my archives anymore! I’ve marked all the #TGGFinds from every city I’ve been to on a list. The first one I’d like to share with you is called #TGGFinds-Mumbai. All you got to do is tap ‘Follow’ – and whenever you’re in need of a place to dine at, click on my list and find a spot I recommend, close to you! The best part? You don’t have to download anything!

Click to follow #TGGFinds – City Faves in Mumbai 

BOSTON BUTT, Kala Ghoda

Boston Butt has been on my radar ever since it opened, but since I rarely head over to South Mumbai, my visit was extremely delayed. Nevertheless, they lived up to, and far exceeded my expectations.

Go here for the meat! You can wolf down some pork ribs, pulled pork, smoked beef brisket and comfort food like good ol’ mac and cheese. The “four cheese mac n cheese,’ with bacon that I added, was wonderful! Rather than being ultra-creamy and rich, it had a fine bread-crumb like texture that made it so much more addictive! Their meat is smoked for over 12 hours over different types of wood and this significant detail makes the meat a class apart. However, keep in mind that when you order a non-veg dish, you won’t be sinking into a saucy chunk of meat, rather you will be served a small plate/portion which can be disappointing. The ambiance is Texan-New Orleans with leather seating, vintage photographs, taxidermy and mirrors.  When there’s a live band playing, you’ll never want to leave… unless it is to go home and slip into a food-coma. Vegetarians, there a lot of variety for you, too! I for one, would go back to try the huge chocolate chip cookie baked on a skillet!

FARMER AND SONS, Fort

I chanced upon this little restaurant quite by accident while wandering down one of Fort’s many tiny lanes. Farmer and Sons has a rustic chic décor, distressed wood furnishings, vintage mirrors and barrel shaped chandeliers. The menu is produce-centric, giving a healthy twist to all your regulars, hence the name. It’s surprisingly dark in here, too dark to even read the light-font menu or clearly see what you’re eating.

It leads with a thrilling compilation of salads and from there, you’ll find carb-centric dishes like pita pockets, pasta, sandwiches and a generous selection of pizza offered in either Neapolitana or classic thin-crust Romano styles. Cryptic dishes like ‘pear, fennel and auroblonchon cheese salad,’ OxyMoxy, Citizen Cane and the Donor feature on the menu (you’ll have to go there to figure out what these are.) Most have ingredients that haven’t been used much in India.

I went out on a limb that day and chose dishes I wouldn’t have ordinarily picked. The black hummus was decent and could serve three however the pita was tiny and inadequate. The braised lamb and aubergine wasn’t what I expected, either. It came in a puree form topped with nuts and had a very Turkish feel that was quite a surprise. The waiter recommended the baked chocolate truffle with figs infused in liquer and crème fraiche. While it was an okayish dessert, the presentation could use some work. My verdict? Stick to what they specialize in – the pizzas!

MRP, Dadar

This pocket-friendly, game-themed restaurant is perfect for after-work drinks, especially since it’s away from the din of Kamala Mills. Located a few steps away from Dadar Station. MRP serves alcohol at MRP if you commit to spending Rs. 750 per head on food. Eating here is fun – with life size Jenga and a gaming box on every table containing snakes and ladders, UNO and a book of drinking games.

Not just that, but there’s also a large screen TV to catch a match being broadcast live. Older folks may find it noisy, so if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing dinner, go to Grandmama’s Café downstairs instead. You’ll find progressive dishes from all over Asia such as Asian spiced shawarma, tenderloin baos, khao suey and pizza as well as many innovative cocktails. Skip the bacon wrapped prawns, it wasn’t the best! Instead, choose the khao suey or mac and cheese. The pizza is pretty good too and is served to you on a badminton racket 😀

KOFUKU, Bandra

While the cluttered side entrance of Kenilworth Arcade in Bandra is off-putting, Kofuku is different world altogether. It is brightly lit with a raised platform of tables, a long bar, paper lanterns, ornate décor and blonde wood furniture that make up its comfy, cheerful interiors. The Japanese food here is unlike any you’ll find in other “Asian” restaurants. It highlights the purity of ingredients and clarity of flavours at a moderate price for high quality Japanese food. Swift, smiling wait staff are quick to suggest from the extensive menu.

