I love a good brunch. Who doesn’t? The playful dance between breakfast and lunch, sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week and allows you to lull around in bed for hours after waking and still get all your favourite breakfast foods. It’s also a great reward to a good workout. Nothing like working up a good sweat and then eating some good food.
But what makes brunch at one of your favourite restaurants even better is when it’s a co-creation between the chef and a well-known foodie and celebrity. The Desi Deli Sunday brunch is one such delight.
You may not be able to slip off your shoes and sink your feet into the sand beneath your table but you can do the next best thing – of enjoying an outstanding meal while being serenaded by the lovely sea breeze and the magnificent sunset at Juhu beach at Estella the newest restaurant in town.
Undoubtedly dining beneath the stars, with the sound of the tide nearby, heightens the sensuality of an already pleasurable meal. Estella is upscale but casual with superb service to boot. The modern Australian meal served here encourages you to linger on, while soaking up the ocean views and some great people watching on the beach.
I loved the bread basket with zaatar bread, sundried tomato focaccia and the chedder cheese straws served with smoked hazelnut butter and herb garlic butter. It’s easy to stuff up on them if you don’t know what’s coming next
The grilled scallops with miso honey cream and carrot foam is exquisite. The presentation too is breathtaking. The seafood al ajilio (with clams, shrimps and scallops) is another must try here. The sherry saffron garlic butter sauce is quite addictive.
The star of the show for me was the lamb served on a bed of spinach and flaky puff pastry. The banana and caramel parfait with tangy kiwi marmalade was delightfully reticent in sugariness.
If you drink go for the Yuzu Sour which is a bitter, sour and sweet drink of singleton of ord malt with Japanese yuzu.
In Estella I have found my wedding anniversary spot (which is approaching soon). It’s romantic and the music is kept low, so we can hear each other venting.
Estella, Nichani Kutir, Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai. Open only for dinner. Meal for two: Rs 5000
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR
Should you need a nudge to get out of Mumbai and expand your sights, let me introduce you to a young resort just three hours away. It goes by the name Saj by the Lake and it’s warm and welcoming.Continue reading “Escape to Saj By The Lake”
When Ramee Grand Hotel & Spa in Bahrain decided to bring its popular luxury Japanese restaurant Ruka to Mumbai, it not just imported the brand but also its Japanese Chef Masato Toida from Bahrain. Styled in black and brown Ruka is quite stark and impersonal. Thankfully the food is bright and flavourful.
Menchie’s America’s premium frozen yoghurt chain has now launched its first outlet in Khar, Mumbai, India. The menu at this self-serving yogurt franchise holds non-fat, low-carbohydrate, no-added-sugar, gluten-free, vegan and dairy-free options.
As much as I crave a good sambar rice, I hanker for Ilish Bhapa with equal fervor. My love for Bengali food often sees me land uninvited to Bengali homes. I unabashedly ask for leftovers of macher johol (yes they taste better the next day) and even tag along with Bengali friends to Durga Puja for the mahaprasad of khichuri and bhaja. So when I heard Sofitel Mumbai BKC had a East Bengal / Bangladesh food festival I did the obvious – drove there and ate till I was in food coma!
East Bengal/ Bangladeshi food is very similar to West Bengal barring the fact that Bangladeshi food has a slight Mughlai touch. Both cuisine favour fish and the use of mustard and poppy seeds are similar. The food festival at Novotel is put together by chef Sirajul from Novotel Kolkata.
We started with a non vegetarian snack – Chicken Kabiraj. It’s a cutlet made with minced chicken and spices dipped in egg and coated with breadcrumbs. Like other chop cutlets, this recipe too is the result of British influence on the Bengali cuisine. Needless to say it was crunchy on the outside and succulent inside. Though I missed Illish bhapa one of my favourite Bengali dishes, I was glad to see another favourite – Kosha Mangsho – a mutton dish. The perfectly cooked, juicy meat had a Mughlai touch with the use of whole spices and a thin layer of oil floating over it. Yummy. The Katla Macher Kalia (fish curry) was heady from the mustard seeds, nigella seeds, chillies and ginger paste.
The amount of respect Bengalis pay to vegetables is unprecedented. Simple ridgegaurd is elevated with the use of poppy seeds and mustard paste in Jinghe Posto. It goes beautifully with steamed rice. The simple yellow dal tempered with mustard seeds is akin to the Maharashtrian waran with strong hints of ghee.
Bongs love to have their fish in unthinkable ways. Apart from frying, steaming, baking and dunking it in gravies they also put it in pulao! The Ilish Polao a great combination of spicy Ilish with rice was full of depth. Though Bengali food is known for its liberal use of green chilies, and Bangladesh in particular is famed for having some of the hottest dishes in the world, the dishes at the food festival have been toned down to suit various palates. Among the desserts I loved the misti doi and gurer kheer.
Pondicherry Café the venue of the festival is dressed in Bangla fervor with a cycle tonga at the entrance, terracotta pots and jhal muri cycles.
Where: Pondichéry Café, Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Date: 18th to 27th March 2016
Time: Lunch – 12:30 pm onwards and Dinner – 7:00 pm onwards
Price: Rs 3,400 (all inclusive)
For reservations, call +91 (22) 6117 5115
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR
With the cricketing season just heating up, it’s important to find a good spot to settle in and catch the matches. United Sports Bar & Grill is one place where you can root for your team without having to get too rowdy.
