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

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

courtyard le dupleix

AMBIANCE

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

SERVICE

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

FOOD

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

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

the courtyard le dupleix pondicherry

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

le dupleix pondicherry

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

chicken chettinad pondicherry

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

le dupleix courtyard pondicherry

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

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

Bye!

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

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

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

candy and green

AMBIANCE

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

candy and green review

SERVICE

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

candy and green interiors

FOOD

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

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

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

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

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

zucchini parcels candy and green

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

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

sweet potato burger candy and green

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

mushroom truffle flatbread candy and green

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

COST – Rs. 1600 for two people

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

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

Till next time!

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

AMBIANCE

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

kaitlyns beer garden bandra

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

SERVICE

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

FOOD

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

Here’s what I tried:

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

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

spinach and burnt garlic fritters kaitlyns beer garden

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

beer battered prawns kaitlyns beer garden

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

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

loppy burger kaitlyns beer garden

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

pepper chicken kaitlyns beer garden

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

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

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1800 with alcohol

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

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

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

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

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

AMBIENCE

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

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

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

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

SERVICE

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

bombay bronx ambience

FOOD

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

Let’s show you the food:

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

bombay bronx breach candy

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

cheese chilli toast bombay bronx

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

bombay bronx chilli chicken

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

malai kebab bombay bronx

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

that goan girl bombay bronx

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

bombay bronx slider

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

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

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

Until next time!


Cost for 2 – Rs. 1600/- with alcohol

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

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

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

langdon hall cambridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

landgon hall tasting menu

best restaurant in canada

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

brassica tasting menu langdon hall

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

scallop tasting menu langdon hall

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

sweetbreads and lobster langdon hall

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

autumn truffle puree jason bangerter

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

jason bangerter langdon hall

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

langdon hall dessert

terror noir chicken skin

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

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

The elderly folk in Goa may not have heard of a ton of new fangled resorts in Goa, but you can bet they’ve all heard of Cidade De Goa.

Situated at the end of the Miramar stretch, on turning left at the Dona Paula Circle, Cidade De Goa is one of the oldest luxury properties in the state. It stands tall on the side of a hill, overlooking a private stretch of beach. The resort is at a fair distance from the buzzing beaches of North Goa but great for those who like being pampered in a peaceful atmosphere.

Through the years, this famed resort has cherished and promoted the cultural traditions of Goa’s past. Noite de Fado or Fado Night is one such tribute and is held on the first Tuesday of every month at one of the restaurants, Alfama. While I’m a lover of art, music and culture, I’ve only heard of this Portuguese style of music in conversation, but never experienced it. Mandos, Dulpods and Dekhnis on the other hand, are far more common.

alfama cidade de goa

Alfama Restaurant evokes comparison to the era gone by and is a befitting location for the event. From the moment you walk in, you are transported to a Latin square in Lisbon, with it’s Portuguese styled balcaos, whitewashed pillars, intimate alcoves and bright murals. Just sitting here makes you feel like you’ve taken a trip to Portugal several decades ago, listening to a live musician playing on the street, entertaining passer-bys and diners overlooking the square from various cafes.

A special 4 course menu is prepared only for Fado night, and as you’re seated, a waiter takes you through the choices you have. You pick one out of 2 soups, one of two salads, one of 4-5 mains and there’s only one dessert option available. They bring you your drinks and a bread basket with flavoured butter and are off into the kitchen. Before long, the lights dim and all eyes are on the musicians who walk out.

bread basket alfama

Sonia Shirsat, one of Goa’s most famous fadistas begins the evening with a short introduction to the soulful music. She explains how Fado, these Portuguese songs, are mellifluously haunting and centre around the sea, sailors, ships, love, loss, guilt, passion, sorrow, yearning, death…

A Fado, she explains, was sung by the families and lovers of sailors who sailed off on voyages to discover new lands. As they are left behind, they don’t know whether they will see each other again and so, these expressive, satirical songs capture all the emotion. They leave you in what can be called ‘Saudade,’ which means ‘in a state of longing or nostalgia.’

sonia shirsat

Three other fadiastas sing at every Note de Fado here, notably, the Cotta Family, a family that has been preserving the art for generations. Minguel Cotta, his daughter Chantalle and yet another fadista, Nadia Rebello. The Cotta son, Franz Schubert Cotta accompanies them on the Portuguese guitar while Reniel Costa plays along on the guitar. Before the start of each Fado, the fadista gave listeners a two line brief of what the song was about. It’s hard to say who sang the best – we marvelled at the power of everyone’s voices (all of them sung without a microphone and each drew us in, even though the words were foreign.)

minguel cotta fado

The lights come back on between each of the 4 sets and every time, one course of food is brought out. During this time, the fadistas walk around individually, visiting guests at their table.