You’ll find sushi, sashimi, nabemono, curries and rice, tempura – all minimally spiced and prepared with utmost care. I tried the Sushi Platter and Tonkatsu Ramen – rich, comforting, slurp-able pork broth made from bones that have been cooked for hours, It had a soft cooked egg, super tender slices of pork belly, herbs and ramen that tasted like harmony!

Don’t be surprised to find celebrities here, it’s one of those elite places. Also, make sure you make a reservation before you go.

CHAI POINT, Lower Parel

From classic Masala Chai to Turkish Tea, this little outlet in Kamala Mils has everything you need for a rainy day. Steaming hot tea in various flavours including spiced mango and cranberry, filter coffee, maggi, vada paos and muffins. The menu at Chai Point is extremely limited, but the place is ideal if you want to catch up with a friend in a quiet place and not spend much. They also home deliver your favourite brews! I stuck to my favourite ginger tea and piri piri maggi.

Have you been to a restaurant you think I should feature here? Comment below and let me know or drop me a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

You could also check out my last two #TGGFinds – Mumbai posts. I’ve already added these places to my Google List:

Part 1 – featuring Honky Tonk, Chaos Control Cafe, Spesso, 145 Kala Ghoda and Dishkyaaon

Part 2 – featuring Pronto, Sammy Sosa, Pizza By The Bay, 212 All Good, and Asia Kitchen

… Also visit #TGGFinds Goa and Ahmedabad 

Bye!!

Everyone deserves a little luxury once in a while! For some, that may mean treating yourself to a spa while for others it may mean splurging on a designer dress. For a few of us, though, the best way to indulge is by making reservations at a fine dining restaurant to enjoy the food and attention! Here are some gems that offer a sophisticated dining experience in Mumbai.

Yauatcha– This restaurant has transformed a simple dumpling eating experience into something utterly desirable! The Michelin Starred Yautacha is a dreamy, moodily lit restaurant that takes familiar Cantonese dishes and serves them in a sophisticated, oriental-western setting. With over 2 dozen teas from around the world the restaurant almost teases you before you even order your meal.

Every steamed dumpling is a pure delight to eat and when dipped in chilli sauce, it takes on another level of fabulous! If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll devour the Three Stay Shui Mui – thin, hot dim sum pocketed with minced prawn and chicken. Their prawns are shipped daily from Thailand, duck and lamb from Holland and sea bass from Australia – proof that this fine dining restaurant places immense importance on quality.

Don’t get me started on their indulgent desserts – some of them are too pretty to even touch with your spoon. They’re probably the most Instagram-ed ones in the city!

Pa Pa Ya–Pa Pa Ya impresses your soul- thanks to the glamour it infuses in its ambiance and food. With crimson interiors and their fusion menu of sushi, it’s feels like a lovelier world from the moment you step in. The food, on the other hand is like edible art!


The menu at Pa Pa Ya has over a dozen pages with half of it dedicated to shareable tapas, sushi and dim sums and you can indulge yourself on starters without even having to order mains. Miniature sushi burgers, sushi pizza slices, deep fried soft shell crab buns with sriracha tartar sauce, and grilled chicken and avocado tacos made in gyoza sheet shells, Chiang mai sauce and mozzarella is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t miss out on the crisp lotus stem chips that are doused in an addictive smoky yet sticky honey chilli sauce.

The thumping energy and alien-like experience at Pa Pa Ya will transport you from the moment you step in – definitely worth checking this exclusive place out!

The Table – Looking for a place that’s fancy enough for fine dining yet warm enough to welcome you after a long day? Head to the Table. With their long wispy curtains that stretch from wall to walls, zig zag tiled floors and eclectic lighting, it has a complete bistro feel that’s intimate and casual at the same time.

The food ranges from chevre salad and lobster cakes to coppino fish stew and rawas with bok choy – diverse flavours rely on the expertise of their in-house chefs. While you wouldn’t go wrong ordering anything on the menu, try their handpuffs – savoury rolls of choux pastry that go perfectly well with the truffle polenta, and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. What brings an element of exclusivity to The Table is that it changes with time and changes their menu to include more experimental dishes.