This sprawling watering hole in Thane is big, loud and a bit fratty. Yet something about it keeps me coming back for more. Maybe it’s the numerous LCD screens that the friendly staff will happily tune to whatever channel you want to watch. It could be the music which seems to oscillate between chart busters and classics. Or the impressive selection of bar bites and comfort food by chef Dominic Sequeira. But most of all, I think it’s the vibe: easy, relaxed yet energetic.
Another reason I make the trip to Thane is that it’s – whisper it – not that expensive. Sometimes we remember a place by the bill that drowns the credit card. But starters here are priced between Rs 80-300 and a pint of beer costs Rs 195. Lounge on comfy couches or settle in with a pitcher on the long community table and catch all the sporting action on the numerous projection TVs. If you overstay, take advantage of the extended happy hours where you get two drinks for the price of one (12-8pm).
There is a range of molecular drinks but my favourite is Orange Popping Boba (Rs 400) which is a whiskey based drink with passion fruit. The herbs-n-spice infusions in the cocktails are interesting as they add a twist to an otherwise simple concoction.
Start with Spiced Chicken Wings (Rs 180) which come gloriously bathed in barbeque sauce. The chicken is full of flavour, rich and a little smoky. The orange infused chili chicken (Rs 200) gets a kick from fresh orange rind and chillies. If you like something light the Khiciya papad (Rs 100) topped with tomatoes, onions and chillies make for a quick and easy snack. Nothing glorious but deeply satisfying. So is the snack of fried chick peas with garlic and chaat masala (Channa Express Rs 100). Another must try are the bacon wrapped prawns (Rs 420). Prawns hugged by thin slices of bacon and sitting on a bed of lettuce are closer to haute cuisine than bar bites. If you’re looking for a stellar main course with a good dose of protein and veggies, this is where you can call off the search. The herb crumbed basa (Rs 280) with lemon butter sauce is refreshing in its simplicity. The veggies retain their crunch and colour and the sauce adds just a hint of adventure to the otherwise perfect fish.
My preferred way to close a meal is to finish whatever is left in my glass. But professional obligations require me to dip into cakes, cookies and other confections. I am not complaining as United Sports Bar entices me with a few simple desserts that bridge comfort with elegance. The sweet to be savoured above all others is the Carrot halwa cheese cake (Rs 200). It’s the best matrimony of mascarpone cheese with carrots. If you order the Paan flavoured panna cotta be ready to post the beauty on Instagram. A dessert in a martini glass and sparked with a chocolate coasted paan is sure to hike up your followers.
Where: United Sports Bar, Viviana Mall, Thane. Tel: 02261701331.
United Sports Bar, R City Mall, Ghatkopar. Tel: 02266429850
It didn’t need too much coaxing for me to step out and check out the new addition to the 5 Spice family – 5 Spice Wok. Firstly it’s just 5 minutes away from home and most importantly it’s stir fry Chinese! I love the smoky, singed flavour of stir fry and also the healthy way of cooking vegetables and meat for short periods over high heat that retains their natural vitamins.
5 Spice Wok is a no frills QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) with a DIY concept. Here’s the deal: You choose your base – rice/noodle, then add your protein (fish, chicken, prawns or veggies) and then proceed to choose from over eight sauces. Your food is tossed up in a wok and served too in a wok. There are no plates and you are encouraged to eat off the wok.
Toast takes a little finding, but it’s worth the detective work and justifies the rush hour traffic you’ll have to tackle just to get to this rooftop bistro, where you’re greeted by glorious lighting, mason jars, a shelf full of books, quirky mismatched chairs, exposed brick walls and funny Bollywood one-liners!
Cosy nooks make it ideal for a relaxed date – your call whether views of airplanes taking off into the distance are romantic or not. There are plenty of larger tables for group of friends. But bring people you like, Toast is too good to waste on a polite drink with the office.
WHAT’S HOT: Toast dresses familiar food in a fancy garb. So the chicken lasuni tikka comes cocooned in a phylo pastry shell, mushroom soup in a cappuccino cup, fries in egg coddler and prawns tempura on a bed of fried wantons. The ‘hero’ dish is the crispy fried calamari on a bed of arugula leaves. Tender meat behind a crackling coating. Among the mains the spaghetti with garlic, chilli and parmesan is delicious in its simplicity. Indian dishes are accompanied by a choice roti/rice, dal and salad.
The bar here is staffed by folks who won’t collapse like a soufflé when you move beyond signature drinks. This is rarer than you think in Mumbai, where there are cocktails, cocktails, everywhere and not a drop to drink. My favourite here is T-Sour which makes good use of the scotch bourbon along with sour mix, egg Nog and bitters. Tequila based Candy Crush is for those who like their drink sweet and sour.
On my return to I’ll definitely reorder the chocolate pudding with a gooey centre. This time I would refuse to share my dessert, an excellent, chocolate pudding zinging with fresh Belgium chocolate lava. I made that mistake the first time and quickly saw my error as it vanished into a rival gob.
WHAT’S NOT: Not everything at Toast is a triumph: the beetroot risotto lacked the cheesiness or any specific oomph, even if it looked glorious.
HOW TO GET THERE: Marol, Andheri (E), 2 mins walk from Airport Road Metro Station. Tel: 29203818.
COST: Rs 2500 for two with alcohol.
NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR