It’s easy for a tiny country to be lost among two giants, each with a rich and diverse culture and cuisine of their own. That’s Nepal for you. With India and China, two culinary greats by its side, Nepalese cuisine seems almost lost, forgotten. The cuisine itself isn’t one that fights for attention, but is mild and restrained, with simple flavours that wow the palate in a way that Indian and Chinese explosions of flavour cannot.

Nepalese cuisine made a quiet entrance into Mumbai’s competitive food industry just a few weeks ago, off the boisterous Link Road in Andheri. Mumbai’s first Nepali restaurant, called Yomari, is named after the traditional dessert of the land. Not only was it my first time trying the cuisine, but also, the first time I was the only blogger called to review it! Double win!

AMBIANCE

Yomari is a tiny 4-table restaurant in Andheri West, Mumbai and a few steps will take you from the main entrance to the kitchen. A tiled, covered patio in the front suggest that a couple of more tables will be added for outdoor seating. Inside, it is minimally decorated with Nepalese trinkets, a statue of an elephant and over the kitchen door, a wall to wall back-lit image of the Himalayas.

SERVICE

The restaurant being so new, there were no servers been hired yet. I’ll update this section on the service when I visit again.

yomari mumbai

FOOD

The menu features traditional Nepali staples such as Jhol (soups), Khaja Ghor (snacks), salads, ‘tummy full meals’ which comprise of various proteins over rice, Momos (of course!), Sadeko (munchies), Sekuwas and Chhoilas (Grilled/BBQ styled appetizers).

Soya Sadeko – For starters, I was served a traditional cold dish called sadeko with puffed rice, bamboo shoot pickle, and a glass full of some epic chaas! Unlike other soya items that are eaten with rice or roti, you just pop these soya chunks into your mouth. Right from this starter onwards, the food at Yomari kept me guessing what spices and techniques were at work!

soya sadeko yomari mumbai

Chicken Sadeko – While this chicken starter as well as the earlier soya one was novel, I liked this one slightly more than soya sadeko as it had more flavour and was so tempting! Chicken is shredded, tossed and further sautéed in spices and herbs to renew its rich flavour that appears almost like a salad. This was served with crunchy, beaten rice and tart radish pickle that I absolutely couldn’t get enough of!

chicken sadeko yomari mumbai

Shrimp Salad – Seafood in Nepal?? Hmm.. I’m not sure about that one, but I kid you not, these prawns were probably the best I’ve had in Mumbai, and they weren’t even ‘Goa-style’ spiced and fried like the way I usually like my prawns! Cooked to perfection and minimally spiced, the prawns were steamed and served with an assortment of spring veggies, sprinkled over with pepper and herbs and tossed in a delicious, zippy dressing. Bang on perfect!

shrimp salad yomari mumbai

Chicken Chop – I loved how light and delicious these starters were! They reminded me of the ones Mum makes at home, however the spices were much milder like Nepali food is supposed to be. These crumb fried minced chicken and mashed potato chops were served with a spicy chutney and salad and I could have easily eaten half a dozen.

chicken cutlets yomari mumbai

Chicken Momos – From high-end nibble restaurants to dingy bhattis, momos are ubiquitously popular everywhere, especially up north. Maybe I’ve eaten too many commercialized momos, but these seemed a tad too bland for my liking. Either way, the chilli dipping sauce gave it a boost.

chicken momos yomari mumbai

Mushroom and Cheese Momos – These were among the freshest mushroom momos I’ve eaten. They were sooo juicy and the chilli sauce paired well with them, too. Mushrooms being soggier than chicken, all the delicious flavour got infused in the translucent shells as well, making it even juicier!

mushroom cheese momos

Mutton Sekhwa – Sekhwa is a quintessential street food item which is sort of like satay or kebabs, but without the skewer. Like most of the dishes served, this one came with that scary-looking chilli on top, but it wasn’t spicy at all! What was intriguing was that it was neither saucy or dry, grilled or fried – the Sekhwa was just the right mix of everything with fragrant herbs and ground spices! I’ll even go out on a limb to say that kebab’s got nothing on the Sekhwa! It’s easy to see why this is a local favourite. It definitely was mine!

mutton sekuwa yomari mumbai

Mutton over Rice – Maybe I was just a little too stuffed at this point, but I felt that the flavours of the mutton sekhwa overlapped a lot with the mutton over rice. The meat, however, was much more tender as compared to the Sekhwa and the flavours were a lot milder. Served over steamed rice, this one is a meal in itself.

Yomari – Finally! I couldn’t wait to try these fish-shaped dessert dumplings after which the restaurant is named. Available with two filling choices – dried fruit and chocolate, it is prepared to worship the goddess of grain, Annapurna during the full moon after the harvest. I tried the dried fruit one which had a mix of coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and nuts served in a warm, thickened milk. This isn’t one of those indulgent desserts, and it’s mild sweetness didn’t send me on a guilt trip – so thumbs up!

yomari andheri

Food lovers who want to try something unconventional, yet traditional at the same time, round up your friends and head over to Yomari! It wont be long before you’ll have to wait for a table at this little gem of a place!

Meal for 2: Rs. 600

Address: Sterling CHS, Sundervan, Lokhandwala, Andheri West, Mumbai

Until next time!

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

Inspired by the ‘daily’ or the morning newspaper, The Daily Bar and Kitchen (formerly known as simply ‘The Daily’) used to be a popular watering hole just behind Shoppers Stop in Bandra. Since they’ve undergone a renovation late last year, there’s been a lot of changes taking place at this restaurant – the latest being that they’re open for lunch all week long!

Bar comes before Kitchen at the Daily and that’s because they’ve got their drinks down to a science. While experimenting with classic drinks like Sangrias, they’ve also got refreshing cocktails and mocktails and an impressive range of alcohol!

the daily bar and kitchen

The new menu is fresh, healthy and downright delicious! Vegans will find plenty of options here –salads like Three Watermelon, Herbed Quinoa and Poached Pear & Baby Arugula is just the tip of the iceberg!

AMBIANCE

While there’s no dearth of bars and eateries in the area, the Daily Bar and Kitchen has been a long-time favourite thanks to its ability to stand out with quality and consistency. This monochrome themed restaurant has an alfresco section that’s slightly larger than the a/c section. The theme of the restaurant is upheld by posting various news articles all over, similar to the viral ones you see on Buzzfeed. Overhead as well, you’ll find sheets of news hanging from the ceiling. They have a great choice of upbeat music too.

SERVICE

The service was particularly slow on the weekend that I visited. When I entered, the place was empty and our first dish came to us quickly. From there on, the place filled up and service lacked in almost every aspect but politeness. The staff seemed a little scattered and dishes took painfully long to arrive. At one point, we were so bored that we ordered French Fries. After having main course (which again took an eternity to arrive), our French Fries arrived along with dessert.

the daily bar and kitchen menu

I will give them full marks for their recommendations though. A couple of times, we went with their selection even though we had mentally crossed it off and it was spectacular!

FOOD

Price-wise, the menu centres around Rs. 300 to Rs. 450, which is quite reasonable for the quality and quantity served. But like I said, the food took forever and a day to arrive but in most cases, it was definitely worth the wait!

Mocktails

I ordered the Midas Touch (super sweet) and Tiffany Twisted (pretty good!)

Haloumi Cheese and Watermelon Bites

I LOVED this dish and it was one of the better starters of the day. It was pretty to look at, fun to eat and was an explosion of flavour and texture. The figs give it a fabulous meat-like, yet nutty taste; the cheese was flavoursome and watermelon was sweet and juicy. Decorative dots of various sauces all over the plate and mango salsa made it visually appealing and added more flavour.

haloumi cheese and watermelon

Pan-Seared Tofu Stir-Fry

I didn’t like this one! It had a weird after-taste that was off-putting but we ate all the yummy baby bok choy on the plate.

pan seared tofu stir fry

Slow Roasted Pork Sandwich

Loved everything about this sandwich! The bread was buttery and toasted to perfection. The pork is said to be imported and I must say it was spiced wonderfully! I wouldn’t have thought that pineapple paired well with pork but it added a whole new depth of flavour. Every bite of this home-cooked-like sandwich was a pleasure!

slow roasted pork sandwiches

Buerre Noisette John Dory

I hadn’t even considered ordering this but did so on the strong recommendation of the wait staff. This was the best one at the Daily Bar and Kitchen. A Pan Roasted Australian white fish served in plum tomato and kafir lime risotto with a butter-line sauce! The tanginess and tartness of the sauce was complimented by the delicately seasoned, perfectly cooked fish. The perfect crispy skin on the fillet was brilliant and we couldn’t stop digging in. Highly recommended!

Buerre Noisette John Dory The daily bar and kitchen

Nutella Sea Salt Pancakes

The pancakes looked like more of a cake than a pancake and had more flour than nutella. It was delicious, nevertheless and I could get the saliva-inducing taste of sea salt mixed in with the chocolate. Only, after a large meal, a heavy dessert like this one was a struggle. I’m not sure if it was the long wait time or the hot pancake, but the whipped cream on top melted into a puddle of milk by the time I got it.

nutella pancake the daily bar and kitchen

Dark Chocolate Chip Waffles

The dessert selection is limited to 4 heavy items namely waffles, two kinds of pancakes and French Toast. I’d have loved to see something cream or chocolate based on the menu such as a cheesecake, sundae or panna cotta. Anyway, the waffles were decent. Could have done with some chocolate sauce!

waffles the daily bar and kitchen

Drop in for a Sunday Brunch or weekday lunch and you’ll have the place all to yourself. If you drink, you’re bound to love it!

Price for 2 – Rs. 2000 with alcohol

Address – Ground Floor Behind Shoppers Stop, SV Road, Linking Road, Bandra West

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After opening two restaurants bearing the same name in Dehradun, husband-wife duo Manoj and Ekta recently launched Best Buddy’s Café, close to Mega Mall in Oshiwara, Andheri. Here’s a look at the sunny café from my perspective!

best buddy's cafe

AMBIANCE

A large picture window allows streams of light to flow in, but that’s only the start of what makes me feel warm and happy inside. The adorably quaint restaurant has interiors that are a mix of wooden finishes, colourful thread cushions, white chandeliers and blackboards all around with motivational phrases written on them.

best buddys cafe

To add to the mix, there’s a neon sign that flashes ‘bla bla bla’ and a ‘naughty corner,’ both of which brought a smile to the faces of everyone who visited. Even the tables have a colourful mix of glasses with various condiments in bottles of various shapes and sizes. To add to the laidback-vibe, there are a board-games like UNO and Jenga to ensure you keep your phone aside and enjoy some quality time with your friends and family.

best buddys andheri

best buddys cafe

SERVICE

The service could definitely be improved. The waiters weren’t very attentive and seemed to be engrossed in each other’s company. However, the restaurant is very hygienic and the owners do make small talk with patrons whenever they can.

that goan girl best buddys cafe

FOOD

I was pleasantly surprised to see the variety of food offered at Best Buddy’s Cafe. Hot and cold drinks, coolers, slushes, shakes, smoothies, pancakes, eggs, salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, small bites, meaty dishes and more feature on their menu.

Kit Kat Shake

Kit Kat, like Nutella, is wonderful on top of anything! This incredibly irresistible milkshake is a creamy, smooth concoction that pairs so well with cheesy conversations with old friends.

best buddys kit kat shake

LAD Sangria

I’m not sure what LAD stands for, but this fruity drink is a great substitute for those wanting to skip indulgent shakes and coffees. It comprised of pink lemonade with a melange of fruits and herbs.