Indigo Deli – We hear a lot about the perfect food pairings but besides food, Indigo Deli pairs simplicity with sophistication to perfection. Having many outlets in the city, it may not be exclusive, but it is definitely a place you go to indulge yourself. Inside, it’s not a five star set – up, but bare stone walls, effortless teak wood furnishing and the right blend of colour.

Their menu is far above average and dishes, flawless. Indigo Deli is renowned for their wafer thin pizzas and impeccable meat dishes, be it steak or pulled pork burger. Don’t miss out on ‘Eggs Divinity,’ a dish made of warm comforting scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach and roesti baked and perfumed with truffle. There’s plenty for vegetarians too, for example, the Grilled Moist with cheese tomato peppers. This is the right place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Their sinful desserts include hot dessert soufflé, dreamy lemon soufflé, and molten chocolate cake.

These fine restaurants are worth going to, if you want to taste heaven . So, get out and try these exclusive restaurants, that will pamper your soul. Speaking of exclusivity, the Limited Edition Maruti Suzuki Dzire Allure has plush interiors and enhanced comfort features like dual tone seat covers, white ambient light, elegant interior styling kit, stylish exteriors, and much more. Here ‘s where you can browse to see all the features of a car that will drive you to a lovelier world. Don’t forget to check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well!

Have a lovely weekend, guys! If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to spend it at Phoebe’s Farm!

-Jade

P.S. This post is sponsored by Maruti DZire Allure. However, views, as always, are my own.

Whether you’re staying in Goa, or just taking a short vacation, you’d know that eating out in the state can be an eye-watering experience. But here’s some interesting news! There are huge bargains to be had if you know where to look.

And by that, I mean in your App Store.

Let me tell you a bit about my latest discovery – Dubl’up! It’s an app that makes eating out in Goa extremely affordable, especially if you’re footing the bill. Dubl’up has a collection of offers from Goa’s finest cafes and restaurants across a wide range of cuisines at literally half the price – that’s because you get two of everything on the app for the price of one!

In fact, the app not just helps you save on dining out, but also on hotel stays, gym membership and even salon and spa experiences! Once you download the app and register yourself, you’re already in for a treat – a complimentary Dubl’up offer!

Then, as a customer, you literally have a plethora of options to choose from. From the ever-popular Aunty Maria’s, the classic O’Coqueiros, and even newbie Habanero, you can walk in to over 80+ restaurants across the state and avail of buy one get one free offers!

How it works:

  • Download Dubl’Up on your Android or iOS phone, sign up and create your own PIN.
  • Buy a Dubl’Up Dining Package at Rs. 699/- for food offers or Dubl Up Goa 2017 for Rs. 1499 food offers as well as hotels, spas and gym offers.
  • You will now have access to all the offers available on the app and new ones as and when they are updated throughout the year.
  • Apply the code DUJADE and save 15% on the package fee! This is only applicable for the 2017 packages, so hurry!

Done? Great – now comes the fun stuff!

  • Choose from the list of things to do – going to the spa, eating out, hitting the gym or booking a hotel room.
  • Browse hundreds of offers from different outlets and categories. If you choose to dine out, you can pick depending on the type of cuisine you’d like, whether you’re looking for fast food, indoor music, a/c and much more. If it’s a hotel room, take your pick from the kind of property and amenities they provide.
  • Make your way to the outlet of your choice and prior to ordering/billing, simply enter your PIN and get the restaurant official to enter the PIN of the restaurant and voila – enjoy a free appetizer, main or dessert when you order one!

 

When it comes to mathematics, I’m no expert. However, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how much one can save! Take for instance you get a three month gym membership at Rs. 8000/- and as per Dubl’up’s offer, another three months free! You save Rs. 8000 while spending only Rs. 1,499 by subscribing to the Dubl’up Goa 2017 Package.

And this is not even considering the fact that you’ll probably be eating out all year through and saving more while you’re at it.

Here are a few things you should probably know about the app. Any package you purchase is valid for a calendar year starting from Jan and ending in December and not for a 12 month cycle from, say April 2017 to April 2018. This means that that the later in the year you buy the package, the less validity time it has. But that’s nothing to worry about since you can avail of the package at discounted mid-year and year-end rates.