nadia rebello fado goa

First off, Mum and I tried the salads – Trilogia de Mariscos, a trilogy of deep blue sea crab xec xec, butter poached prawns and calamari wheel, as well as Salada de Alcachofra, Ervilihas e Mesclun com Tapenade de Azeitona (spicy artichoke, olive tapenade, green peas, mesclun parmesan shavings with cafreal dressing).  These weren’t conventional salads, but were small, beautifully plated dishes that looked better than they tasted.

fado night cidade de goa

salad fado night cidade de goa

We picked both options of soups, too. The Sopa de Frango (chorizo scented chicken and roasted pepper) one was quite delicious and the smell of smoky chorizo was apparent. The Sopa de Tomate e Manjericao was a milder, lighter veg option made up of tomatoes and basil consumme with a parmesan red croute.

soups at alfama cidade de goa

There were a handful of mains to choose from. The frango recheado com Congumelos (mushroom filled xacuti chicken, cumin mash, carrot confit and xacuti jus) was intriguing! Sesame coated breadsticks jutted out from between two pieces of juicy chicken laid on a bed of mash. And those carrots were deceptive! They looked just like cheeseballs!

chicken noite de fado

My Mum had the Peixe Assado which was a large, beautiful slab of boneless fish on bean ragout with wilted greens and balchao butter sauce. This was a truly harmonious dish and was way better than my chicken.

fado goa

Not one, but 3 desserts arrived on a platter to end the show. A petit sized piece of moist almond cake, some rice pudding and tender coconut ice cream! All 3 were great but the cake was the clear winner. Delicate flavour combos and seriously nom nom!

fado night desserts

I’ll say one thing for the food – it was unexpected in every sense. All the dishes were innovatively presented, and the pairings were unconventional. Taste-wise, some were better than others and there is scope for improvement. I’m not sure the fare would appeal to everyone, but if you’re up for trying something new, you may enjoy it!

Would I recommend Noite de Fado to everyone I know? Most definitely! If you’re a culture vulture visiting Goa, make sure to reserve your table on the first Tuesday of every month at Alfama. I guarantee it will be a memorable night!

Catch you later!

Hey Guys!

I know I’ve been MIA for around 2 weeks, but you know how hectic trips home are! Seriously!

When I was studying, going home to Goa meant lazing around, sleeping, eating my fave dishes that Mum cooked and sleeping some more.

Now, before I even reach home, I have a list of restaurants to visit and I eat out more than I eat in. I love it because that means I get to tell YOU GUYS where to find the BEST when you go on a short trip to Goa. Because who has time for mediocre food, right?

This November, I went to surprise my uncle who came home to Goa from the US after 9 whole years. Imagine his craving for authentic Goan food after that long a time. At every restaurant we went, we scanned the menu for some Goan sausage, vindaloo and xacuti because when you’re home for a week, you can’t waste an opportunity to eat that! Of course, most restaurants do it all wrong.

Goans, I know you’ll agree with me here. Our food is complex. Preparing it takes ages. I’ve never seen my grandmother use powders and pastes for as long as she lived. She’d sit out in the balcony and grind masalas on stone, scrape fresh coconut, tap into her stores for vinegar and toddy every single day – and the results showed in every last drop that we’d lick up. The quick, half-hearted ways that many restaurants cook these days is a sham! And sadly, most tourists will never know true Goan food, if they don’t step away from the beach belt.

AMBIANCE

I was invited by Vivanta by Taj, Panjim to check out their new restaurant, Goan Stories. The hotel is located right in the middle of Panjim and isn’t surrounded with acres of greenery and a view of the sea. On entering a small, but well spaced-out lobby, Goan Stories is located on the left of it. At first glance, it does appear quite bare and not as opulent as you’d expect a restaurant in the Taj to be. The tables and chairs are well spaced out and a wooden bar stretches along one end.

At one point, this restaurant, called Tease, was solely a bar. It has now been converted into a restaurant-cum-bar so that it sees footfall all day long, and not just during the evening hours. Goan Stories is relatively new. Still, you can’t help but notice the thought that’s gone behind every touch point.

goan stories taj vivanta goa

Starting with the music! Thankfully, it wasn’t one of those dreary old Konkani playlists but upbeat and super fun songs that are apt for a tiatr. In one of the songs, the singer enthusiastically sung about how he ate a green chilly and his rear-end was now on fire. Totally had us in splits!!

Even the napkins that were neatly placed like a bow on the plates was a Kunbi weave, a craft that is slowly dying out. The kunbis are the aboriginal settlers of Goa and I’m told that to get this particular fabric and pattern, the team hunted the length and breadth of Goa, in the end, finding an old man who was still in the trade, with thoughts of closing down his business. Luckily, Goan Stories now has cloth napkins in the original Kunbi weave style.

kunbi weave taj vivanta goan stories

SERVICE

Well-informed, smartly dressed boys managed the floor with no hitches. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know I don’t give shout-outs unless really warranted! Thank you, Marvin D’costa, for the apt suggestions and pleasant conversation.