LAD Sangria Best Buddys Cafe

Peanut Butter Shake

All through childhood, I detested peanut butter. Thank God I got over that because I wouldn’t have missed this delicious shake for the world! It was so decadent that one would need a nap after drinking it. A great guilty pleasure, I must say!

Peanut Butter Shake Best Buddys Cafe

The O-Ring Shorty

After French Fries, Onion Rings are my second favourite munchies! I had given up hope of finding another place that served them after Pizza Hut took them off the menu. The only other place I’d found them at was Cream Centre, which was oily and bland! On the other end of the spectrum, Best Buddy’s Café’s Onion Rings were even better than Pizza Hut! Wonderfully spiced, so crispy and not a drop of excess oil! They were served with thick sour cream. Don’t they look good enough to make you want to lick your screen?

O ring Shorty Best Buddys Cafe

BBC Chicken Wings

These Chicken Wings in BBC’s signature BBQ sauce were sweet, smoky and sticky enough to make me very, very happy! Chicken wings are usually difficult to eat with a fork and digging into them like carnivores are the preferred way of getting all the meat. Surprisingly, these were so tender that one cut made with the fork was enough to get all the meat out. That’s saying something!!

BBQ chicken wings best Buddys Cafe

Texas Toast Sandwich

Substantial enough for a mid-day snack, this Texas Toast sandwich comes in three variations – paneer, chicken tikka and BBQ grilled chicken. I tried the Paneer one that came loaded with fresh, lightly-spiced paneer, cheese and fresh veggies. Very wholesome indeed! The golden potato wedges that came alongside were seasoned and fried to perfection too!

texas toast best buddys cafe

Chicken Shawarma

I’d say the Chicken Shawarma was one of the average dishes of the day. Not because it had anything wrong with it, but because the other dishes set the bar high! While it was creamy with a generous amount of chicken stuffing in the grilled pita roll, I missed a few things that traditional shawarmas have. The garlic taste coming through in the sauce and pickled beets inside, to name a few.

chicken shawarma best buddys cafe

Pizza Chicago Style

Thin Crust. Crispy Edges. Loaded with meat and cheese. The trio that makes a pizza great! Check out this one – ticks all the boxes, doesn’t it? It was loaded with chicken ham, sausage and salami, tender onion rings and bell peppers, olives and a few leaves on top to take away that guilty feeling.

chicago style pizza best buddys cafe

Alfredo Style Pasta

In my opinion, this dish was a bit of a let-down. Perhaps I’m more of a “pasta-so-rich-and-creamy-it-will-stop-your-heart” kinda person. I felt this one needed more cream, more garlic and more cheese.

pizza alfredo best buddys cafe

BBQ Chicken Steak

An outstanding dish right at the end. This succulent chicken breast was stuffed with olives and jalapenos and is the kind you don’t want to share. I personally loved the creamy spinach sauce at the side and would eat it like soup if I could! The mashed potatoes could have been way better – along with the plating.

chicken steak best buddys cafe

WHAT I LOVED:

The ambiance and games! Definitely a great option to hang-out with friends!

Affordability – Best Buddy’s Café seems to have got the pricing right. Most of the items are very affordable and offer value-for-money in terms of quantity.

Apart from one or two dishes (which were above average), the plating and taste of most of the items were wonderful!

french fries best buddies

WHAT COULD BE BETTER:

Better service

A washroom in the premises

I didn’t get to sample any of their desserts, but since none of them are prepared in-house, I didn’t feel like I missed out on much. I definitely recommend you give this place a visit when you’re shopping in the Lokhandwala area or passing through Andheri West.

Cost – Rs. 800-1000 for two

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There’s a sudden surge of terrace restaurants opening in the Lower Parel Area. From 1Above to Asilo and Grapevine, all of them offer an uninterrupted view of Mumbai’s concrete jungle. However, it’s not often to come across a restaurant that, at barely a month old and with over 40 tables, still has people waiting for a seat at 11 pm on a Thursday night.

That distinction belongs to Sheesha Sky Lounge. Located in Raghuvanshi Mills, a few steps away from Palladium, the restaurant is an instant hit among hookah lovers despite serving no alcohol. Sheesha Sky Lounge is known for their sheeshas (of course), massive array of Mughlai food and long list of kebabs.

AMBIANCE

The ambiance at Sheesha Sky Lounge is casual, friendly and unpretentious. The buzz and laughter that greets you as you enter makes you feel like you’ve entered the restaurant as a big, family party is underway. The restaurant provides the options of dining indoors in a non-a/c section and outdoors in the open, both of which are smoking areas.

Outside, there are four long rows of tables starting with high backed chairs and sofas towards the wooden walls, metal chairs and tables with lovely tan brown cushioning in the centre and turquoise blue half-moon chairs towards the end. The brightly coloured floor tiles interspersed with black ones, coupled with vibrant seating gives the restaurant an unconventional look. Right down the middle is a huge cage-like structure made of chains that hold a row of tables inside!

To the right of the entrance, you’ll find a glass partition behind which is the indoor arena – smaller and slightly cramped as compared to the outside space. The highlight is the massive sheesha bar that stretches from end to end in black and white, complete with bar stools!

SERVICE

The service is simple, pretty quick and smart. It was good to see wait staff being proactive and offering mocktail and food recommendations. Don’t miss the sinister looking man in a long black robe and red fez hat. He goes round the restaurant, giving every table a hookah and refilling coal in them. The guy really plays the part!