Goans, plan your next weekend meal at a place you’ve been dying to try out. Holiday-ers, book your stay on the app and go on a food trail of Goa’s best restaurants at half the price, and college kids, call up your equally cash-strapped gang and take them out for the birthday treat you’ve been putting off.

Dubl’up will be available in other cities shortly. Until then, enjoy the food and savings in Goa!

Go forth and download!

See you next time!

Note – This is a sponsored post, however, views, as always, are my own.

Well hello!

So I’ve been living in Mumbai for around five years now, during which time I’ve eaten in more restaurants I can count and experimented with numerous cuisines. Buffets, fine dining, street food, cafes, casual dining, Andhra, Thai, Sri Lankan…. name it!

Mumbai, after all, takes food seriously.

Strangely enough, I’ve never thought of doing a #TGGFinds –Mumbai series until someone commented about it on Twitter. I have done one on my city favourites in Ahmedabad and one on Goa so far, but in Mumbai, eating out is so routine that it never really struck me as special enough to write about. (Thank goodness I’ve clicked pictures wherever I went!)

Since a lot of my readers live out of the city and travel here, I decided to document the good and the great new places I’ve been discovering. Obviously, given the amount of time I’ve been here, I’ll need to do it over several posts – but you can be sure that these only feature the one’s worth spending time and money at.

Here are the ones that immediately pop to mind:

Honky Tonk, Orlem – Malad West

I was introduced to Honky Tonk by a good friend and fellow blogger, The Foodager, a couple of weeks ago. The very spot that the restaurant occupies has been home to at least 2 other restaurants during my time in Mumbai. I only hope this one sticks around until I publish this blog post 🙂

With it’s bright yellow seating and black and white tiles, it’s a place that instantly intrigues. I entered to find a small, narrow restaurant with eye-pleasing pop-art interiors. When you walk up to the front, you’ll notice the display counter full of microwavable containers with items like chicken wings, soups, salads, pastas, nachos – in general, a range of multi-cuisine snacks. On top are the breads, donuts, croissants and buns

Honky Tonk is a great place for college kids since the prices are pocket friendly, or rather, paisa vasool! My cold coffee came at Rs. 30, however it was more of coffee-flavoured milk than an actual coffee. The bun maska and pesto fish I ordered were great! By the way, they also serve beer! Overall, a great place to hang out with friends and eat cheap, delicious food.

Chaos Control Cafe, Parel

I’ve been here twice and both times I’ve shared pictures with you on Instagram. The response has been overwhelming, just as I expected. Because everything here… everything, costs Rs. 25/- What costs Rs. 25/- these days?

Situated just before the Hind Mata flyover in Parel, this cafe is located in the open air on a corner of the pavement. You’ll find varieties of sherbet (like butterscotch, mango and rose) , paan (like chocolate, strawberry, kesar and kolkata), tea/coffee and Varanasi toast (like mint, corriander, cheese and crushed olives) on the menu. I kept it classic both times with a kulhad coffee that was deliciously strong and a butter-sugar Varanasi Toast (four thick, toasted slices of bread).

A very few people know of this little gem and it’s mostly frequented by people who work in the surrounding corporate parks. Sincerely hope they keep up the great quality and pricing – while upgrading the service.

Spesso, Nariman Point

Whoever thought that vegetarian food is nothing but paneer and curries should give Spesso a whirl. They array of food is impressive – veg burritos, creole potatoes, mezze platters, cream cheese cigars, tapas, pizzas and wok-style dishes to name a few. This family restaurant has simple, elegant interiors but the place can get a tad noisy.

I visited twice – just for their outstanding desserts. Here are pictures of the divine oreo cheesecake and overly-indulgent Freak Shake that I had the first time. The second time I visited with friends, we ordered around five desserts including the gooey chocolate cake, classic mud pie and lava cake. While it looked scrumptious in the display, we didn’t anticipate it being heated before arriving at the table and the result wasn’t very Instagram-worthy. I’d recommend going with a few other people so you can try each others dishes because you’re missing out if you only have one.

I’ve got to mention though, over at Spesso, the service is always with a smile.