The bartender makes a pretty good martini!

vivanta taj goan stories

FOOD

Let’s not waste any time beating around the bush here! The food was epic from start to finish! Chef Rego, a renowned name in the food industry for preserving Goan cuisine worldwide, has supervised the entire process of putting together the menu at Goan Stories. Most dishes was flawless. I only wished my appetite allowed me to sample it all!

The menu was another element I loved about the restaurant – it came in a huge shell and on opening it, the booklet was stuck to the shell’s hinges. Lovely!!

Flavoured butter!

OMG this was to-die-for! The bread basket had tiny poees, the katro pao (shaped like a butterly) and the much-loved-but-rarely-seen-anymore, kakonn, shaped like a hard bangle. Three flavours of butters arrived too – xacuti, piri piri and cafreal. While it may sound off-putting at first, these were INSANELY yum. It was against our better judgement to fill ourselves up on bread, but we just couldn’t resist those butters. I hope they bottle it up and sell some soon! Oh, and four types of pickles came with the bread, too.

flavoured butter goan stories taj vivanta

thatgoangirl goan stories

Beef and Fish Potato Chops

Goan snacks are incomplete without chops! While the beef chop was pretty great, the fish one wasn’t fishy-enough. Possibly because there was potato mixed in with the fish. It would have been great with some great fusion-sauce, like the butter. I ordered sample portions of these, hence there are only a few on each plate.

snacks goan stories taj vivanta

Rissois

One of my favourite Goan snacks, the rissois usually comes with minced prawn inside. However, in order to keep the veg-non veg balance, these were filled with spinach and corn. LOVED it! The delicious outer shells were beautifully coated with breadcrumbs and so crispy, and the inside had that delicious silky smooth texture, just like prawn rissois are. Must try!

potato chops goan stories vivanta taj

Goan Sausage Chilly Fry

Most Goans know how good these sausages are by the smell alone. For me, just the thought of the heady aroma of spiced, tangy, smoked and sundried goan choriz is something that makes me drool. My rule of thumb is if you can smell it from 500 meters away, it’s gotta be delish! The choriz here ticked all the boxes – robust, packed with rich flavour, and all the delicious juices intact, soaked up in the onions. Gosh, I’m salivating just writing about it!

goan sausages chorizo goan

Crab Xec Xec

Huge red rock crabs cooked in delicious spiced coconut gravy tastes like the coast! When crab xec xec is made from scratch like this was, you’ll taste the complexity of the spice mix and feel the flavours unfold in every bite.  I’ll let the picture do the talking here, but I’ll say this – we had runny noses while eating it. And that = gooooood!

crab xec xec goan stories

Chicken Xacuti

An absolute Goan favourite, and you can’t leave without trying it! The chicken xacuti is much milder than the crab xec xec and we ordered 2 sannas to go with it as rice came along with the dish! Absolutely yum and we mopped up the thick, fragrant curry with deliciously sweet sannas!

chicken xacuti goa goan stories

Sera Durra

The last time I was in Goa, I went to 6-8 restaurants in the hope of tasting Sera Durra, a dessert my family reserves for special occasions. It features layers of biscuit crumbs and whipped cream and the trick to getting it right is whipping the cream just enough, not more – not less, to achieve the right consistency. Many places use sweeteners and gelatin, thereby affecting the taste. The Sera Durra here ended our meal on the perfect note. We were so stuffed, that this light, not-too-sweet dessert topped with berries was just what we needed.

serra durra goa goan stories

This was definitely one of the finest Goan meals I’ve had. Tourists, foodies, everyone, put this on your map the next time around! It will set the bar in terms of authentic Goan food.

I’m sharing pictures and stories of my recent trip to sunny Goa, and current trip to freeezing Canada on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Come along!

Hey guys!

After sampling the limited-time-only Rajasthan Food Festival at Grand Hyatt, Goa in August, I hadn’t visited any short food festivals or special menu events. While these events are few and far between, they’re slowly starting to become a trend. I love attending them for a couple of reasons. These limited-time-only menus give chefs a chance to reinvent and step away from the tried and tested menu that often haven’t been re-looked at in years. The creativity in the new menu speaks volumes every single time!

Often, the menus highlight a certain ingredient, festival or region and chefs from outside the restaurant, or even state and country are brought in. During the ‘Culinary Journey through India’ by Marriott, Goa, the resort honed the skills of their in-house chefs from around the country. The Punjabi chefs took over on the day dedicated to Punjabi cuisine, Goan chefs highlighted Goa fare and every day gave a new chef a chance at the helm. Not something you see everyday, is it?

Without rambling on, I’ll get to the point. The Heirloom Festival by Punjab Grill has been on for around 2 months now and the menu reflects a dedication to using thoughtfully chosen fairly traded ingredients. There’s just about a  week left until the dishes are taken off the menu, so I hope you read this in time. The main ingredient in every dish is chicken!

Scroll through all the delish items on the menu (I sampled EVERYTHING!)

MURGH SHORBA WITH GARLIC AND BARLEY

Flaming orange, super fragrant and spicy (but not the tear-inducing kind), the soup had small chunks of chicken and a generous amount of barley for some chewy texture. It was rich and comforting and I could feel the warm spice make its way down as I swallowed. One of those feel-good, scintillating soups for sure!

murgh shorba garlic barley soup punjab grill

MURGH DALCHA TIKKA

Murgh dalcha is a gravy dish where chicken is cooked with lentils. This was the ‘tikka’ variety. Chicken coated in a smooth lentil/dal paste with yogurt and spices and then dipped into the tandoor to cook. Can’t tell you how succulent this was – the texture of the chicken was neither stringy, tough or too soft. In fact, the chicken in every single dish was spot on perfect. I haven’t seen this dish offered in any restaurant so far, which is quite a pity.

murgh dalcha kebab

TAMARIND TANDOORI CHICKEN WINGS

BBQ glazed chicken wings is always a crowd pleaser! This one was a tad different as it was marinated with a yogurt-spice mix, cooked in the tandoor and then glazed with finger-licking good tamarind sauce. Beautifully sweet, tart and sticky.

tamarind tandoori chicken wings punjab grill

CHARGHA KUKKAD

Can’t believe I’ve never heard of Chargha Kukkad before. A delicacy from the streets of Lahore, chicken is marinated in ground spices and deep fried until golden. This would have probably tasted better with the crispy skin left on, but it was delicious without it, nonetheless.

chargha kukkad punjab grill

MURGH CHAAMPEIN 

Don’t be fooled – these aren’t your everyday chicken lollipops. These chicken drumsticks were marinated and slow cooked for hours so that the flavours penetrated to the bone. This dish just cannot be faulted! It was so juicy and flavourful and had was slightly charred for a smokey taste.

murgh ki champein punjab

THE MAINS

After those 4 meaty starters, I was in no position to attempt mains. But since I may never taste these dishes at Punjab Grill again, I went YOLO! and sampled a spoonful of each.

CHUR CHUR NAAN – I’m one to choose rice over flatbread, but this naan was such a guilty pleasure! It’s hot and firm exterior was stuffed with a thick, satin-like paste of cauliflower and apricots. It was so yum, I could have eaten it plain. But it perfectly complimented every gravy offered.

RAW MANGO CHICKEN CURRY – This dish really stood out! I can still distinctly remember the taste of that tangy gravy. If you’ve ever tried Kasundi, a Bengali curry made of raw mango and mustard, you’d find slight similarities to this one.

MURGH ROAST FATEHWAL – This was really the star of the mains. It was punchy, well balanced fragrant and the taste of ground spices roasted in ghee was apparent in every delicious morsel. Highly recommended.

MURGH KOFTA – I didn’t find anything really spectacular about this dish. It was pretty standard – chicken meatballs cooked in generic Indian spices.

ALOO MURGH KI TEHRI – Simplicity at its best! Baby potatoes cooked dum-style along with minimally spiced boneless chicken. The long-grained rice was also cooked in spices and the rich taste of saffron made its presence felt. There was generous caramelized onions, something I can’t do without in biryanis.

heirloom menu punjab grill

PHIRNI

I thought the phirni I had in Delhi was good. But this one was off the charts! After talking so much about the food, I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say it was Ah-Mazing! The custard like texture, nuts, saffron, broken rice – this was harmony!

phirni punjab grill

Expect nothing less than excellence from the house of Kalra – they’re restaurants never fail to deliver time and again. Head over for a ferocious display of chicken dishes from Punjab Grill before they go.

You may also want to check out my review of another mindblowing Kalra restaurant, Pa Pa Ya.

There’s something new coming up on the blog next – so I’ll be taking a sabbatical from food related posts for a week or so. No shortage of it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram though. Are ya ready?

Mahabaleshwar, the queen of hill stations, is known for many things – the enchanting views of the valley, the chilly weather almost all year round, its strawberries, and its evergreen forests. One thing it is not known for is the food.

It’s true that there are restaurants lined up one besides the other offering cheap eats like south Indian fare in traditional udupi restaurants, steaming maggi noodles in little cafes, wraps and rolls – ideal for a budget traveller to grab a bite and head off to explore. But unless you’re staying at a resort like Brightland, the chances of finding a good quality, sit-down restaurant, complete with great ambience and music is almost nil.

grapevine mahabaleshwar

I heard about The Grapevine coincidentally through the grapevine (sorry, I just had to do that!)  It was recommended to me by a friend, Briston, who owns Foxes Fiesta, close to my home in Goa, that too, as a comment on my check-in to Mahabaleshwar on Facebook. When a chef suggests a restaurant to you, you know it HAS to be worthwhile going there and that’s why I did. Obviously, I was not disappointed; on the contrary, I was blown away! And while I wasn’t intending to blog about it initially, after visiting I feel the world should DEFINITELY know about this little jewel.

AMBIENCE

It took a while to find Grapevine, because Google Maps took me to one side of the building, when the entry to the restaurant was on another. But when I did find it, it stood out right away. Unlike the makeshift restaurants I had seen so far, with their offerings printed on large boards at the entrance and their red plastic chairs within, Grapevine had a clean open facade with white, wrought iron furniture outside.

grapevine restaurant

On entering, a variety of liquor and wine in a wall-to-wall set-up at eye level breaks up the seating areas – one, a couple of steps up on the mezzanine floor, and the other, a couple of steps below ground level. The whole place has a warm, rustic feel and the upbeat music really livens it up, making it almost too hip for Mahabaleshwar!

grapevine restaurant mahabaleshwar

the grapevine mahabaleshwar

SERVICE

Apart from a couple of wait-staff who bring food to the table and clear the dishes, the show is almost entirely run by the chef/owner, Raio, a third generation Parsi from Mahabaleshwar. Softspoken and smiling, he greets us with his warm countenance and since Briston has already given him a heads-up that I may visit, he kindly joins us for a chat.

Raio tells me how his grandfather moved here because the clean air helped his asthma troubles. His family then started Imperial stores, a shopping establishment in Mahabaleshwar. Raio always knew that whatever he ended up doing in life, he’d want to do in his hometown. So after studying Hotel Management in Goa and working for the Taj Hotels, he started the Grapevine.

FOOD

It was quite early in the evening when I visited The Grapevine, and my intention was only to stop by for a coffee or mid-evening snack. But seeing Raio talk about his food so passionately, I couldn’t leave without trying something, nor did he let me.

The restaurant has a huuuuge menu – encompassing soups, starters like tempura, prawn cocktail and parsi mutton bheja cutlets and a small spread of veg offerings too. Mains span from hakka noodles to akuri, pastas, thai curries and of course, Parsi staples like Patra Ni Macchi.

Having fresh seafood brought in all the way from Mumbai up to the hills miles away, just to serve in a gourmet restaurant seems like a whole lot of trouble. So trying a seafood dish seemed like a must-do. On Chef Raio’s recommendation, I tried the Prawn Pattiya which is essentially a Parsi gravy that he has turned into a starter by serving it semi-dry. Perfectly cooked, juicy prawns were coated with the richest sweet-sour gravy I’ve ever tried. Absolute winning dish and we weren’t even sorry that we scraped up every last bit of gravy from the plate.

prawn pattiya grapevine

Just when we thought nothing could top the Prawn Pattiya, the lamb shanks arrived! Oh, those lamb shanks!  It cut like soft butter and was so delicate, you’d have a hard time believing it escaped a furious fire just minutes ago. Deliciously smoky-sweet and overwhelmingly tender, the dark gravy penetrated right to the bone! It was served with a generous helping of cheesy mash potato that sent us to seventh heaven!

lamb shanks the grapevine

A Parsi meal without dhansak? No way! Chef Raio sent this delicious quintessential Parsi staple up next. A huge bowl of fragrant brown rice alongside chunky pieces of mutton that had been simmered in a dal based gravy. What was to be a coffee break turned to a full-fledged meal by 8 pm and we could only manage a couple of spoonfuls. I’ve probably said it before, but I’ll say it again – soOoOOooo good!

mutton dhaksak

Lastly, we sampled one of the desserts, the Ferero Rocher terrine, which was a cool slab of dark chocolate Ferrero Rocher, liquid malt syrup, cream and dark chocolate sauce. It is one of Chef Raio’s inventions. Not too sweet, but considering the meal was so indulgent, we were glad the silky smooth dessert wasn’t too decadent.

thatgoangirl the grapevine 2

It’s a pity one has to go all the way to Mahabaleshwar to get a taste of the food at The Grapevine. I wasn’t intending to make another visit to those parts, but there sure is enough incentive now! If you ever visit that gorgeous hill station, do NOT leave without trying this place out!

Address – The Grapevine Restaurant. Mahabaleshwar Jama Masjid Rd, Mahabaleshwar

Cost for 2 – Rs. 1200-Rs. 1500

Check out my other posts on Mahabaleshwar and drop by to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for a chat. Bye!

Ever since I got invited to review Poush, a restaurant serving Kashmiri food and Just Kerala, a south Indian one, I’ve had the song ‘Kashmir Tu Mein Kanyakumari’ stuck in my head. And apart from that one line, I don’t know the words to that song at all. Anyway!

There’s no denying that Mumbai is a mixed bag of cultures, traditions and religions. Naturally, restaurants serving authentic regional cuisine have to find space among new-age fusion restaurants to give people a taste of home, and give foodies a taste of what the country has to offer. Poush is one such place.

AMBIENCE

poush kurla

Comfortably located on the topmost floor of Phoenix Marketcity, Kurla, Poush is anything but inconspiculous. Through its arched wooden windows and intricate patterned curtains, you’ll notice that the interiors aren’t what you’d find in an ordinary restaurant. In fact, it has been designed to resemble a traditional, opulent shikara – or houseboat – on the Dal Lake in Kashmir.

poush mumbai

Both sides of the restauant feature ‘cubicles’ with drawn curtains wherein a thin matteress on which to sit cross legged on either sides of a low table are placed. The center of the restaurant has conventional tables and chairs. I picked the former seating arrangement and stretched my legs out under the table that seemed almost too big for two, but too small for four.

Instrumental sitar and tabla music played on in the background and our tummies began to rumble for a taste of Kashmir’s delectable cuisine.

SERVICE

The staff was quick to attend to patrons and suggest the specials among the vast dozen paged menu. The food came out surprisingly quickly for such lavishly cooked dishes. I couldn’t help but smile when, on requesting for the traditional Kashmiri Thaali comprising of 6-7 meaty dishes, the waiter raised his eyebrows, looked at me and said “madam, zyada padega aapke liye,” (that would be too much food for you). Can’t blame him or his good intentions – he doesn’t know who he’s dealing with 🙂

FOOD

I always read zomato reviews AFTER I visit a restaurant, so that the opinions of others don’t cloud my own judgement. I go without any preconcieved notions and apart from knowing what the menu is like, I don’t read what others have to say. So I was honestly surprised when I came home and read one negative review after another about Poush. My experience was by and large quite positive!

Alphonse and Love Story –  I wasn’t a fan of Alphonse which was made of mango juice, khus and cream. Since it was a mango-based drink, I thought it would be, well, mango-coloured and not green! True, it isn’t the season for fresh mango, but the overly-sweet, artificial taste of the juice was not just lingering, but strong. Love Story, on the other hand was great! I loved the tart pineapple, sweet mango and delicious flavour and scent of rose!

poush kashmiri restaurant

Poush Special Kebab – Rajma Masala is the quintessential comfort food for North Indians and a few of us in the south, too. I skipped the regular meaty kebabs and tried this vegetarian one simply because the name said it was a Poush special. It was a great start to the meal – crispy edges, soft inside and the taste of sauteed onions and herbs was present in every bite! Different from the creamy, satisfying rajma I’m used to.

poush special kebab

Kokur Seekh Kanti – Boneless chicken in a smoky tomato gravy is always bound to be a crowd pleaser. What would have made it much better was if the chicken wasn’t as hard and chewy as it was. I felt the presentation could have used a little work, too.

kokur seekh kanti poush mumbai

Trami – I had a fabulous introduction to Kashmiri cuisine through the Wazwan, a multi course feast prepared during Kashmiri weddings and served on a copper thali called a Trami. To call it a meal would be an understatement, it is nothing short of a meaty celebration. The ‘half-trami’ comprises of 5 starters and 5 main dishes that serve 2.

I was a little surprised on seeing 5 starter pieces served around a heap of rice. Nadier Palak Tikki was fenugreek cutlet of sorts, sort of like a dal wada or a dry cutlet. It was similar to a dal wada in looks and texture but the strong herbal taste of fenugreek was the prime differentiation.

trami wazwan poush mumbai

Fried chicken was yet another starter – it looked red hot but was mild in taste and, unlike the kokur seekh kanti, quite succulent. Next up, seekh kebab – melt-in-the-mouth minced mutton marinated and grilled on skewers over coal, keeping the delicate crunch of onions in the meat for texture.

The most interesting starter was the kabargah, which I learnt were ribs of a young lamb cooked in a special blend of milk and spices and then fried. It comes absolutely bone-dry and tastes as if it had been dried in the sun for days. I really got down and dirty eating this Kashmiri delicacy, with its crispy edges and sinewy meat that took quite a lot of effort to get off the bone. The best way to eat this is without any inhibitions!

Lastly, we sampled methi maaz which stood out for being the only gravy starter. This aromatic, spicy curry had tiny fatty chunks of mutton and generous amounts of fenugreek. The rice helped balance out the fiery spices here, but made us so full that we didn’t anticipate how to tackle the 5 mains.

that goan girl poush

Among the 5 main dishes I mopped up with tandoori roti, I loved the hearty Rogan Josh best! This signature bright red lamb dish had robust flavours and the softest meat soaked in rich, flavour-packed gravy. Goshtaba was another first for me. It was a dish of tough, tightly formed mutton balls cooked in a mildly tempered curd gravy. A tasty bowl of rajma was the only familiar dish I knew of. Nadier Palak added a whole new taste profile thanks to the lotus stem-spinach gravy and broke up the meat and spice overload. Lastly, Ruwangan Kokur also featured which was a chicken dish cooked in a tomato gravy with ample seasoning with kashmiri chillies.

trami kashmiri food

When we were too stuffed to breathe, the waiter bought out an elaborate spouted copper teapot with water and a vessel called a Tash Naer to wash our hands in and finally, dessert comprised of a simple Phirni in a clay dish.

phirni poush mumbai

No Kashmiri meal is complete without Kahwa, a strong, fragrant, absolutely delicious green tea. While I’m not a fan of green tea, the taste of cardamom, nuts, saffron and apples really cleansed my palate and was soul-warming to say the least. Loved every drop of it!

kahwa poush mumbai

That comes to the end of my elaborate, scrumptious meal at Poush in Kurla. If you’re based in the Western Suburbs or SoBo, it may seem like a tremendous task to travel all the way to Kurla, but for die-hard food lovers, it is worth the trip! Poush also delivers all across Mumbai within 1-4 hours, depending on where you’re based.

Address: S-25, Floor 2, Phoenix Market City, LBS Road, Kurla, Mumbai

Cost for 2 – Rs. 2000/-

Hope you enjoyed reading this! I’ll keep you posted on my latest food discoveries on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too!

Note – I was invited to review Poush, and my meal was sponsored. However, views, as always, are my own.

How are you doing, guys?

After a quiet monsoon season of catching up on work and building my marketing agency, I’ve suddenly found myself drowning in blog posts. Just two months ago, things seemed to have stagnated and this blog, That Goan Girl, seemed to have plateaued. But post my trip home to Goa, where I reviewed at least half a dozen restaurants, I’m back in Mumbai and it’s literally raining collaborations and feature requests again. While my pickiness about who I feature here and talk to you about does filter a lot of brands/restaurants out, there are quite a few that are worth talking about.

Pa Pa Ya is one of them! Casual, yet fine-dining, luxurious, yet edgy, Zorawar Kalra’s restaurant has been on my radar for the longest time. His other restaurants, Masala Library and Farzi Cafe are both mighty impressive, and employ the concept of molecular gastronomy, of which, he is the master.

pa pa ya ambience

AMBIENCE

I’ve peeked in at Pa Pa Ya’s Lower Parel outlet as I’ve walked past on many occasions and boy, does it ooze glamour! My review was held at the Colaba outlet and it was just as chic! This dimly lit modern Asian bistro had touches of crimson and an ample amount of their hexagon motifs everywhere. While downstairs is much more spacious, especially with the high ceiling, it is not quite the case upstairs.

pa pa ya ambience colaba

SERVICE

The service was quick, the staff was knowledgeable, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand a word my waiter said. He literally spoke so fast that after a couple of dishes arrived, whenever I saw him approach with something new, I kept the menu ready for him to simply point out what the dish was. Anyway, I can’t deny that the knowledge was all there, because whenever I asked him what seasoning was used, he would rattle off without any hesitation.

FOOD

What makes Zorawar Kalra’s many restaurants stand out is that for the longest time, he’s been redefining what it means to cook ‘authentic’ food. Not quite traditional, not quite modern, most of the food plays with flavors from other cultures, creating an entirely new take on cuisines that have long remained the same. His brilliant knowledge of molecular gastronomy and one look at the menu confirms that here too, it’s all about experimentation. Here’s what I tried from the long and confusing 16-page menu.

Crispy Lotus Root – We were first brought the Amuse Bouche – a basil compressed watermelon in lemongrass and chilly foam served on a seashell with some smoking dry ice below. It popped like a bubble bursting in my mouth and released all its delicious flavour, making way for the Lotus Root that was brought quickly after.

crispy lotus roots

Sticky, sweet, slightly caramelized and just a slight hint of spice! The crispy lotus root from Pa Pa Ya is so crispy, you can break it with a satisfying *snap*

I’m so addicted to crispy starters, and this one was no exception! It came with a cool, creamy avocado dip for balance.