FOOD

Sheesha Sky Lounge serves some of the richest and most elaborate Mughalai delicacies like Biryani, Kebabs, Chicken Tikka, Korma, Rogan Josh and lots more. Other than these, you’ll find soups, seafood, Mughlai flavors like Koftas, Makhanis, and mouth-watering preparations of mutton. Interestingly, they also have a section of Nawabi cuisine such as Rann Sikhandari and Ghost Irani Pulao as well as Arabic dishes such as Mutton Khepsa rice. It doesn’t end there – you’ll also find a lot of Indo-chinese food, pastas and sizzlers!

Melony – Being a teetotaller, I love exploring the world of mocktails. I randomly picked this off the menu and was more than pleased with it! A great, refreshing summer drink, it comprised of a soothing blend of fresh watermelon and mint muddled with passion fruit and topped with pineapple juice. Bright red, vibrant and punchy, it’s basically sunshine in a glass.

Sundowner – The Sundowner was good, just not as good as Melony! This concoction was a twist on a classic lemonade and had fresh pineapple juice and cubes, lemon juice, gomme syrup and of course, lemonade. Sweet, tangy and tropical, I could knock these back all day!

P.S. If you like experimenting, check these mocktails out!

Murgh Jalandhari – I don’t know about you guys, but extreme ‘Indian’ menus confuse me. I don’t understand the difference between Murgh Pankhudi Kebab, Murgh Seenah Kathi Kebab, Murgh Gilafi Seekh and Murgh Zaitooni Tikka – especially since the names gives nothing away! I ordered Murgh Jalandhari Kebab on the waiter’s recommendation. The description mysteriously stated “chicken marinated in Jalandhari style.”

Soft chicken kebabs were brought to the table, still piping hot and sizzling from the tandoor. It was marinated in the chef’s signature spices and the flavours were enhanced with the addition of cream. I liked that it wasn’t dry, like tandoori kebabs can sometimes be, but I’d suggest opting for something else if you’re looking for kebabs.

Stuffed Malai Kumbh – Mushrooms are one of my favourite things! So is cheese! I quite liked this rich starter comprising of button mushrooms deep fried with cottage cheese and Amul cheese, marinated with flour and pepper. They were juicy, flavourful and had a fragrant aroma. I’d have liked it more if the cheese was slightly more molten and less firm.

Nalli Lahori –Lahore draws food lovers from across the country to sample its mind-boggling variety of decadent food. When I saw Nalli Lahori on the menu, I was intrigued Firstly, because, well, Lahore!! And secondly, while all other dishes had long descriptions beneath them, this one’s description simply read, ‘Sheesha’s speciality.’

This dish blew my mind! It looked perfect – the right brown colour, soupy gravy, a thin layer of oil on top for good measure and four huge shanks of tender mutton on the bone. I thoroughly dipped my tandoori roti into it and at the first bite, that mix of dozens of spices hit me instantly – just how I like it! Not to mention, the bones had generous amounts of sinewy meat and were full of marrow which was a pure delight to eat! I could go on and on about this wonderfully balanced dish, but let’s just say it was flawless in all its Nawabi glory! We were also served the necessary condiments of sliced lemon, onions and the works. Highly recommended!

Malai Firni – I didn’t let the waiter finish reciting the desserts, which led me to missing out on the coconut rabdi, awadhi kheer and shahi tukda. Instead, I went with the first one he said – Malai Firni *sigh.*  It came in a clay ‘matka’ and looked pretty, however it had a paste-like texture as compared to the other firnis I’ve eaten. Taste wise, it was not overly sweet but wasn’t as creamy as I’d like. The firni was topped with a generous amount of nuts and I could smell the wonderful aroma of rosewater coming through. I wouldn’t order it again, to be honest.

WHAT I LIKED:

The enthusiastic staff – When I asked the waiter for his opinion on what starters to order, he was fully convinced that a certain dish was “the best.” He even had a (very good) opinion on what naan/roti would go well with the Nalli Lahori and voiced his opinions instead of merely taking the order

Ambiance – While I’ve dined in rooftop restaurants before, none of them had the feeling of sheer expanse like this one did! I also loved the variety of seating choices available!

Nalli Lahori – It was the bomb!! That is all 🙂

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED:

Too much of going by the rule book – As we were nearing a table meant to seat 4, the wait staff promptly said – “this is a table for 4. The tables for 2 are over there.” The restaurant was at less than 40% occupancy at that time, so I didn’t see what the big deal was about. Also, as many of you know, when I review a restaurant, I leave behind a sticker somewhere that says “That Goan Girl was here. Read the review!” Till date, not one restaurant has objected to me putting one tiny sticker on the wall – in fact, they often ask me to bring one along! Not only did Sheesha Sky Lounge refuse, but when I stuck it outside the elevator, a few meters away from restaurant’s exit, they took it off the next day! How rude!

The music – It ranged from blaring loud to mid-volume, English to Hindi and even Punjabi, fast paced to slow. It was quite a mess, actually.

If you have never smoked a sheesha before, then Sheesha Sky Lounge is the perfect place to initiate you into it. It is chilled out and laid back – eons away from the shady parlours of your worst nightmares!

Meal for 2- Rs. 1500 + alcohol

Getting there – P2 Building, 4th Floor, Roof Top,Terrace Raghuvanshi Estate, S.B Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai.

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Located between two party towns, Siolim and Vagator, is a convenient hangout. Soro, meaning alcohol in Konkani is fast becoming a popular live music spot for locals and tourists.

From the outside, it looks like an abandoned, rundown house – with barely any paint, bricks showing and cracked walls that would otherwise make you drive past without a second glance. What sneakily give it away are the vines of fairy lights and lamps that emit a warm glow, inviting patrons like moths to a flame.

AMBIANCE

Soro is like a throwback to an old village tavern in the years gone by – and everything from the exteriors to the galvanized iron roofing retains the old world charm of its original structure. The walls are left untouched, which gives the entire place a rustic feel, but the theme is also subtly enhanced by the cleverly conceptualized industrial-looking interiors.

The restaurant was formerly a soda factory and that look has been maintained flawlessly. Large, exposed A/C vents, heritage tiles, bald filament bulbs, vintage graffiti and shaky looking furniture adds to its quaint ambiance. The modern touch can be seen when you look at the bar – a fine mix of dull bottles and bright popping coloured ones on a shiny rack.

On the night I went, the music was nothing short of brilliant. A DJ played a mix of songs from the 90’s and each one was better than the last – giving us all the nostalgia feels! On certain nights, Soro has live music, but I’m not sure how comfortable that would be for diners. Considering that the place is small, I have a good feeling that the music would be a little too loud to allow conversation.

There are two choices of seating – either prop yourself up on old-world bar stools around a table indoors or sit on long benches and communal-looking tables outside under a canopy of trees. I chose the former.

SERVICE

I’ve read zomato reviews where a majority of people said that the service was lacking. I didn’t find it slow at all, but then, the restaurant was at 40% capacity the day I visited.

FOOD

Batter Fried Calamari – The first dish I ordered, and it wasn’t that impressive, to be honest. Calamari is a great dish to satisfy that restaurant-appetizer itch and tastes best when the batter is light and crispy. This came with a thicker, slightly soggy batter that I wasn’t a fan of.

Southern Fried Chicken- Got to love chicken with that extra craggy crust and tender meat inside! This was one of the better dishes of the evening. The seasoning was just the right kind of ‘spicy’ and it was low on grease! Potentially winning dish, right here – I only wish it came with coleslaw instead of cabbage.

Chicken Cafreal with Poi – While the restaurant has a multi-cuisine menu, there are plenty of Goan food options and I had to try one! We picked Chicken Cafreal with Poi (Goan bread) – a popular Sunday lunch dish and one that’s equated to Goan cuisine! This one was average and not the best I’ve ever had. It possessed the wonderful blend of aromatic spices but I personally love it when the flavour goes all the way into the meat – which wasn’t really the case here.

Masala Mutton – Soft, tender chunks of mutton in Indian-styled spiced tomato gravy really hit the spot. It had a wonderful smoky flavour and aroma, and went well with simple rice. One of my pet peeves is seeing wonderful dishes being garnished with thick slices of onion. If it’s not an Indian restaurant or a dhaba on the highway, why consider garnishing this way?

Pork Ribs – We have this thing in my family – whatever my brother orders for himself turns out to be the best dish of the night, and we eye his food throughout the meal until he’s forced to share. Case in point – these pork chops! Served with sautéed vegetables and Soro’s special sauce, they were lip-smacking good! It was flavourful, delicate and tasted like a delicious mix of soy sauce, ketchup, honey and garlic.

Mix Fruit Chocolate Rolls – When I ordered this, I pictured a roll stuffed with fruits and chocolate sauce on the side. However, the roll was stuffed with chocolate and came with ice cream served on a slice of pineapple. I’m not complaining, it was an absolutely delicious dessert – hot and crispy on the outside, with warm, molten chocolate paired with ice cream – yum! Got to love flaky pastry!

Banana Fritters with Ice Cream – Sweet, batter-fried bananas with a drizzle of honey sauce and scoop of ice cream – one can’t go wrong with an easy combination like that, and Soro didn’t. However, it could have been presented in far more appetizing way!

WHAT I LIKED

Ambiance – Definitely going back to chill out in here just for the ambiance! And if that epic DJ is playing again, so much the better!

The “sportsy” feel – Whether you want to shoot some pool on the table outside or watch the football game on one of their TVs, Soro seems like the perfect place to do it! Maybe it’s just the masculine-like vibe it has going on.

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

Presentation – While I love eating on the streets and at cheap places, I don’t like “dhaba style” garnishing and presentation at upscale restaurants.

Overall, Soro is a far cry away from glitzy clubs that dot the tourist belt. It’s uniquely Goan and appeals to the global crowd as well. Definitely worth a visit!

Meal for 2- Rs. 1200 + alcohol

Getting there – Assagaon, Siolim Road, Vagator, Goa

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The Baga-Calangute strip has recently seen a dip in splashy, upscale ‘dining experiences.’ The area is now littered with cheap rooms, cheap food and cheap everything else. It’s quite a surprise to come across a stylish-looking eatery amidst the chaos these days.

Buried in one of the by-lanes is the area’s newest entrant, Habanero, a trendy Tex-Mex restaurant. It managed to create quite a lot of buzz before the launch, a couple of weeks ago. I visited just two days after they opened their doors to catch up with school friends. Generally, I don’t usually review restaurants that are as young as this one. Being as new as it is, the kitchen and staff are still probably working through new ideas and processes, there could be service mishaps and a generally uneven experience. Then again, at first look, it did impress!

AMBIANCE

The ambiance at the restaurant stands out, right from arched entrance with the the Habanero Chilli logo and bright yellow name to the graffiti wall on the side. Inside, in the plant-filled courtyard, the ambiance is warm and vibrant. I personally loved the hanging stained glass lamps above every table and the vivid back-panel at the bar. Attractive!!

Picnic-table styled seating adds a laid back, communal-feel round a stage on which there is live music. We first sat right in front of the band and later realized that the speakers were located just in front of us and had us conversing in shouts. We had to move to a side table within 10 minutes.

The band for the day, Raagas to Riches was without a doubt, the best part of the evening. They belted one energetic track after the other and it was just because of the music that we stayed long after the point at which we felt that the picnic bench seating was getting a little too hard for comfort.

SERVICE

The servers seemed a little lost, unsure of the recommendations they were giving. I hope it was just due to the fact of the restaurant being new, and that the service bucks up in time. However, they were quick in attending to us when we arrived and brought out complimentary nachos (which weren’t great) very quickly.

FOOD

While I loved the menu’s quirky design, the options were very limited and the food itself was disappointing. None of the dishes we tried was worth writing home about. It was confusing to see Mexican Thali, Kingfisher beer cheese dip and black bean hummus in a tex-mex restaurant, but not as surprising as the absence of Mexican classics like the chimichanga and guacamole.

Chicken Wings – There are few dishes more crowd-pleasing than a platter of piping hot chicken wings. We picked the ‘mini’ portion of 8 wings instead of ‘mucho’ comprising of 18. It was one of the better dishes of the evening. The wings delivered an delicious juxtaposition of habanero spice, smoke and sweet with a fabulously sticky glaze and was served with cool ranch-yogurt dressing.

Fired Up Grill Pizza – Could definitely be improved upon. It was loaded with toppings.. chicken, zucchini and broccoli (don’t know what that was doing there), and it would have tasted a whole lot better if the cheese was stringy instead of clumpy. I wasn’t a fan of the biscuit-like base either.

Pomfret with lime and chilly – We picked the pomfret off the beach grill menu as suggested by the staff and chose the lemon dressing. Ahhh! Lemon overload! The taste of the dressing was sour and absolutely overpowering and was difficult to finish, even with five people nibbling on it. It came with veggies, rice and a flour tortilla – none of which were particularly appetizing. Maybe we should have opted for the beef instead.

Roasted 1/2 chicken – Habanero seems to pull of simple dishes better than its Mexican fare. The half roasted chicken with those oh-so-pretty caramelized char marks was succulent and flavourful.  Served with a variety of sides, this decent-sized portion managed to satisfy our hunger. It could have used a bit of gravy, though.

I really wanted to like Habaero, but it was just a bit off as the service and food missteps dimmed the appeal of the pretty outdoor restaurant. Like I said earlier, it may be due to the restaurant being new, but since it has a franchise in Bangalore already, I’d have expected the food to be even better than the ambiance. If you’re in the area, and you hear that Raagas to Riches is playing, drop everything and head over.

Meal for two (excluding drinks) – Rs. 1000/-

Address- House No. E181/B, The Milky Way Road, Khobra Vaddo, Baga, Goa

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Appropriately located minutes away from Vile Parle Railway Station (E) is an easily missed gem. Yes, it isn’t in the trendiest neighborhood, but with close proximity to a dozen colleges, it’s doing pretty well for itself.

Oliva is owned by a first generation entrepreneur, Makarand who has experimented with Italian cuisine for years before crafting his signature menu. He attempts to create dishes that are more delicious than ever before and authentic to his eatery.

The demand is high – with 80% of their delivery being take-aways and home deliveries. Yet, for those who prefer to catch up with friends for crispy crusts, cheesy lasagnas and finger food, here’s what you can expect when you dine in.

AMBIANCE

On the surface, Oliva is the size of a parking garage that could probably house two- three vehicles. Small – even by Mumbai standards. As compared to the sit-out area that holds a couple of small tables, the interiors are much more comfortable. It’s air-conditioned with simple brick walls, almost no décor and glass table tops.

Considering station-side restaurants, this one is miles ahead in terms of cleanliness and quality of food; pretty important parameters, if you ask me.

SERVICE

I can’t really comment on the service. Since there were only four tables with one blogger each on them and Makarand overlooking it all, the service was efficient. When I go back again, I’ll know for sure and edit this section. Until then, you give it a try and tweet your experiences to me!

FOOD

We had a fixed menu for the day in order to sample a bit of their entire new range of dishes. The normal menu, however is huuuge.. literally. It boasts of affordable sandwiches, pizzas and pastas to satisfy diners’ hunger as well as an array of drinks to quench their thirst.

Most patrons rave about Oliva’s pizzas – and rightfully so. Their specialties are known to be pretty nice-sized slices with generous amounts of toppings.  But the place definitely has a lot more to offer.

Kokai and Orange Fizz

Look how colourful! Kokai was a concoction of kokum with a couple of other juices but I preferred the Orange Fizz more. Both carbonated drinks, really.

Garlic Bread with Cheese

Garlic bread is an absolute crowd pleaser and these were hot from the oven! Crusty and crunchy on the edges, soft in the middle and loaded with flavorful garlic and cheese on top. Yummilicious!

You know when you eat too many appetizers and don’t leave enough room for the main course? That happened 😀

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings get a desi makeover at Oliva! These weren’t your everyday BBQ wings or deep fried wings. They were marinated in spicy tomato-chilli paste and coated with a sweet-sticky sauce that were both made in-house. It’s a wonderful paring of flavors and textures you simply cannot get enough of.

Lasagne

Mamma Mia! Lasagna is so satisfying! This one was layered with zucchini, baby corn, mushrooms and chicken topped off with a creamy, white béchamel sauce that sat under the top layer of cheese. The portion size was incredibly generous. I find white sauce to be so much more tempting than red and since this wasn’t overdone with cheese, I loved it!

Chicken Crepe

Ding ding ding – we have a winner! Pizza may be Oliva’s calling card, but their Chicken Crepe was something I’d order again! Tender crepes were filled with chicken in a creamy, peppery sauce and finished with a drizzling of soy sauce. It came with a side of spicy potato wedges that balanced the mildly flavoured crepe perfectly. Try it out!

Stuffed Pizza

At first glance, it may look like a jam tart, but it is in fact, a stuffed pizza with a difference. The meat and other toppings are tucked into the layers below and the top is slathered with tomato sauce and cheese shavings. If you like experimenting, you may like this. It was a so-so for me as I found the sauce too overpowering and each bite of the pizza was naturally heavier as compared to a normal one.