145 Kala Ghoda, Churchgate

If you live in Mumbai, there are high chances that you’ve already visited SoBo’s buzzing, hotspot. Designed with inspiration from the eclectic Kala Ghoda area, the all-day restaurant/café/bar uses elements commonly found on the streets of Mumbai. From kettles and aluminum crockery handing on the ceiling to buckets and umbrellas, it has all the madness and eccentricity that we love about Mumbai.

The menu is dope!! I loved every single item I saw on it and it has now become my mission to try EVERYTHING they have. Innovative things like Pav Bhaji Cones,  Animal fries, Naan Tacos and Chicken Tikki Baos should give you a glimpse into their playful menu. Adams Godfather was a drink that seemed interesting – Whiskey mixed with amaretto, apple juice and sour mix. Hmm…

They have a special menu for Sunday Brunch, which is when I visited for the first time. Together with a friend, we ordered scrambled eggs with bacon and toast, toblerone pancakes with white chocolate and kitkat and a caramel shake that came in a chocolate bottle which one can actually EAT!! God, how excited I was!

Even if you’re only in Mumbai for 24 hours, this is one place you HAVE to visit. Thank me later!

Dishkyaaon, Bandra Kurla Complex

Yet another quirky restaurant, woohoho!! Copper fire sprinklers, a ceiling full of kites and upside down lamps, a bathtub, telephone booths and swing seats at the bar is just the start of fairy-tale weirdness the ambiance is made up of.

Unusual and charming, this Dishkyaoon has a menu as fun as 145 Kala Ghoda. However it is restricted to putting a spin on Indian food. Filter Coffee matinis, bheja in a bun, chole empenadas, beetroot halwa pie, Lamb avial with idiyappams and Milkmaid & Peanut butter flan are some of the great stuff on offer.

I had the Vada Pav salad, a deconstructed version of the Mumbai street staple that contained a mix of tiny wadas, rocket leaves, pomegranate seeds, mint and garlic chutney and sev. Not bad at all! This place is crowded from the moment its doors open, so be prepared to wait for a table.

I’m really liking these innovative combos that chefs are coming up with, aren’t you?

Stuffed, Andheri West 

Stuffed is not really a new eatery as compared to the others, but the folks who know about it remain loyal.

There are three outlets so far – Andheri West, Andheri East and Powai, though the latter two are take-away joints only. I visited the dine-in restaurant in Andheri West. While it’s small, even by Mumbai standards, it is decorated well enough to look and feel inviting.

Serving simple Lebanese and Italian food, Stuffed is well known for being easy on the wallet (costing anywhere between 100-180 bucks) – a reason why you’ll always find a couple of tables of college kids at any time of day. They serve a range of shawarmas, pastas and salads that are delicious and generous in portion sizes.

I could go on and on, listing great places to eat in the city, but I think I should wrap this post up. Try and visit them this October and let me know what you think. Keep coming back for more #TGGFinds and also, please feel free to add your favourite spots in the city!

Till next time!

xoxo

I must admit, the first time I attended a dinner buffet at the Marriott, I left feeling thoroughly disappointed. So I was a tad skeptical when I was asked to review their Reloaded Sunday Brunch.

I’m so thrilled to tell you that it was a complete 180 degree turnaround!

It was evident how popular the Sunday Brunch was from the moment I stepped in. JW Cafe was quickly filling to the brim with families who wanted a leisurely meal at the best value.

Thankfully, I was one of the earliest people to get there – I find that brunch pictures are best taken before diners start making their way to the food. The dishes look their immaculate best. Untouched, as you’ll see in the pictures to follow.

AMBIANCE

Classy and contemporary, the ambiance at JW Cafe is one that cant be faulted. Ample natural lighting and relaxed seating aided in creating a comfortable, tranquil vibe. The tables are large and well spaced out so that even at the cafe’s busiest, it still feels private.

Gold and silver accents throughout the restaurant give it a warm yet expensive finish. To add to it all, the music was soft and peppy enough to brighten up a Sunday morning. It ticks all the right boxes, in my opinion!

SERVICE

There’s not much that I can say about the service. It’s a buffet, and one has to get one’s own food to the table. However, the drinks arrived pretty quickly and the manager at the reception makes sure you’re comfortable at least once during your meal, which is nice!