Sushi Tree – Sushi lovers like myself have often wished that this Japanese staple would grow on trees, and at Pa Pa Ya, they do! Various types of colourful nigiri are placed on the branches of this wooden tree and at the base are pickled ginger and wasabi. Apart from the traditional tuna and salmon sushi with caviar on top, there were two interesting nigiri as well. I particularly liked the ‘carbon sushi with rice balls’ which are coloured jet black with squid ink and had rice-crispy-balls on top for crunch. Another great ‘fruit’ of the tree was spicy tuna roll with seaweed that had a 7 powdered-spice mix coated on the sides. Loved every bite!

sushi tree pa pa ya colaba

sushi tree pa pa ya

Lamb and Mandarin Bee Hun – This looked like a piece of art! Translucent steamed potato and rice wrappers stuffed with mandarin flavoured lamb was cooked to perfection. It was served with a tiny bit of black bean sauce which worked wonders in elevating the dish.

lamb mandarin bee hun

Kale and Pakchoy Gaozi – This may be a hit with the vegetarians, but I wasn’t a fan. The delicate mushroom parcels were served with a crispy-starchy potato shell. Presentation wise it was quite messy – random splotches of sauce on the plate with microgreens strewn around carelessly. The waiter suggested rolling the mushroom in the papad-like coverings and while that added texture, it was pretty strange, I must admit.

Beet Infused Dim Sum – A colourful twist to dimsum, Pa Pa Ya kept it natural with bright pink beet infused wrappers stuffed with sautéed leeks, chestnuts, celery and spring onions. It was served with yuzu soya foam on top as garnish and looked refreshingly different. The flavours here seemed very Indian and it could be the use of spices. It was good, but not wow. What saved it for me was that texture wise, silken wrappers paired with the crispy filling was interesting.

beet infused dimsum pa pa ya

Pla Samrot Gung – I looove sweet-and-sour flavour profiles so the Pla Samrot Gung was a hit in my books. You may find the flavour here overlapping with many of the dishes on the menu though. Plump tiger prawns were coated in piquant Thai sauce, served on a bed of pea sauce with a beautiful dehydrated slice of pineapple for garnish which was dry and chewy at the same time. Ah-mazing!

pla samrot gung pa pa ya

Pork Belly Skewers – Again, mildly sweet but oh, how buttery!! This is Pa Pa Ya’s version of Japanese Pork Belly Skewers and it is glazed with mirin and soy sauce. Chargrilled, slightly sticky and utterly melt-in-your-mouth good, this was simply irresistible. Check out the presentation!

pork skewers papaya

pork skewers pa pa ya

Wasabi Rice – Not something I’d ordinarily order, but I’ve had some good luck going with the staff’s suggestions and once again, this one was a win! Don’t let the name scare you away, this dish won’t set your nostrils aflame. The rice is slightly sticky, fragrant and with an ever-so-slight tinge of wasabi. The tiny diced bell peppers added colour and bite to it.

wasabi rice pa pa ya

Lamb Rendang Curry – Its hard picking a favourite dish here, but this one came out tops. To call the meat ‘tender’ would be an understatement – it literally fell off the bone at the slightest touch. That gravy, guys!! Mind blowing! Infused with strong spices with a dash of coconut cream, it was irresistible I didn’t like the lachha paratha it was served with, but then I like my rotis fully cooked – so it comes down to personal taste on that front. Definitely don’t leave Pa Pa Ya without digging into this one.

lamb rendang pa pa ya

Pad Thai Noodles – Unlike the other items that were either sweet-ish or rich, this one was quite basic in comparison. Tossed noodles with scrambled egg, peanuts and capsicum and slightly on the oily side.

pad thai noodles pa pa ya

Braised Sliced Chicken in Chilly Sauce – As I write this, around a fortnight after visiting Pa Pa Ya, nothing about this dish stands out. I’d definitely skip this on the next visit because there are stellar items on the menu and this one doesn’t quite match up.

chicken chilly sauce pa pa ya

Flaming Chocolate Ball – Pa Pa Ya’s signature dessert has very ordinary elements put together to form a whimsical creation. Scoops of ice cream inside a chocolate ball, some cookie crumble, nuts, whipped cream, orange liqueur, chunks of chocolate brownie and a bit of chocolate ganache. It is set ablaze with 15 mls of alcohol and the blue flames slowly reveal the ice cream within. Taste-wise it wasn’t Pa Pa Ya worthy, but it did add some theatre! The video of its sapphire blue flames are on my Instagram page.

flaming chocolate ball pa pa ya

At Pa Pa Ya, the food speaks, and how! It is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. The restaurant takes any notions you have of Asian Food and turns it around, giving you an experience you’ll never forget.

Address: Hotel Diplomat, Whitehouse Building, 24-26, B. K. Boman Behram Marg, Apollo, Bund, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

Cost for 2: Rs. 3000/-

See you next time! Until then, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and check out my last posts on The Oak Barrel and Caravela Cafe

xoxo

P.S.- I was invited to review Pa Pa Ya, and my meal was sponsored. However, views, as always, are my own.