Chicken Tandoori Pizza

Want to stick with a good ol’ Indo-Italian classic? The tandoori pizza is a safe bet. It’s nothing to write home about, but it is a lot better than what you’d get at franchise pizza outlets. The deep-dish pizza is loaded with chicken, bell peppers, cheese and caramelized onions.

Basa in Orange Sauce

Another great dish that showed that this pizza parlour can whip up sophisticated seafood dishes too! The basa was boneless, flaky and cooked to perfection, but it was the tangy orange sauce that stole the show. Some better presentation would have made this dish a lot more visually appealing.

Choco Lava Cake

I may have struggled to eat all this food, but I sure licked the bottom of this choco-lava aluminum case. Homemade, warm and soft, the dessert was a decadent end to my meal at Oliva. The molten chocolate oozed out but could have been a tad but thicker in my opinion.

All in all, the restaurant gets a thumbs up from me, especially since a decent, affordable pizza in the suburbs is rare. Make sure to try it out

You can order online here!  (they even deliver upto Bandra and Juhu)

Or walk in to 5, Harileela Premises Co.op. Society Ltd., 146 Ram Mandir Road, Vile Parle East Mumbai.

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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.

In a state where one has a hundred food choices available, a restaurant must be a black sheep in order to stand out. True to its name, The Black Sheep Bistro is doing just that. Located in Panaji, this fusion restaurant is run by husband-wife duo, Prahlad and Sabreen who’ve worked in the hospitality line around the world.

The menu changes frequently, based on the season and ingredients available in the market as the pair believes in the ‘farm to table’ philosophy. Taking global inspiration, they give food their signature spin using local produce with the intention of promoting healthy food habits and lowering their carbon footprints. If you think their mission is admirable, wait till you see the food!

Chocolate glazed chicken, stuffed chorizo, quail eggs in kismur butter, seafood risotto, malwani mushroom stroganoff and chakri churros can possibly give you a glimpse of their exotic offerings at affordable prices. The appetizers and mains are quite impressive, to say the least!

AMBIANCE

Located just off 18th June Road in Panaji, from the outside, The Black Sheep Bistro looks looks like any other building – with classic pale yellow exterior walls. The interiors though, are thoroughly contemporary – beautifully combining old world charm with modernity.

You will be greeted by a floor to ceiling bar. As you move in, you will find a variety of paintings on the walls, both by local artists and world famous photographers. The seating options vary from among high bar stools, plush sofas or comfy chairs in the enclosed gallery. The dark wooden floors, subtle lighting and trendy music give one a feeling of being in a lounge and fine dining restaurant all at once

SERVICE

Prahlad and Sabreen give guests warm welcomes and stay to chat for a minute before recommending dishes off the menu. The service is brilliant and the staff know the menu thoroughly. Since I was seated in the outdoor gallery patio, I had a glimpse of the squeaky clean kitchen with Sabreen giving most dishes a finishing touch alongside the chefs.

FOOD

The Black Sheep Bistro is pretty well known for their signature handcrafted cocktails, but they gladly tweaked them into mocktails for Mum and me.

AMANTE PICANTE – Originally made with tequila, fresh cucumber, mint, chilli and other signature ingredients, we had it minus the tequila. The drink had crisp, herbal flavors that were very refreshing. It had a satisfying balance of sweet and salty with a subtle spiciness added in the mix.

BLUSH – Pink, fruity and perfect for a girl’s night out – that’s Blush for you! This fizzy mocktail was made with pomegranate juice, citrus and mint. It’s not too sweet and packs a powerful punch.

IRANIAN LAMB ABGOOSHT ON TOAST –There’s more to Middle Eastern food than falafel, hummus and shawarmas! I love the way rustic lamb abgoosht got a classy makeover – it was served on crunchy garlic bread with a dollop of spicy harissa sauce on top, lest it’s too mild for the Indian palate. The lamb was so tender and creamy, on the verge of being a spreadable paste, with super tiny pieces of potato and beans. Can honestly say that a eating this took my imagination to a land of vividly coloured spices, dusty bazaars and smoky cafes.

KONKAN STYLED GRILLED CHICKEN BITES – A Goan version of Tandoori chicken, these little chicken pieces come marinated with konkan spices and an onion-tomato chutney on top. I thought it would have a hint of coconut to it, being Konkan, but it didn’t. Worth a try if you don’t like your food very spicy!

CRUDO OF FRESH FISH – I wouldn’t have considered ordering this, if Sabreen hadn’t coerced me to give it a try! The dish comprised of thinly sliced raw fish… yes, raw! It was drizzled over with Paan infused olive oil and sprinkled with almonds, fresh herbs and baby tomatoes. The cold ‘Modso’ fish was cut paper thin and had no aroma, but had a mildly salty taste. If you’re an adventurous eater, it’s worth a sample!

RED KISMUR FISH FILET – A Goan meal isn’t complete without fish… or dried fish in the monsoon. This dish combines them both in a lip-smacking-ly awesome way. The fish was delicate, juicy and cooked to perfection. It was coated with crunchy chilly-kismur (spicy dried prawns) all in a gorgeous sticky sauce. Below the fish were French Fries (or so I thought) until I ate one only to find that it was apple sliced to resemble chips! Tender, crunchy, sweet and tangy and on top of it all, beautifully caramelized. Highly recommended!

PORK CHOP WITH BARLEY – While the meat was well done, the dish badly needed some gravy. I would have really liked some sticky honey sauce or BBQ sauce to give it some moistness. Barley is not something you see a lot on Indian menus. It was simple, healthy and delicious, but again, needed the sauce.

CHOCOLATE – Just one dig into this ever-so-soft, dark chocolate cake! That’s all it took for hot, chocolate lava to come flowing out and flooding the plate. This ooey gooey cake was rich and fudgey without being oversweet. It was served with crème anglaise on the side which would have probably been better if served in a small bowl alongside as it was hard to scoop up with the spoon. You’ll probably need to share this with someone!

CHOCOLATE SALAMI – When I heard that The Black Sheep Bistro had chocolate salami, to say I was excited is an understatement. The last time I had it was when my grandma made it over 10 years ago – and I wanted the nostalgia feels so bad! It wasn’t the same though… the Nanz is pretty outstanding when it comes to dessert! Where hers was the size of coasters with teeny tiny biscuit flakes, this one was pretty small in comparison with large biscuit pieces. It came with candied orange peel and cream on the side and tasted ok.

The Black Sheep Bistro seems to have got the formula for a memorable meal spot on! A warm setting, great food, knowledgeable staff, focus on quality and value for money offerings are elements that can’t escape you.

Without a doubt, the best fusion restaurant in the sunshine state. If it’s not a part of your to-do list in Goa, take my word for it – you’re missing out! There are very few restaurants with an assured sense of individuality and identity – and this is one of them.

Cost for two – Rs. 2000/- without drinks

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If you’re passing by St. Michael’s Church in Anjuna, you’ll come across a hotel with a giant bird cage outside – can’t miss it! That’s the Tamarind Hotel and inside is Café Cotinga.

No review of this pretty cafe can begin without mentioning the origin of their unique name. Cotinga is a blue bird native to South America that was spotted by the café’s bird-loving owners in the place where the café now stands. Having being seen so far away from its natural habitat, it has inspired not just the name, but also the colour scheme and décor of the place.

A serene restaurant away from the shore, one of the things they’re best known for is their desserts – and you can’t help but stop and marvel at the glass counter loaded with cake as you walk up the stairs to the balcony. Makes you almost want to gobble up the food just to get to the dessert part.

AMBIANCE

While I visited the hotel for dinner, I’d suggest going for lunch so you can admire the attention to bird-themed details all over the place. Maybe even sit in one of the bird cages to dine in!

The courtyard has an abundance of hanging, white paper lamps and fairy lights with lounge-style, white couches under a canopy of trees. There’s also the blue and white seating and a mini bird cage candle stand on every table.  Try and make it for a meal here on Wednesday. There’s live music! If there’s anything that makes a dinner out in Goa lively, a band would be it. Even otherwise, the recorded music was fun, current and upbeat. Thumbs up to that.

The balcony also has a breezy, beachy vibe with white curtains billowing in the breeze. The best room though, was a bright yellow and black one that wasn’t decorated around the bird theme. It was based out of my favourite book of wisdom, Alice In Wonderland.

A pool table, a giant TV screen, white cushioned stools and striped couches gave this room a wonderfully whimsical feel. Quotes from the book are painted onto the wall. If you’re following me on Instagram, I have a picture of myself posing under a line that says “We’re all mad here,” while smiling like the Cheshire Cat. How apt!

SERVICE

I don’t have anything extra special to say about the service. There wasn’t much that jumped out in a good or not so good way. Pretty ordinary, if you ask me.

FOOD

The menu is a mix of tandoori items, pizzas, salads, burgers, curries, biryanis and a couple of thalis thrown in for good measure. I read reviews online that said the lasagna and risotto served at Cotinga is out of this world, but the waiter highly recommended that I opt for the ‘Tamarind Specials.’ Was it better? We shall see 🙂

The ‘drinks’ page of the menu listed juices and aerated drinks under cold beverages. I ordered a lime soda and only later realized that there was a Tamarind Sherbet listed somewhere at the end of the menu mixed in with the food selection.’ I’d have much rather preferred the Sherbet if it was placed with the others. Oh well.

Coming to the food:

Chicken Malai Kebab – I’d always select malai kebabs over the usual chicken tikka variety. However, these needed to be a lot more tender and creamier. It didn’t have the soft, melt in your mouth texture that’s typical of a malai kebab, but I could taste the smokiness coming through, which was a good thing.

Stuffed Chicken Legs – Listed under ‘Tamarind Specials’ this dish comprised of chicken stuffed with spiced and crushed paneer with cashew nuts. I’ve never come across such a dish before. The paneer made the chicken chewier than usual, though. Since it was coated in the tamarind gravy, it had an interesting flavour.

Tamarind Coated Chicken – The waiter warned me it would be spicy. He did. But I can handle quite a lot of spice and ordered it anyway. Mamma Mia! The eyes watered, the ears turned red and the tongue was on fire. I couldn’t finish more than a couple of bites – more so because I could scrape off spoonfuls of masala from the surface of the chicken slices. Order it if you dare!

Butter Chicken and Naan – I wouldn’t think highly of a restaurant if it couldn’t deliver the quintessential butter chicken. Not surprisingly, they did. The butter chicken was as wonderful as ever with soft chunks of meat and a rich tomato-cashew gravy. The naan was great as well – not too doughy and not too flaky either!

Oreo Mousse Cheesecake – If you like your desserts sinfully rich, order the oreo mousse cheesecake. Light in texture, the mousse is dark and loaded with chocolate. The layer of cheese on the top helped in adding some balance and freshness

Banofee Pie – Best dish of the night! This irresistible pie stood on a base of crumbled biscuits and had a generous dose of condensed milk and cream on top, garnished with chocolate. It was perfectly sweet with a grainy-smooth texture.

The Verdict – While the ambience is lovely, the food has definite scope for improvement in terms of taste and presentation. Definitely try their desserts and browse through the marvellous pictures of their hotel rooms online.

So there’s been an OD of food posts lately – I hope you enjoy reading them and are visiting some of these places!

Also, subscribers, you’re in for a treat in my next post!! Stay tuned!