Oh, and how can I forget? They stepped it up a notch by sending this colourful, jovial clown to every table! I wonder if it’s a weekly thing…

FOOD

You won’t find wishy-washy eggs and juice at the Reloaded Sunday Brunch. Its one of those that you will take three hours to eat from and then totter away from the table unsteadily, stuffed to the point that it hurts.

I don’t even know where to begin describing what was on offer! The buffet literally spoils you for choice with cuisine spanning Indian, Arabic, Thai, European, Japanese, Australian, Street food and an INSANE dessert spread!

The centrepiece, if I may call it so, was a massive steel bucket with ice containing the legs of an Alaskan Crab. Each claw was stuck out towards the ceiling eerily, making everyone stop and stare for a minute.

The crab meat was spectacular – one of the best things I ate that morning! Succulent and sweet, it was served in the shell with barely any seasoning and tasted divine!

Right in the middle of the restaurant was an array of cold cuts and funky salads. I tried a slice of each – the turkey ham, blackforest ham, chicken salami, pastrami and salmon. It’s a rare thing to get good quality cold cuts these days!

I post multiple pictures of different kinds of bread on my Instagram page. For me, a day just isn’t complete without bread (maybe it’s a Goan thing – we are called Pao’s after all!) Don’t even get me started on the smell of freshly baked bread! I was sniffing all over this counter. Mmmmm….bread!!

The salads are petite, featuring three or four ingredients in palm sized crockery that makes you want to try them all, even if you aren’t a salad lover. Simple pan seared water chestnut with mayo, chicken and bell peppers, seared scallops with avocado and palm heart melon with asparagus were a few on offer. When the ingredients are fresh, they don’t need a lot to make them shine!

The noodles section was another great station. Choose from a range of noodles like Udon or Flat noodles and pair it with meats, veggies and sauces of your choice. It’s cooked just the way you like it, right before your eyes.

Similar to this station was the Pasta counter, a place where you can customize your pasta. While I looked for Pasta throughout the brunch, I only saw it on my way out of the restaurant as it was hidden somewhere on the side. Perhaps a signboard would have been a good idea.

For die-hard meat lovers, you can’t miss the lamb leg wellington and glazed chicken! Hearty and tender, they were as tasty as they looked. I would have gladly made a meal out of these, moreso because they had all the veggies I love on the side. But I merely sampled it so I’d have enough space for dessert.

High on my list of favourites that morning was the Soup station. In a large pot is was a thick, coconut soup called Laksa that’s popular in Singapore. Alongside, there are around 15 bowls with toppings including pieces of boiled egg, diced chicken, mushrooms, veggies, fried noodles, toasties and seasoning to add as per your liking. Coconut soups are always so rich and soul-warming and this one was no different!

I was happy to find that the Japanese section had more than just one or two types of sashimi which is generally the standard. There was a nice variety of rolls that were freshly prepared by a Japanese chef behind the counter.

In one corner, the chaat and shawarma counters looked a little lonely. Maybe because it doesn’t rank high on brunch food, or maybe because there were other more interesting looking (and smelling) food to try. I’d bet on the latter.

Okay, are you ready for the most impressive section? The range of was so expansive, it would qualify as a buffet on its own! From creatively crafted chocolates to indulgent mousses and from melt-in-your mouth cakes to airy macaroons, I was like a kid in a candy shop, literally. Take a look!

 

 

Like poetry, isn’t it? And there’s more where that came from!

If the sheer variety of food and value for money (approx Rs. 1500+ tax) isn’t enough, go for the dessert! By the way, for the quality and quantity of food available, don’t you think the price is a steal?

THINGS I’D LIKE TO SEE:

Although the food is displayed all around the restaurant, the drinks are kind of a mystery. It would be great if a menu with mocktails/hot beverages/juices were provided at the table.

Like I said earlier, the pasta and waffle counter isn’t visible for people sitting on the other side, so a sign of some sort would be helpful.

An egg station, I think, would do pretty well. Especially the make-your-own-omelette concept!

All in all, the Reloaded Sunday Brunch gets two thumbs up from me! Check it out next Sunday at JW Cafe in Sahar. More pictures on Facebook and Twitter!

Bye! xoxo

Note: My meal was sponsored. However, views, as always, are my own.

Hey hey hey!!

I’m back with another post on the #TGGFinds series (I’m super stoked that so many of you loved the last one on Goa!) Seems like everyone gets the romanticism of sipping a coffee or having brunch in quiet, little known cafés.

So here’s a list of cosy places that deserve to be known and visited in Ahmedabad! This is all I could cover in a weekend, so if you have one that you think should feature, let me know in the comments below. All I need is a reason to go back.

Apna Adda (The Kafe Keetli)

In a city like Ahmedabad that has colleges at every corner and a prohibition on alcohol, the need for a cheap hangout with excellent coffee is the need of the hour. The city is full of cafes – some with free wifi and buzz of coffee brewing and others with a cleaner, contemporary ambiance.

Apna Adda has none of that. It’s literally a coffee stand under a tree by the highway. Not the best in terms of hygiene, but the coffee was the best I had in Ahmedabad. It was tall, dark, rich, strong, handsome… ok, maybe not handsome, but you get the drift. It sure looked good, though! Loaded with chocolate hand-numbing-ly cold, it was was just what I needed on a hot day, out and about.

And taste-wise, it can send franchise coffee shops on a run for their money! They also do a good kulhad tea/coffee with light bites like sandwiches, pasta and pizza.

I hear they’ve opened a new outlet with indoor seating but I’m not too sure where that is.

The Project Café

The quirky yellow bungalow helps in making Project Café instantly identifiable in Ahmedabad. Art lovers or those in search of collectibles will have a fun time gazing around at the assortment of paintings on the wall, scarves and clothing on display and knick knacks from stationary to leather bags.

Each room has a mix of college crowd chatting, corporate folk grabbing a quick lunch/dinner and the occasional loner on his laptop. While it can be a little cramped and loud, the homey feeling helps to dismiss all of that. Adding to the “feels like home” factor is Parul, the host who hovers from room to room making sure everything is as it should be. I was telling the peeps on Twitter how she would appear at the table ever-so-frequently to ask how the meal was and when I assured her it was good, she would say ‘Really? Or are you just saying that?”

Much to my embarrassment, she also took me to various spots in the house to pose for a picture or twenty 🙂 Cute lady!

I ordered the French Crepes and Mexican Rice, both suggested by Parul as the house specials. It was pretty delicious and if I had some space in my already stuffed tummy, I’d have definitely tried some more. The menu also has a mix of small plates, mains, wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts. Everything is vegetarian, like in most places, which I had gotten used to by now – after getting stares on casually asking if a dish had chicken in it.

Varietea  

At first glance, Varietea isn’t very impressive. The entrance is just beside the main road under residential apartments with a pretty dusty front window. But when you descend to a floor below, it opens out into an expansive lounge with various seating options.

The ambiance is perfect to spend some leisurely time in. A huge bookshelf laden with books and board games coupled with a massive menu of every tea you can imagine make it a great spot to escape a hot afternoon or rainy evening in. I love the tea-related quotes on the wall, too!

Some of their signature teas are the choco-coconut tea, Christmas tea, energitea, birthday tea and silver needle tea. The menu also features ice teas and coffees, with accompaniments like French fries, nachos, sandwiches and options by the dozen. I opted for the Ginger Tea (my favourite) which came in a teapot containing three servings and a cutting-chai glass. Tasted just as good as the roadside one in Mumbai. Price wise, it is very reasonable! Also in the picture below is a cold coffee in a milk bottle and watermelon iced tea.

The staff seemed a little lost which is probably due to the fact that one needs to call them by ringing a small bell on the table. It results in them looking in the general direction of the ringing bell without knowing where to go.

One thing I’d wish they’d change is the sofa seating – they’re in desperate need of a revamp or at least some decent upholstering.

Now that I’ve been back in Mumbai for a week or so, I’m really starting to miss Ahmedabad. The lifestyle is much slower paced than it is here, in Mumbai. People really take their time to enjoy their coffee before rushing to their next engagement.

These cafes are pretty popular among people in the city so while they aren’t really hidden gems, they’re definitely worth a visit if you’re ever there.

Do you have any favourites? Share ’em with me in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe!!

See ya next time!